Product Type: Electronic Arts PC games
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The Sims 2 - Your own personal sitcom on demand
The Sims 2 (PC)
Member Name: thereddragon
The Sims 2 (PC)
Date: 09/06/09, updated on 30/06/09 (158 review reads)
Advantages: Hours and hours of addictive fun, lots of scope for creativity
Disadvantages: None at all, except that later expansion packs may slow your game down notably
The Sims 2 is the 2004 successor to the mega-hit 2000 Life Simulator game The Sims, developed by Maxis and published by EA Games. In Sims 2, the characters are incredibly lifelike, much more so than they were in The Sims - Sims 2 is a 3D game whereas the original The Sims was only in 2D and had a fairly remote isometric view that didn't let you get close-up to your Sims and that also didn't afford very good camera control.
With this sequel, you get surprisingly lifelike 3D character models to whom you can zoom in the view as close as you like, even filling the screen with a close-up of your selected Sim. Camera control is now third-person rather than isometric, affording a much better view of the Sims and their surroundings. The character model animations were created by live actors whose movements were captured into a computer system that transferred those movements to the way the models move in the game, giving your Sims uncannily lifelike behaviour!
The gameplay consists of creating characters who can look any way you like, dress any way you like, and have personalities corresponding to a selection you choose among various character traits. You can create adults, senior citizens, teenagers, children and babies. Having created your Sims, you put them together in a family (up to eight Sims per family) and move them into a house. The game comes with many houses already built and furnished in the Neighborhood you choose to play (the base game comes with three pre-made Neighborhoods), or you can install other houses from a selection in the Houses Bin within the game.
Once settled into their home, you need to teach them to look after themselves, by telling them to read books on cooking, cleaning, mechanical know-how, and so on (if you don't at least teach them cookery, they will continually set fire to the kitchen when cooking, which can result in their being killed - be warned!). Little by little they will learn, and much of their learning is autonomous rather than only by telling them to read - for instance, the more meals they prepare on their own, the more cooking skill points they gain.
They speak to each other in 'Simglish', a gibberish language created specially for the game so that it can cross language barriers and be playable all over the world without having to localise the language for each country. But you can tell what the characters are talking about by balloons that appear over their heads with pictures and symbols of the topic they're discussing. Sometimes these are really funny, such as one Sim gossiping with another Sim about one of their friends having had some humiliating experience or other.
Each Sim has a heads-up display showing you their Wants and Fears, and from those, you can choose actions for them to take in order to fulfil those Wants, and choose actions to avoid their Fears coming to pass. Wants will include getting a job of their 'choice', and you can direct them to apply for the job. Once employed, they start bringing in the Simoleans (the Sims currency) and can pay the bills (if they don't, the Repo Man will come and confiscate their belongings) and buy food, necessities and a few luxuries.
Sims also make friends and fall in love. Sims like having 'Best Friends', and this is a frequent Want. When Sims fall in love, they can move in together or get married, and have babies by indulging in what the game's makers delicately refer to as 'WooHoo'. When they become parents, they need to learn about parenting and to make sure their children are well fed, happy, and doing well in school - otherwise a Social Worker will turn up and confiscate the children!
Sims like being happy and comfortable, and you can increase their contentment level by having them play games, socialise, and get comfy in comfortable chairs, beds and hot tubs. They also need to keep fit, and you can have them do so by providing them with gym equipment and a swimming pool.
But playing The Sims 2 doesn't simply consist of sitting around telling your little people what to do. The beauty of this game is that your Sims have free will (provided that the 'Free Will' option is enabled in the game, which it should be by default) and they will very happily just run amok doing whatever they feel like doing, which makes for some really funny moments. Basically, once you've set them up with all the basics enumerated above, you can mostly let them do what they like, only intervening when necessary, such as if they decide to stay in the hot tub for 20 hours without eating, sleeping or going to the toilet the whole time and their comfort level has therefore gone way into the red (if they get to 'bursting' point and don't get to a toilet quickly enough, they will actually 'have an accident' in which they 'go' on the floor in front of everyone, and then look very embarrassed about it afterwards! Awwww.).
Over the years there has also been a series of Expansion Packs, which add a huge array of extra features that massively enhance the gameplay of the base game. These consist of 'Nightlife' which adds the ability to go on dates and to own and drive cars, 'University' which lets your teenage Sim go to college and (hopefully) get a degree, 'Pets' which, as you may guess, lets your Sims have pets, 'Open for Business' which lets your Sims own and run a business, 'Seasons' which lets them have seasonal weather, go fishing and grow their own crops, 'Bon Voyage' which enables them to go on holidays abroad, 'Free Time' where your Sims can develop new hobbies and interests, and 'Apartment Life' where they can live in apartment blocks, get involved in helpful social networking, and meet witches (yes, really - witches, complete with tall peaked hats, spellbooks, cauldrons and flying brooms).
If you have a low-spec PC that can run the base game, you can probably get away with adding the Nightlife and University expansions without slowing your game down, which I strongly recommend as those two packs add a lot of enhancements that many gamers think really should have been in the base game - these packs are sort of like an 'upgrade' in themselves!
I was a latecomer to The Sims 2, having only bought it in April 2008. I was pretty uninterested in the original The Sims when it first came out, having always been a diehard FPS player with the occasional adventure game thrown in here and there. When two of my FPS-er friends raved about it, insisting it was the best game either had ever experienced, I got a copy. But after about an hour of making the tutorial character 'Bob Newbie' eat, dance and go to the toilet, I ended up totally bored and unimpressed, uninstalled the game, and went back to playing Quake III and Unreal Tournament.
Now, fast-forward to early 2008 and a games website that features longplays of computer games. A member started a Sims 2 screenshot longplay 'starring' Sim versions of many members of the games forum. Thinking this might be somewhat amusing, I watched the longplay as it went along, and found that I had not laughed so much in ages. I had no idea that this game was FUNNY and that the characters did such hilarious and zany things - when I played the original game I'd found it lacking in any interesting gameplay at all. It was only via this longplay that I realised where I'd gone wrong: I'd mistakenly had 'Free Will' turned off in my game - no wonder everyone just stood there and didn't do anything, therefore making me think it boring and a waste of time! Turning it on will allow them to do things autonomously and, well, as mentioned earlier, run amok.
So, armed with my new knowledge, I bought The Sims 2 along with Nightlife, University and Pets, and created Sim versions ('Simselfs') of me and Significant Other plus a couple of our friends, and both of us were astonished at both how much everyone looked like the people they were based on, and how lifelike the animations were. After playing for a few days, I was totally hooked and little by little I bought all the other expansion packs, right up to the latest, Apartment Life.
I can now say I've never played something that kept me so absorbed and entertained for such large chunks of time - it's like having your own personal sitcom, and you can easily lose track of time, look at the clock and be horrified to find that three hours have passed and you thought it had only been half an hour! Of course, I had to create loads more Sims based on friends and family, and I have since downloaded dozens of Sims of various celebrities and fantasy characters, as well as tons of custom clothing, hairstyles, accessories, furnishings and more, from great fan sites full of impressively talented artists such as Mod The Sims 2, Sapphire Sims 2 and Insimenator.
You can also exercise your own creativity and create clothes and skins using the separate 'Bodyshop' app that comes with the game - easy once you know how . As you may know, this game is ideal for making machinima videos (animated films using game models as characters) and I enjoy making funny videos with the in-game 'movie camera' as well as just doing the straightforward gameplay. I've even had friends ask me to 'add them' to my game and see how 'they' get on in my neighbourhood, which is great fun!
All in all, I've come to love this game and spend many happy hours in my neighbourhood of cute and funny little people and fantasy characters. Highly recommended game!
Also on Helium as Esmeralda Draic and Ciao as thereddragon.
Summary: Excellent entertaining life simulator game