While The Sims was indeed fascinating, there was a bit too much 'unreality' and a strong sense of the mundane thrown in.
Multimedia: The Sims 2
Number of players: 1
ESRB rating: Teen
US release date: 2007-07
Buy The Sims 2 at EB Games
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If Only Reality TV Was This Entertaining
So much has been said and written about Maxis' original Sims game that there's no point in repeating oneself anymore. "The biggest selling PC game of all time", "virtual crack", "more fun than life itself", etc. OK, well maybe that last statement is far-flung, but I did know people who just couldn't stop playing The Sims when it first came out. Granted, I was undoubtedly amongst that very same group. It was pretty easy to spend six hours at a time just watching the little person you created try to make it in the virtual world while trying to balance out his need to eat, piss, and sleep.
And while The Sims and all its weird expansion packs was indeed fascinating, there was a bit too much "unreality" and a strong sense of the mundane thrown in. Basically, there was no time for serious leisure in the game. You were pretty much forced to stick to a strict regimen of climbing up the social ladder while excelling insanely at your chosen profession and maintaining a large group of friends. If you didn't have all those friends, you just really weren't going to get that big promotion. And then your Sim would get depressed because there was never anything for him to do except work the daily grind, come home, and try to eat, sleep, shower, and pee -- if possible - before hitting the salt mines once again. Frankly it all got stale before the first expansion pack was even introduced.
So about seven expansion packs later, the original game is put to bed and The Sims 2 is unveiled. Thankfully, Maxis has tweaked its original masterpiece and made it more fun, which means more time spent in front of your computer screen, letting real life go to waste even faster. This time, The Sims feels more like a game and less like an overall, wholly unrealistic reality simulator. And for that this title is leaps and bounds better than its predecessor.
What's funny about playing The Sims 2 is noticing all the stuff that wasn't included in the first version and wondering aloud why the hell it wasn't. For instance, now your Sim gets two days off per week. Great idea! Now he can work and have his fun like any normal person would. A life span has also been introduced. You can create a Sim and start him at birth, or as a kid, or as an adult (granted, if you play from birth you also have to create an adult Sim to take care of it, else this game would have become completely unrealistic on its own). You'll see your Sims get visibly older and track their progress through life through their own memories. Kinda creepy, huh?
Aside from those nice tweaks, each Sim now has goal sets to work with. This means, your Sim has three goals per day to try and achieve based upon their personality traits you set when you create him. My guy, a Mr. Botchnik, is really into romance, so his daily goals might be to make out with a Sim, "Woo-Hoo" a Sim (that's Simlish for "getting it on"), and perhaps something else, like, oh, Woo-Hooing in public (yes, Maxis has added a whole new sense of depravity this time around). Botchnik doesn't like commitment, but he loves the ladies, and has dabbled with a couple guys as well. He's currently shagging the mail lady, is courting some teenage hottie he found down at the mall, and also has a senior citizen lover who'd like to get hitched and is really not all that happy about his other loves. Rock on, Botchnik.
It would seem that The Sims 2 really does allow the player to fully get into his characters and live out all those weird and wild fantasies that he'd probably not get around to in real life due to the law, STDs, and good old morality. But it is fun to watch the Sim go through various scenarios and push them to their unbridled limits to see just how much they can get away with. Will you be responsible and a respectable citizen, or just a complete sleazeball who'll sleep with everything that rings the doorbell?
The game has also gone 3-D, which really brings the player in. You can fully zoom in on your Sim and feel as if "you are there". No more birds-eye view of all the proceedings. Granted, many players have complained about this due mainly to the strain this may cause on older computers. When I picked up my copy, the girl at Media Play made sure I looked at the requirements before purchasing. How nice of her. But really, this game is a workhorse, even when boiled down to a single-disc DVD version (the CD-ROM version is spread out over several discs), so much so that it literally takes a few minutes to load, even on a system like mine that can handle anything.
But minor complaints aside, The Sims 2 really is more enjoyable all-around. The ability for your Sim to be happy even in a smaller house with basic items is nice, as is what amounts to built-in expansion packs. This time, the Sims can travel to other towns and places right off the bat. Even things from The Sims Online like clothes buying have been ported over. Oh, and perhaps best of all for all you lecherous types -- you can now get it on in any bed or hot tub -- no more shelling out big bucks for the vibrating bed or "love tub" of yore.
Okay, so maybe the bottom line is that The Sims 2 is more fun for the adult-minded. Nah, scratch that. Those who loved the original game will undoubtedly be won over by this sequel. I wouldn't be surprised is one day Maxis is the company that brings true virtual reality gaming into the homes. It's already scary enough what they've done with The Sims 2. Imagine what The Sims 4 is going to be like. Very scary indeed.