The Sims 2: University
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It Was hardly the world's biggest gamble to suggest that EA would soon be churning out Sims 2 add-on packs, and the only real surprise is that it has taken this long. Given the Sims' new-found aging ability, the subject matter is appropriate enough, and the University expansion sees 'young adults' attempting to acquire an education in the face of the inevitable distractions. At an English university this would involve a heady combination of grinding poverty, petty crime, random sexual encounters and narcotic excesses resulting in borderline psychosis. Cunningly manage to cheat in your finals, and you could even walk away with a degree (albeit of little use).
Given that The Sims 2: University is based on an American campus, our com-fed students live in luxury houses replete with widescreen TVs, pumping hi-fis, games consoles, pinball tables and even Jacuzzis. Having more in common with MTV Cribs than the squalid rat-infested hovels, coat-hanger aerials and Sensible Soccer tournaments of our squandered education, it also looks considerably more fun. So whether it's orchestrating the Frat Boy toga parties, or attempting to maintain peace between Heather, Tiffany and Brittany, it provides an insight into a world we will never know. Naturally, the saccharine Sims approach is still in place, and what you effectively get is a sanitised version of the John Belushi film, Animal House.
A number of gameplay advances have been made, however, with the introduction of proper NPCs who can be influenced by any of your core group of Sims. For instance, you can kick back with a beer while you get some loser to do your course work. This of course gives you more time to invite the local girls' dorm over for a spit roast, or simply a straightforward barbecue.
At some stage, your charges will have to buckle down and get some work done, but encouragingly, success isn't limited to boffins and eggheads. More sociable Sims may be able to influence tutors, and the more dishonest can simply cheat. With 11 majors to choose from, the ultimate goal is to graduate and follow one of four career paths, inevitably resulting in a well-paid, soul-destroying job, some casually held right-wing views and a new car every two years.
Before the dream dies though, there are plenty of hi-jinks to be had at Sims University, incorporating the trademark surrealist humour associated with the series. It's not a quantum leap from the source material, but the subtle gameplay advances and new environments will give fans a new lease of life. Ultimately though, watching a bunch of spoilt brats enjoying themselves often feels more like retribution than entertainment.
Download The Sims 2: University
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP