The Sims 2 Review

Colin Ferris
The Sims 2 Info

genre

  • N/A

players

  • 1

Publisher

  • EA

Developer

  • Maxis

Release Date

  • 11/30/1999
  • Out Now

Platform

  • DS
  • GameCube
  • PC
  • PS2
  • PSP

rating

All My Sims’ Children.

Sven Sanfrengensen moved from his native Norway to Pleasantville in search of

what all Europeans who come to America desire” easy American women. Moving into

a modest pad and living the slacker lifestyle, it didn’t take long for Sven to

meet the voluptuous Nina Caliente, but she was soon followed by numerous

others. Being a lover, not a fighter, Sven’s wants were simple, mostly revolving

around having “woohoo” just about anywhere he could find it, be it in a bed,

a hot tub, or a changing room at the local fashion store. What’s a Nordic Adonis

to do?

Thus began my foray into The Sims 2, the inevitable sequel to one of the

most successful PC games of all time. If you have no idea what I’m talking about,

you’ve obviously spent the last few years living atop a lonely peak in the Himalayas

meditating on the oneness of humanity. Originally released four years ago, The

Sims
became a PC institution and the number one game for women, with a whopping

7 expansion sets. The game sold so well, in fact, that in one recent August

week, games bearing The Sims name occupied 5 out of the top 10 slots on

the PC sales chart. Aside from the glorified chatroom The

Sims Online
, every single game released under this franchise was a best-seller.

All

of this success naturally made the The Sims 2 one of the most anticipated

games of the year. Now that it’s here, we can honestly say it won’t disappoint

current fans” though it doesn’t

offer anything nearly as original in terms of gameplay. Lightning only strikes

once, you know.

The original Sims was a breath of fresh

air. While your individual Sims had minds of their own, you had a certain level

of control over them, guiding them to do things that may or may not have been

against their nature. The play style has remained identical in The

Sims 2
,

albeit with better graphics and more intelligent AI.

The design tool used to create your Sims is both complex and limited, depending

on what you want to do. You have almost absolute control over the face,

from jaw line to hairline; everything is adjustable with easy-to-use sliders.

But beyond that, your Sims’ bodies are nearly identical. There are two

body types, thin or fat, and one height. That’s right – everybody is exactly

the same height at the same age. In fact, the only way to tell that some Sims

are still teenagers is that they are slightly shorter than adult Sims, a lesson

that our friend Sven had to learn

the hard way.
Yikes.

Sims go through several stages of development. As babies they are

beyond your control, but within a few days they progress to

the toddler stage, at which point you have slightly more control over them,

guiding them to their favorite toy or asking mommy for attention. Then comes

the child stage and the start of school, which helps shape the type of adult

Sim they will grow up to be. Before you know it, they’re teenagers, getting

their first job and even their first kiss.

On

come the days of adulthood, which is where your Sims will spend the bulk of

their lives. Start

down a career path, find your own house, get a significant other, marry, and

have kids of your own. Your Sim’s previous experiences, be it a great birthday

party when they were a kid, starving most of the time growing up or watching

a relative die, shape how they interact with other Sims. The continuity is much

better than in the original.

For that matter, when your Sims have babies, genetics now play a hand in their

creation. Newborns take characteristics from the two parents, including

physical features and disposition, creating more of a family look and

feel. You can also give your entire family a back story, explaining why they

are the way they are and what they are truly looking for in life. The family

dynamic in The Sims 2 is extremely well done and makes the game feel

even more like a daytime soap opera.

As always, your Sims’ needs guide your actions (need to pee, need to eat, etc.).

However, they now have wants, such as Sven’s want to have sex with any woman

that has a pulse. They also have fears, such as the fear of rejection, which

will destroy your Sim’s mood. Fulfilling a Sim’s wants and avoiding their

fears gives you aspiration points, which can then be used to get special objects

to enhance your Sim’s life. This makes The

Sims 2
more of a game and less of a sandbox than the first title.

Death also plays a greater role. Unless they continually drink the elixir of

life (one of the aforementioned aspiration objects), your Sims will eventually

become elders and die, leaving their wealth to future generations. The life

cycle adds a level of depth to the Sims world that was sorely lacking in the

previous version. However, as deep as the game may seem, it never really gets

out of the shallow end.

Time is subject to various inconsistencies. Time passes and your Sims

grows old, yet it only passes in the house you have active – and nowhere else.

If you concentrate on one household, those particular Sims will grow old and

die, while everyone else in the neighborhood remains healthy and young. Soon,

your kids are playing with the same Sims the older generation played with; making

out with the same girls, wooing the same women’it gets kinda creepy. I mean,

I don’t want to date Grandpa’s leftovers.

It’s a shame the folks at Maxis didn’t attend to this, because the alternative

could have been revolutionary and compelling. A living, breathing

dollhouse sounds more interesting than one in which only one doll ages at

a time.

And if you happen to get your Sim to leave the house to go to a community lot,

time doesn’t pass back at their house. So, while your Sim might spend a whole day shopping, he’ll get back to his house and it’ll be the exact same time he left. There’s no global feeling to The Sims 2; you’re basically just the director of a household soap opera.

Building is still handled

the same way in that it takes simoleons to build anything, but it feels like

there should be more building/furniture options in general aside from user-created

objects that can be downloaded from the official website. After four years of

expansions, The Sims had numerous options and objects available which

sadly seem to be missing from The Sims 2.

The most glaring example is that the pets seen in The

Sims Unleashed
are nowhere to be found. Integrating the good things found

in the expansion packs into The Sims 2 seems like a no-brainer. Then again,

maybe they’re planning 7 new expansions to this game, too. I wonder if there’s

a money-grubbing software executive career path?

Minor bugs also mar the experience. Sims have notable pathfinding issues,

constantly getting in one another’s way. It appears that only prebuilt staircases

in existing houses can allow more than one Sim at any one time, meaning that

if you add another story to your house, be prepared for your Sims to bottleneck

at the stairs. Sven made the mistake of adding a floor to put in a rooftop

hot tub, only to have the ladies complain that they can’t always get up there.

Talk about destroying the mood.

Every

so often, guests turn invisible and objects get stuck in their “used” position,

in which case they can no longer be used by any Sim and, unfortunately, can’t

be moved or deleted using the building tools. The system requirements are also

rather fierce. Expect serious load times and the occasional slowdown unless

you’re running a top-of-the-line machine.

Even

if you don’t, though, the graphics in The Sims 2 have greatly improved

since the original. The camera now has free reign, allowing you to view your

Sim household from any angle. The Sims use their facial movements to the fullest,

expressing both their delights and displeasures. When a special event occurs,

such as a birthday or the first time you “woohoo” with somebody, the camera shifts

to an in-game movie cutscene that shows off the power of the new engine. The

movies look good, but there’s only one animation set for each type of event,

meaning that Sven only knows one way to please a woman in bed. I have to see

the same flick every time he gets with a new Sim, no matter how many times I

try cramming a quarter into my disc drive.

Conversely, the sound is remarkably similar to the original, including the gibberish

the Sims speak to each other. People who hear it generally think it sounds

like French, but that’s mainly because any language spoken by Sven becomes

a language of love”

All in all, The Sims 2 is more of a refinement of the original game than an exciting new offering. While that’s not a bad thing, per se, it’s lacking the innovation that enticed people to play the game in first place. Still, it’s a solid, well-rounded sequel and well worth another trip to the dollhouse.

REVOLUTION REPORT CARD

4
Rating
Life Cycles
Wants and Fears
Family Interaction
Vastly improved graphics
Isolated Sim development
Missing concepts introduced in expansions
Load time and annoying bugs