Review by BlueYoshi579

Reviewed: 07/17/06

Great execution on a bad idea.

The Sims 2 is, obviously, sequel to the best selling computer game ever, The Sims. It expands on that solid ground, updating the graphics, adding all sorts of new things to do, ways to interact, along with a largely overhauled item system. Although some may complain about all the changes, they are likely blinded by nostalgia. The Sims 2 vastly exceeds its predecessor in most facets, and does do at least a tad bit better in every case.

However, that still doesn't add up to a great game. The Sims 2, being a simulation of life, can get pretty boring. Once you have everything you set out to get, it's just not that interesting. While that may be a painfully accurate simulation of life, one does not buy a video game to be sent back to reality.

Visual Presentation: You won't see The Sims 2 being used as a performance benchmark. The graphics are designed to be more towards function than form. However, even on settings that give up visuals for better performance, the visuals can still hamper your playing experience. Generally, one keeps the walls in their house down to play the game. This can make placing new items difficult, as it may require adjusting your walls to fit new items or adjusting the camera to even put something where you want it or to use something. It gets very frustrating when your house starts filling up. Normally, visuals add something to a game. In the Sims 2, they can start to detract from the game. That is not good.

The people, or Sims, in Maxis games have always been a bit quirky, and that is especially true for the Sims series. The characters look human for the most part, although they generally get a bit more extreme than most. They are based on reality more than realistic, like most Maxis games. It can get somewhat confusing to figure out what emotion they're feeling, but there are thought bubbles to clarify that. The characters are certainly the better part of the visuals, and their zany expressions provide a brief moment of entertainment.

Overall, the visual presentation is good enough to look at (Although it also depends upon how you arrange things), but interfacing with the game can be cumbersome. 6.5 out of 10.

Sound: The sounds for The Sims 2 are good, but it can get a bit hectic if too much is going on. All the sounds are clear and match their events well. The music is simple background music, but you can turn on some preloaded songs with any music player in the game. There's also a simple way to put your own music onto the radio stations.

Overall, one of the better sound performances in a simulation game. 9 out of 10.

Controls: I can't recall ever being confused by the controls, but they can be a bit difficult at times. As stated, it's sometimes hard to use items. Many of the menus can also be a bit cluttered or too small, and there are a few glitches (which are usually fixed quickly, however) that can interfere with your control. Sims can also get out of line, but you can simply toggle their Free Will on and off.

Overall, simple but sometimes frustrating. 6.5 out of 10.

Game Play: The Sims 2 is a life simulation. You make some characters, using a system that allows for massive customization in appearance. You then move your family into a neighborhood, either your own or a pre-made one, buy a plot of land and build a house. Presumably, there's more things you want than you can afford on your starting income (and your bills will certainly get rid of your money eventually). So, you need to find some source of income (almost definitely a job). You go to work, come home, and get paid. If you're happy enough, have enough friends, and skilled enough, you could get a promotion. Since you want more money, you buy things to help improve your skills and mood (supposing you get paid enough to afford them). With more money, you can buy more things to improve your skills and mood (I leave out friends because they only require time and a phone/computer). Eventually, you may even reach the highest level of your career field and have everything you need or want. Well, now what do you do? A sim's got to have aspirations beyond material goods (Actually, they can aspire to be rich and live the good life). Depending upon your pre-chosen Aspirations and current life conditions, you can achieve all sorts of aspirations, which get your aspiration points. Some things are tied to your selected aspirations, such as earning a certain amount of money. Others are dictated by how you live, such as kissing a love interest. But what does fulfilling one's aspirations do? Well, it improves your aspiration meter and gives you aspiration points. Aspiration points can be used to buy all sorts of useful gadgets, such as a mood elevator and a water cooler of life. Very High Aspiration meter ratings put you in a euphoric mood, regardless of your needs (like energy or hunger, although severely needing sleep will still cause you to pass out).

Sounds like a lot to do. But it isn't. All that only lasts about 20-35 hours. After that, having everything isn't very fulfilling. The entire experience feels rather empty. And while that may be a very accurate simulation of life, this isn't life. For this reason, The Sims 2 had almost no replay value for me. Some people do enjoy playing multiple characters or retiring in wealth and posterity. It's a hit or miss experience, I guess.

Overall, the chase is more fun than the catch. Accurate simulation, but not what I was looking for. 5 out of 10.

Overall, The Sims 2 is definitely an improvement over The Sims, but suffers from the same flaw: Life is too boring to be simulated well. Simulation of life cuts out some of its more interesting aspects. That said, the supporting elements around the game play are good, with the exception of the user interface.

The Sims 2 gets a 6 out of 10.

Rating:   3.0 - Fair

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