The Sims 2
On its surface The Sims 2 is a game with few changes. The graphics are bigger, more detailed, and more emotive. The audio has more variety. But the gameplay is still all Sims, controlling the lives of a collection of digital people as they make their way through mostly mundane lives. As you dig into the game however you quickly find that this is a much more robust, mature and complex game than the original, leaving you with the impression that this is Will Wrights dream finally realized.
Just about everything that drives The Sims 2 is different. The biggest difference is in the Sims themselves. Sure you can still boss them around, leading them to great heights or horrible despair, but now you don't have to. These Sims seem to think for themselves in many ways as they have been given limited memories, desires and fears. They also now have true family connections and the ability to age from birth to death at an old age. As they age and their family grows your Sims change.
It's amazing to behold.
One of the biggest gameplay changes to The Sims 2 is the aspiration system which is built around a Sims fears and hopes. If you fulfill a Sims desires they don't age and you gain aspiration points which can be used to purchase items. If enough of their fears come true they go temporarily insane, in a disturbingly realistic manner.
The look of the game has also changed pretty drastically. You can now zoom in to watch the 3D Sims interact with each other and the world around them. This new world is swarming with fun little details, like clocks that actually show the time or televisions that have real shows.
The design features for the Sims homes and towns have also been enhanced. Now you can fine tune the look of each Sim, creating virtual reproductions of friends and family and if you marry two people in the game you can have the computer automatically produce a child using genetics.
The homes now have a lot more options for architecture and interior design and The Sims 2 even allows you to create your own towns. You can even import cities from Sims City 4 to live in.
The audio has been upgraded as well, though not nearly as much as the rest of the game. The soundtrack isn't much different from the music of the original Sims, but the Sims language, Simlish, has received some polishing.
The Sims 2 is a fantastic answer to the original game, delivering just the right amount of tuning to perfect Will Wright's vision without messing too much with the original formula. This game will make Sims fans ecstatic and may even attract some new ones with its improved look and sound and easier to maintain population.
Download The Sims 2
How do you go about creating a sequel to the biggest-selling PC game franchise of all time? A game that has single-handedly bucked the demographic of PC gaming, embracing the casual player while alienating the hardcore? It's a tricky proposition, but there's little sign of panic at the Maxis office, half an hour outside San Francisco. With the walls adorned with artwork from Sim titles down the years employees beaver away in their individual cubes, emerging only to chow down on a quality selection of food and beverages. It's almost like a slightly less surreal version of the game. Sim Sims anyone?
Top Sim is of course Will Wright, the man who started it all. Among other things, this has earned him an office with a view, outside of which sits an impressively comprehensive shrine to Elvis Presley. Having sold 24 million copies, he's probably not that worried (Will, not Elvis), but he is aware of how The Sims is perceived.
One of the things we're planning to address in The Sims 2 is to make a game that is strategically really deep and one that will appeal to the hardcore gamers. he explains. And also graphically state-of-the-art, which The Sims never was. The feeling of immersion in The Sims 2 is much higher, it feels much more immersive than looking down on to little toy characters.
The Generation Game
That much is evident from a quick scan at this page, with the game boasting full 3D environments and intelligent lighting. But there is far more to The Sims 2 than a bit of cosmetic surgery. Probably the biggest advance is the fact that your Sims now physically age. going through six generational stages, namely baby, toddler, child, teenager, adult and elder (followed by worm food). Gone is the static Groundhog Day approach of the original game, as depending on your Sims' time of life - and indeed their personalities - their needs and behaviour will be vastly different.
As well as the signs of ageing, other physical aspects will also be visible, with lazy, greedy Sims sporting grotesque paunches, for instance. Physical features can be handed down via DNA, something worth considering when designing their faces using the new Create-A-Sim tool, which should be downloadable before the game is even released.
Throughout your Sims' lives, instilling good key memories is crucial to achieving a high Life Score. So having a first kiss as a teenager will see them in good stead; having it at the age of 58 probably less so. Sims will also be far more complex than in the previous game, and their experiences - good or bad - will have a tangible effect on their behaviour. So if you manage to raise a shiny happy Cornflakes family, you'll be repaid with a decent Life Score. Alternatively, screw up their lives and you'll turn out a generation of embittered, angry sociopaths. Welcome to the real world.
The life simulator returns, with slightly less potty micromanagement and slightly more direct control of your sim via amusing minigames. But the loading times on PSP are too frequent and delay the already slow-paced action.
If you grew tired of The Sims long ago, this won't renew your enthusiasm for obsessive home furnishing.