The Sims 2 PS2 Review

The Sims is one of the biggest selling video game franchises ever. Created by Will Wright, it has spawned many an expansion pack and will probably continue to do so. Originally released in September 2005 on PC, after the failure that was The Urbz: Sims in the City, EA have decided to go back to the drawing board for console-based Sims games. The idea they’ve come up with is to bring their massively popular PC game The Sims 2 over to consoles. So now we are up to date, it is my job today to review The Sims 2 for you nice people out there. Released on several platforms including PlayStation 2, Xbox, Gamecube, Nintendo DS and Gameboy Advance, and there is also a PSP version in development. The main idea behind all Sims games applies here; you play a sort of god and it’s up to you to fulfill all your Sim’s needs, wishes and make sure they are okay. Of course you can always not do that and make their lives a misery, as it is up to you. Will EA finally replicate the Sim’s magic on consoles? It’s time to find out.

Graphics

The Sims experience has never been about how good its graphics are or how nice they look, but that has not stopped Maxis making sure the game looks the part. From the outset, you will notice the great use of colour in the game; lots of bright and contrasting shades are used throughout. The framerate is always steady, as you would expect from any Sims game, as it is not like the engine has to render heaps of things at once. The game has a mixture of both nice looking textures and average ones; outside the house, it looks ordinary. Other houses or gardens or even the street don’t look particularly beautiful either, but it is not a place that you will be spending a lot of your Sim’s life in, so it is not really a major concern. One annoyance I have found with the game is that when you are wandering about exploring the outside world you run into invisible walls. Trying to cross the street is a no-go area, next door is a no-go area, everywhere apart from your house is a no-go area. I appreciate that it is not part of the game to explore those places, but I feel EA could have gone about it in a better way, rather than planting invisible walls in the way.

However, for the most part, the graphics hold up fine, especially around the house. There are some nice effects used. For instance, when food is rotting it gives off a green smell, which then travels through the house. Also, things like puddles in the bathroom let you see your reflection as you do your business on the toilet; nothing amazing but a nice effect nonetheless. One thing in particular that I liked was all the animations provided by your Sim during conversations. From obvious ones like kissing, to things like telling a joke, your Sim lets you know exactly what it is they are doing; it does almost seem lifelike the way they interact with each other, if only we could understand what it is that they jibber about.

Gameplay

As in any Sims game, the idea behind it is to guide your Sim on its way and make sure it is well fed, clean and has a good job. The PC version of The Sims 2 introduced the features of aging, having children and eventually meeting grim (dying). Sadly, these have been omitted from the console version, EA, instead, opting to give you more extras and unlockables. There are two control methods with which you can control your sim; the first is to move using a third-person view, moving your sim with the left analogue stick and using the ‘X’ button to interact with objects or other Sims. The second control method is the classic one. Using the left analogue stick as a mouse, you move the cursor to objects or Sims and press the ‘X’ button to interact; you rotate the camera and zoom in and out using the right analogue stick. The shoulder buttons allow you to switch between various objects, such as the radio or the fridge, as well as allowing you to fast forward actions your Sim may be doing, such as sleeping.

The game has two modes to choose from; ‘Story mode’ is the main single player game and allows you to create a Sim and then do what you want with it. The other mode is called ‘freeplay’ and you can either create a family or take over a new one. Creating a new one allows you to evict other families from homes, or even bulldoze them down in order to build your own. In story mode, each Sim has aspirations, and this influences what they want to achieve in their life (known as ‘wants’) and things that they want to avoid (known as ‘fears’). The game uses a panel, which displays your Sim’s current wants and fears; it also includes an aspiration meter. Every time you fulfill one of your Sims wants, it boosts the aspiration meter and a new want takes the old ones place. This is also the same for fears; except experiencing one will decrease your aspiration metre. Along the way, you will come across two special types of wants, accomplishing ‘Gold’ wants will advance you though the story mode, and fulfilling a certain number of them will unlock a special want. Once you unlock a ‘Platinum’ want it stays with your Sim until they complete it, and doing so will unlock new locations for you Sim to visit.

Key to the game is the socialising mode, as this is how your Sim interacts with fellow Sims, and depending on what type of Sim you’ve created each have different socialising requirements. Some like to have lots of romance whereas others like to make many friends. Depending on how you interact with other Sims, your Sim can develop all manner of different feeling towards another Sim, such as love or hate. When you choose to talk to another Sim you enter what is known as ‘Social mode’, and this presents you with a variety of options to do to the Sim you are talking to, which include telling jokes and playing games. Depending on your feeling towards the Sim in question, you may also see options such as propose, or makeout. Your choice of option and whether they are successful or not builds, or takes away, points for that relationship. If you want to make a friend with a Sim or become a lover then you need to reach a certain number of points before that relationship reaches the status.

The other mode in the game allows your Sim to develop new skills, or attributes, such as cooking, mechanics, charisma, etc. For example, learning how to cook will allow your Sim to cook better food, therefore making them feel better. You can also buy things, which can lead to different outcomes. For example buying a double bed will increase your chance of finding your Sim a partner. You can also build things in the game, including walls and fences, install new flooring in your Sim’s house and even be your own Charlie Dimmock by landscaping the garden. As in any other Sims game, it’s up to you to find your Sim a career, and there are a total of ten which you find by looking in newspapers and online using a computer. The more you look after your Sim the better its life is. For example, making sure it is well fed and clean will send your Sim off to work happy, which in turn, may net your Sim a promotion. There is a vast array of different things to do in the game, and it will take you many hours to complete them all.

I have a couple of problems with the game. For some reason Story Mode and Freeplay share the same save slot on your memory card. So if you’ve built up a Sim and want to start a family then you will have to either not save it or delete your Story mode Sim. This is a bit stupid as it stops you fully enjoying both modes of the game. Another small grievance I have is the load time; moving between different screens is not a quick experience, especially when creating your Sim at the start of the game. It takes ages for the options to load up and then to get a preview of the chosen option. The game is slightly faster on Gamecube and Xbox but is pretty slow on PS2, so if you have a choice between different consoles go with anything other than the PS2.

Sound

One thing unique to the Sims game is the god-awful language that Sims like to speak. It does make you wonder what on earth they are blabbering on about when you see a Sim react to something which has been blurted … anyways the language is fully present in this game, as you would expect. The Sims 2 also includes heaps of sound effects which range from flushing toilets to taking out the trash; it all sounds spot on and adds to the effect of a real household. The sound track in the game is also another good point, and is full of feel good soft rock/emo songs. (I actually found myself singing along at times.) Another good effect is the ability to change whatever song is on by going to the radio and selecting a different one, not that I ever changed it.

Lifespan

The Sims 2 has the ability to last for a very long time; it will take you ages to unlock all the extras, build up the different relationships, but most of all it will take you a long time to complete the wants and fears and fill up your aspiration meter. You can spend time building your house and buying things to decorate your house with. Even after completing all this, you can go back and do it again by creating a different Sim with a unique personality, which will present a whole host of different aspirations to your previous sim. After you have finished the story mode you can attempt the freeplay mode, which sees you building your own family and moving into a choice of different neighbourhoods and raising your own family. Even after that, you can play two-player mode and use the Eye Toy camera for extras. The Sims 2 really is a game that lasts.

Overall

For the majority of time this was a game that I quite enjoyed. The vast array of different things you can do with your sim is wonderful, from making them into a hippy that loves the world to creating a red-blooded woman that likes to sleep about, it’s all there and then some. The graphics in the game are nice enough without ever excelling as the gameplay is really where the game shines. As I have already said , it will amaze you how many little things you can do with your Sim, and all the things they do make it seem like they are a real human person. I love the sounds of this game; from the whacky language to the great use of sound effects, and tracks provided in-game. As with the majority of Sim games, this will last you however long you want it to. I got bored after a while with my sim in story mode, and I did not find the other mode, freeplay, that interesting. More an extension of the story mode than an actual mode by itself. There are a host of unlockables in the game, but most are just unnecessary items that are of little worth. It’s not all good though. The problem with the save game slot and the long load times did irritate me, and after a while the game does become repetitive, as you are doing the same thing all time. Once you have achieved and witnessed all the various relationships in the game, there is not that much else to do. Hardcore Sims fans will have no qualms about adding this to their collection. I would recommend this to newbie’s to the series and to people looking for a game with a bit of length. However, if you get bored easily, then this is not the game for you.

8.1 out of 10

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