Review by l syphonbyte l

"A Great Sequel That's Waiting for Expansions"

It's finally here; the sequel to possibly the greatest game of all time. Without the horde of expansions to accompany it yet, The Sims 2 isn't all that it seems it should be. Also, the game's "improvements" of aging and aspirations aren't for everyone.

Graphics: 9/10
The Sims 2's graphics are far superior to the original's. The game is now in full 3D with a more powerful camera. The Sims themselves look gorgeous, (or ugly, if you make them that way) and the houses, items and general environment of The Sims are much more attractive. In fact, houses are even lit relative to the location of the sun, a rather neat feature. My only complaints are that the houses seem too dark to me, even during the day, and that there is a bit too much aliasing on the screen. The readme file says that you should not force anti-aliasing, but I have yet to find an option in-game to enable it. Even so, the graphics are excellent and are a welcome improvement over the original Sims.

Sound: 8/10
The sound in this game is beautiful, and of high-quality. Everything sounds perfect, really. Better yet, you can choose which music you want in the different game modes, a welcome addition. The only problem with the sound is that there isn't enough variety in the speech of Sims. It gets old when you hear the same joke in Simlish about fifty times. Other than that, the sound is more than adequate for the game.

Control: 9/10
The control scheme of The Sims 2 is almost identical to the original's, except for the new dynamic camera, which is incredibly easy to use as long as you have a scroll mouse. The keyboard shortcuts are also invaluable when playing; I can't count the number of times I've been saved with a quick tap of the 'p' key. The only problem here is that the user interface seems unnecessarily condensed.

Gameplay: 8/10
The Sims 2's gameplay is almost identical to the original's, which is a very good thing. Of course, so many new features have been added that it would take too long to talk about them all. There are some that are almost unnoticeable, like the fact that paintings don't appear on walls that are down. A few major changes do alter the game quite a bit, though, and not everybody will like them. These are aging and aspirations (wants and fears). Aging is a feature that a lot of people have been waiting for. Those sim kids can finally become adults. Of course, this means that adult sims get old and eventually die. You can turn off aging, but that means that babies will keep on puking, kids will keep doing homework and teens will keep having those crazy parties. Some people will love this, but others might not. The only way you can completely control aging is with the elixir of life, and that takes a boatload of aspiration points. That brings me to the next change: aspirations. Sims actually WANT to do specific things now. The system works pretty well, too. Unfortunately, you can't turn this off, and if you neglect your sims' aspirations they go crazy. Literally. Of course, when you've bought every item and have a gigantic house, aspirations give you something to do with your sim, be it Woohoo the neighbor or gain the 10th logic level.

Re-playability: 10/10
You simply cannot beat the re-playability of The Sims, and with all the new features in The Sims 2, this game is guaranteed to eat up all of your free time, and quite a bit of time when you should really be doing things like showering, eating and sleeping. This also means that your social meter... I mean social life will probably go down the toilet.

The Sims 2 is an excellent sequel to an excellent game, but it may not be for everyone. The aspiration system does take some getting used to, and aging is definitely a major change. Of course, if you didn't like the original game, I wouldn't recommend this one to you. The only other complaint I have is that the number of items seems rather odd. There are dozens of counters to choose from, but only 2 kinds of refrigerators. Also, there isn't a pool table, which really bummed me out after I built a pool room for one. Of course, this is probably because lots of expansions are planned. Even with these very minor problems, The Sims 2 is a great buy for almost any gamer.

Final Score: 9/10

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 09/22/04

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