"A great one night stand, but you won't be calling in the morning"

Playboy: The Mansion takes the Sims, makes everyones needs much easier to maintain, as well as rips the clothes from some of the scantily clothed women. The problem with this game doesn't lie within the game play, becuase it is quite fun, but after a few hours of playing it becomes so repetative, the nudity is no longer something that you even notice, you are just grinding it out to release more magazines so maybe you can get to 12 and get to choose a Playmate of the Year, just to see how that act rewards you. But I digress, let's get into the body of this review.

Sound - 8/10
In a Playboy game, Sound doesn't seem like it really matters, but the music is playing almost 100% of the time unless you turn it off. No matter what part of the mansion you go to there is a stereo there, so you can have the music if you want...and I have chosen to keep it on, becuase it really is a good mix of music. If you choose to play Rock there are some well known tracks mixed with some decent lesser known songs, but when you start choosing the different catagories, the music is no longer known at all, but it really does fit the feel of the Playboy Mansion. There is some jazz, some flamenco, a little bit of everything and it really sounds great.

The other sounds are good too, when you are in the pool area, the waterfall sounds like it should, when you are in the grotto, you get a feel for how it would be in real life...at least sound wise. The speech between characters is almost exactly like Simmish, but it didn't bother me, in fact I found that it worked quite well...what amazed me was the voice overs by certain staff members all sounded well done, and really fit the tone of the game.

Graphics - 6/10
The graphics look great, but for some reason anytime I tried to play at max resolution the game would crash any time I tried to access the mansion building menu...that was so not cool. Playing at 1024x768 kept the game looking great, the mansion was pretty detailed, but it wasn't Half Life 2 type graphics, but it wasn't quite on par with Sims 2 either, they were solid...but they didn't try too hard on this one. As for why many peole would buy this game, the women look alrighty...when topless they look like they should, everything is proportional and the right colors and everything, unlike Leisure Suit Larry where all of the nudity was completely cartoonish. The problem I have with the women is that they all look really similar, there is a very hard time distinguishing between playmates after you've taken enough centerfolds of them. I found it really crappy becuase in more than one issue I had selected a cover and a centerfold from the EXACT same Model...they were named differently, but everything about htem was the same. One other problem I had with the game, is that the faces look really flat...there is no depth or anything, it is just like they took these decent body models and then painted a static face on it. Not cool at all.

Gameplay - 6/10
This game is made for the PC, simply put. If you buy it on PS2 or Xbox, you really aren't playing it the way it should be. I did find the controls a bit frustrating after playing Sims 2, but after about 20 minutes I had the controls down, and I was playing jsut fine. There are 12 missions when you want to play the missions, or there is freeform mode (which I played most) where you are assigned numerous tasks and just play how you want to to complete those tasks. I found that the missions were too linear and really didn't keep me wanting to progress...mainly becuase it always felt like I could be doing better but the missions were kind of holding me back. That's why I enjoyed Freeform better.

With both those modes however, the game gets BORING and not quickly, but quicker than I would have liked. By my 7th issue I was not even caring about anything, but using my Inner Circle (more on that later) to just get whatever I could out. I stopped wanting to throw parties...but since that was the only way to get the A list stars to visit my Mansion I found myself having too, and after the first few days of greatness...I felt as though I just wanted the game to end.

As for the Character interaction, it is a pretty good system...not as deep as Sims 2...not by a long shot. You start a conversation by choosing to make it either romantic, professional or casual...if you build up enough of a casual status with a person, you can invite them into your "Inner Circle" which means you can call them over to your place at any time. If you build up a high proffessional standing you can strike a lucritive deal with a person to perhaps make a few extra bucks. And if you go high on the romantic level with a person you can ask her to be your girlfriend...although you are limited to how many g/fs you can have by the level of your fame. You use the same radial menu to ask people to write essays, give an interview or shoot a cover.

There are 6 different things necessary for a magazine to be published, Article, Pictorial, Centerfold, and the aforementioned Essay, Interview, and Cover. You need to hire a Journalist in order to get an interview or Article, you need to hire a Playmate to shoot a Centerfold, and obviously you need a Photographer for a Cover Shot, Centerfold, and Pictorial, but a Photographer charges you for location fees on any pictorials you want to shoot. I found having to pay for content kind of cheap, as you also have to pay for Essays written by Celebrities and such.

There are some real celebrities in the game, but for the most part they are all made up, and many of them look exactly like on another. After a certain point you can start changing thier attire, but you can't change anything else about them, which makes sense, but is still a bit frustrating when everyone looks really similar. The quality of work you get from a person depends on thier Physique, Charm, and Intelect, each one corresponding to Cover Shoot, Interview, and Essay, but I found that those catagories don't much matter jsut as long as you use the most famous people...it really isn't that hard, and I think that's where it falters...getting a high selling magazine is not difficult at all..the challenge is just lost.

Story - 4/10
You are Hugh Hefner, and you must build up your Playboy empire from group up. It doesn't make sense becuase before you publish your first issue, you can invite celebrities over who's title is "Published Playmates" which seems impossible if there isn't such thing as a "Playmate" yet. You progress in the game just trying to gain fame, and be able to invite bigger and better stars...not too much to go by here.

Extras - 7/10
The extras aren't bad here, with points you gain from completing objectives or getting outstanding content you can buy things from the Extras menus. There are Cheats and Archives to choose from. The Archives have different Centerfolds, Covers, Interviews, and Pictures of Hugh. These are interesting to a point, but I didn't really feel as though I wanted to be buying this stuff when I had the points, although the Cheats aren't that interesting either. They are more or less ways to help you in the game, which is pretty cool. You can increase anyone one of a persons 3 main characteristics or give yourself and extra 5k which equals almost nothing once you get a bit farther in the game. There also silly codes like Huge implants for the women or make everyone who is in your mansion smashed. Fun to a point...it's kinda cool to use a code or unlock an archive, and exit without saving and then trying something else...since as long as you don't save you will have the same amount of points as you did before activating the extra.

To Buy or not to Buy?
I would say it's a matter of personal preference. This game is great if you are a hormone driven teenager or college student, but if you can get your hands on a nudity patch for Sims 2...that is a far better option. If you are interested actually having a magazine be built by your very own fingertips then this game is also for you. If you just want a cool simulation of life, avoid this game becuase it just doesn't last, and go with Sims 2.

OVERALL (not an average) - 6/10

Reviewer's Rating:   3.0 - Fair

Originally Posted: 02/06/05

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