It seems to be a national pastime amongst PC gaming critics to knock The Sims at every opportunity, largely because of its astonishing popularity (it’s the highest selling PC game ever). But as the success of a game is ultimately judged by its re-playability, it’s not difficult to work out why creating a number of families and watching them live out their lives in a Sim neighbourhood can be so addictive.
The makers of Sim 2 have wisely done what many of their fellow game producers often fail to accomplish; they’ve listened to the complaints of their fans and tried their best to address them. The most obvious difference is the 3D graphics. No longer do you just have a top-down or side view of your little folk – now you can get up-close and personal, right inside individual rooms.
This also helps with the design side of the game, as you can have a much more accurate assessment of the décor of each room as you start buying supplies. You’ll notice too that there are far more facial expressions available, plus more options in creating the facial characteristics of your Sims. The only slight moan here is that you have a choice of figure size between slim and slightly larger – size 14 and over don’t seem to exist, although a person can plump out slightly if they refuse to exercise.
What happens to your Sim during his or her life is now much more crucial as another new element is the introduction of a true life cycle. You can now follow them literally from the cradle to the grave and a couple’s offspring can also be imprinted with the parent’s DNA, giving them some of their character traits.
Aspirations are therefore set when you create your Sims, and how fulfilled their life becomes depends on whether you help to steer them towards or away from those goals. Wants and fears constantly change and again it’s up to you how much you want to exercise your divine intervention.
There are three pre-selected neighbourhoods to set your residents in – Pleasantview (the friendly all-American neighbourhood of the original game), Veronaville (an updated Romeo and Juliet style split community) and Strangetown, which is an arid land unsurprisingly populated by aliens, spooks and general weirdos. You do have the option to create your own scenario which will keep the really dedicated fans deliriously happy.
There are built-in tutorials to help you get started, though these will be largely irrelevant for regular Sim players. The interface is the usual point ‘n’ click with optional actions highlighted and about the only novelty here is that you can encourage couples (including gay ones if you so desire) to have actual sex – with relevant areas pixellated out of course! Shades of Singles: Flirt Up Your Life. In short, this is the sequel every Sim aficionado has been praying for.
Company: Electronic Arts