Yahoo Previews The Sims 2

Thursday, September 18, 2003 - 23:10

"We have seen The Sims 2, and it rocks."

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We have seen The Sims 2, and it rocks.

The Sims 2 is the follow-on to The Sims, released in 2000. The Sims and The Sims 2 are "people simulators" that could also be characterized as twisted interactive dollhouses.

You create Sims and build houses for them. To sustain themselves and furnish their pads-as well as toys ranging from TVs to disco dancefloors to keep themselves entertained-Sims need to get jobs. When they're at home, you monitor your Sims and keep them happy by making sure that they eat, sleep, remain entertained, go to the bathroom (no, we're not making this up), and socialize. But the Sims sometimes have minds of their own. Leave them unsupervised, and you might return to find they've committed all sorts of mayhem, up to and including burning down the house.

The Sims is the bestselling PC game history. And while video games are normally the terrain of adolescent and postadolescent males, The Sims has drawn a huge following among women, particularly teen age girls.

We recently got a tour of The Sims 2, due out for the PC in early 2004. Our first impression is that The Sims 2 should be enough to make you turn off "The Bachelor," "Temptation Island," and "American Idol" for what amounts to a far more entertaining variety of interactive reality TV.

Lucy Bradshaw, a Maxis product-development executive, and Tim LeTourneau, the game's producer, touted qualities of the new game that focus on Sims having what amount to life spans. You create a Sim, and it passes on its DNA when it reproduces (again, we're not making this up). Sims experience "life's big moments," such as a first date or first kiss or getting married or divorced.

Oh, and the graphics are now in full 3D-and boy, are they pretty.

LeTourneau jollied in showing off a Sims 2 scene in which Teeny, a teenage Sim, had her friends over for a party and maneuvered one of the boys into her first kiss.

LeTourneau instructed Teeny to walk over to the boy and flirt, only to have her ambition thwarted by her baby brother, who crawled over to the pair to cry and hunger. Teeny then went to the kitchen to give her brother a bottle and returned to the object of her desire. When she got her wish and the kiss happened, she was momentarily enveloped in a swirl of stars and hearts to indicate that one of life's big moments had occurred.

Moments later, Teeny's parents showed up from work to bust the shindig up. The entertainment value of the scene was enough to make "Joe Millionaire" pale in comparison.

Bradshaw showed off Sim creation tools that will allow players to create radically customized characters by manipulating everything from facial features to personality features (the latter can also be influenced by events that happen to Sims once game play begins).

"It's all going to mix in to make it a really emergent system," Bradshaw said.

If all of this seems like a lot to take in and manage, rest assured that the interface seemed clean and the controls easy to learn. Still, all of this realism and control will come at a price. To run The Sims 2, you're going to need a brawny, late model PC with a beefy video card.

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