The Sims 2 Review

The Sims gets a sequel.

Review by Tracy Bosworth
Published 21st September 2004

The Sims 2

  • Developer: Maxis
  • Publisher: EA Games
  • Release Date: 17th September 2004

Unless you’ve been living down a big, dark hole for the past 4 years, The Sims will need no introduction. Not only was this game the biggest selling PC game of all time but it also offered a completely new experience for all those wannabe Gods out there, there was nothing like it before and apart from the numerous expansion packs the only thing that came close afterwards was Singles: Flirt Up Your Life which was basically The Sims, with more emphasis on bedroom antics!

But now, after much anticipation, The Sims 2 has arrived! If there is anyone out there still asking “but what are The Sims?” then you really need to get out more, or maybe I need to get out more? Either way The Sims offers a simple concept, players get to create a little computer person (or a whole family), design them a house and then completely run (or ruin!) their lives from their career, relationships and even bathroom habits. So what is The Sims 2? Well take everything I’ve just said and make it 100 times better and you have The Sims 2!

As soon as you start the game up the first major change that hits you are the games graphics which take The Sims totally into 3D, the 3 pre-designed neighbourhoods that come with the game are huge filled with tree’s, rivers, bridges, flying birds and of course an array of houses (some empty and some housing numerous new families) and what’s more, each neighbourhood is totally different with their own stories and overall style, fans of the first game will recognise many of the families in “Pleasantville” such as the Goths who now consist of a greying Mortimer and an adult Cassandra, Bella has mysteriously vanished however.

The next change that hit us was the “Create a family” option which has also had a major overhaul allowing players to create totally custom Sims with a number of hairstyles, hair colours, pre-set faces, types of facial hair, eye colour and clothes and to make it even more editable, players can fiddle with numerous parts of their Sim to get him or her looking just right from the shape of their eyes, width of their chin and length of their nose; everything is customisable. In short, players can re-create anyone they want to from real life family members to celebrities to a spooky likeness providing they have the time and patience to mess around with the editor for long enough! As I’m sure you have guessed, this “create a Sim” editor is a massive improvement on the first games “create” mode but if we’re going to be picky, one cant help wondering why Maxis left out other important feature changers in the editor such as height and a few more body shapes (at present we have thin and fat), I know there is always room for expansion packs (as we know from the original!) but with such an excellent “Create” mode, it’s a shame they didn’t go the whole way and add more body adjusters.

So, you’ve chosen a neighbourhood (or created your own), have created a family of Sims and are now ready to move them into a pre-made house or design them your own. Should you choose the latter you will notice the next obvious change to the franchise. The build tool has been considerably improved, houses can have a maximum of 3 floors as well as foundations and a roof top floor allowing players to build much bigger homes for their families than in the first game and as you would expect, the game offers a much wider variety of floors, doors, windows, wall coverings and fences allowing players to really design a custom home from scratch and thanks to the 3D graphics and variety of build tools homes in The Sims 2 look much more realistic than ever before.

Also to feature a lot more variety is the “buy” mode which gives a number of colour and style variations with almost everything that is available to buy, clicking on a bed for instance will bring up a number of options including the colour of the wood and bed covers allowing you to truly mix and match the objects in your house.

So onto the actual gameplay and again, despite the concept of the game being the same (keep your Sims happy) The Sims 2 feels different from the very moment you being to control your families, for a start the ‘characters’ that you create have a much deeper feel to them, they seem to show expressions, develop their own feelings and come with a host of new animations that allow them to show off their new personalities. No longer do they carry the very basic needs such as “bladder” and “hunger” (although you still have to tend to these), your Sims now come with life aspirations meaning they aspire to a particular goal in life from fortune (their goal is to be rich), knowledge (these Sims have a passion for learning), Family (self explanatory, family orientated), Popularity (these Sims “need” to be popular) and Romance (again, self explanatory).

You simply cannot explain this without an example so take my family of Sims, “The Simtons” which consist of a mother (Sarah) and father (Dave) and a young son (Robert). Now, Sarah was blessed with the family aspiration and wanted nothing more than a big, happy family. Unfortunately for her she was partnered (by my good self!) to Dave who had the fortune aspiration meaning he was obsessed with earning money, getting the kid into private school and swatting for promotion. Down the road lived the young “Andrew” who carried with him the romance aspiration and whilst Dave was at work one day, Andrew and Sarah got to know each other pretty well, in fact, they ended up sleeping together, nothing too exciting so far right? Well unfortunately little Robert had seen the goings on and was stood outside waiting to greet his father from work in tears, Dave came home and Sarah came running downstairs all very innocent, she walked past Dave as if nothing had happened with a sheepish wipe of her mouth and a quick shake of the head Sarah thought she had gotten away with her quick rumble upstairs…Dave however had been told of what had happened and refused to speak to her for days, in fact it took quite a while for me to get their marriage back on track! At this point, you would’ve been forgiven for forgetting that these characters are not real people, despite the great job they do of convincing you otherwise!

Another way they try to convince you of their realism is through their animations, Sims will now lounge across the settee with their feet up and head resting in their hands, in bed adult Sims will cuddle up to each other and when watching TV, parents and children can snuggle up together while two adults can get “romantic” on the couch! I bought one of my Sims a double bed after it showed up as a “want” of hers (more on this later), she was so pleased with her new possession that she promptly began re-arranging the pillows and then laid down on it and began day dreaming, it looked so realistic. Toddlers can also be found crawling across the floor in search of an adult and young children play a number of games including the very violent “cops and robbers” which involves one of them falling to the ground after being “shot” by the other!

Ok, so The Sims 2 is more realistic, what else is new? Well as mentioned earlier, the Sims now develop “wants and fears” in addition to their “needs”, wants usually accompany the Sims aspiration so a “fortune Sim” will constantly want expensive furniture, promotions and money whilst a “popularity Sim” will want to make new friends and host big parties. Fears can be based on a number of things such as the death of a loved one, a grade D report card or a rejection of a kiss, its your job to fulfil their wants and stay clear of their fears and watch the aspiration metre fill up, points are awarded for completed wants and a good aspiration meter puts your Sims in a ‘platinum’ mood.

Finally, your Sims will now age, there are 6 stages to a Sims life ranging from baby, toddler, child, teenager, adult and finally, old age and unlike in the original game, Sims can now die of old age. Families are also backed by a family tree meaning that the game remembers who is related to who so in practice, you could raise a child to a teenager, through adulthood, witness them raise their own children and finally grandchildren before he or she dies leaving a long history behind him. This feature adds tons to the depth of the gameplay.

So that’s the game, but the question is, was it worth the 4 year wait? In a word, yes. The Sims 2 is what everyone wanted The Sims to be, the graphics are great, Sims get a couple of days off work and school for socialising and brushing up on skills, everything is fully customisable from the houses to the Sims themselves and the aging system coupled with the aspiration system just makes The Sims 2 more addictive than ever and what’s more, they no longer take 1 hour to use the toilet and no longer need to go to bed at 17:00 in order to get up for work in a morning! If you’re a fan of the original, you will love this, if you hated The Sims first time around, chances are you will hate this one too but on the whole Maxis have done an excellent job of creating a successful sequel to the best selling PC game of all time.

Review Score: 8.8/10

Please note, this review was scored using our old system. For more information please see our review policy.

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