The Sims 2 Review
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The Sims 2 is a great sequel and a great game in its own right, and it's recommendable to just about anyone.
If you were wondering, The Sims 2 is a great sequel and a great game in its own right, and it's recommendable to just about anyone. For some, especially the devoted fans that have enjoyed the first game's open-ended gameplay, which was all about controlling the lives of autonomous little computer people, this is all that really needs to be said. But considering that The Sims 2 is the sequel to what is reportedly the most successful computer game ever (and that's not even counting its many expansion packs), the new game almost seems like a victim of its own success. Yes, it introduces plenty of new features that enhance the gameplay that was so popular in the original game, but it doesn't drastically refresh it. It also features plenty of options to play with, but it seems like it could've used even more content. Then again, you could simply say that EA and Maxis are making sure the game has room to grow with future updates--and there's no denying that The Sims 2's additions will give dedicated fans of the series plenty of stuff to do.
In the most basic terms, The Sims 2, like The Sims before it, lets you create one or more "sims"--autonomous characters with distinct personalities and needs. You then create a virtual household of one or more sims (you get to decide whether they're roommates, spouses, or parents) and move them into a house and a neighborhood that is either prebuilt or built from scratch. Your sims interact with each other and with their neighbors, children leave the house for school each day, and employed adults head out for work to earn a living in one of a number of different career paths. However, the sequel has several new options, including an enhanced neighborhood editor that lets you import custom cities from Maxis' own SimCity 4, if you have that game installed. Plus, there are expanded building options that let you build a much bigger house.
But the most significant additions in the new game are probably the enhancements made to the sims and the ways they act. While they still have specific personality types determined by their horoscopes and individual characteristics like neatness, niceness, and playfulness (which you can still adjust to your taste), sims now have some notable major new features (some of which are more important than others), like memories, customized appearances, genetics, aging, and the new aspiration/fear system. Memories are generated by important events that occur in sims' lives, like getting married, having a child, or having a loved one pass away. Memories impact your sims' future behavior (though not to any huge extent), and they can also be used to build out a highly customized neighborhood with its own background story and photo album if you're so inclined, though they don't add much more to the basic game.
The sequel also features enhanced appearance editing tools that let you customize your sims' clothing, hairstyle and hair color, and also let you make many adjustments to their facial features. Oddly, the editor doesn't let you adjust your sims' height or their build (beyond making them "normal" or "fat"), but it, along with the "body shop" utility, should let most players basically re-create whatever characters they want to from their favorite TV shows or movies.
The appearance editors go hand in hand with genetics, which takes the ability to create a family of sims and builds it out further, though what you get out of this new feature depends entirely on what you put into it. Essentially, this new system lets sims pass on genetic information to their children. When creating a new family, you can have the game randomly generate that family's children based on the parent's appearance and personality (and you can further edit the child's appearance and personality however you like, if you prefer). Depending on your preferences, you may find yourself messing around with the genetics system in other ways. You might try to carefully re-create a real-life couple or family to see what kind of genetics they pass on. Or, you might toss some alien DNA into the family tree to see what happens, as The Sims 2 also lets you create aliens from outer space that you can marry off to humans, if that's what floats your boat.
More importantly, sims maintain their family ties (assuming you don't have any dramatic family squabbles), so if you decide to really hunker down and build out an extended clan, you can start with a carefully designed family or group of families, let them get married, and let them have children. You can then watch the children grow up and move out into their own places. And since sims are still autonomous and go about their lives even without supervision, you can expect to later receive visits from doting grandparents (or mooching grandchildren, depending on whose household you decide to control). Again, like memories, these are features that will reveal their rewards with the extra time and effort you choose to spend on them.
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