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The Sims 2 Console gets Hands-On with IGN!

Tuesday, September 13, 2005 - 23:00

"We dove straight into the Story mode and were immediately presented with the daunting character creation interface. Don't get us wrong, it's not daunting in the sense that it's complicated to use, it's daunting because there are such a ridiculous amount of customization options."

Read The Review!


Sims 2: Hands-On

by Charles Onyett

Console owners finally get to clean their toilets.

The Sims is back on consoles with The Sims 2 to give players another shot at commanding virtual people that need to take showers, urinate, and get jobs. In a time when violent games are getting banned and having their lewd content altered, it's refreshing to see a product that rewards players for cleaning and making sure they're on time for their carpool. It's certainly a title that gamers fed up with oversized monsters dripping with putrid saliva and covered in spiny barbs can escape to and find a world where things make sense, at least as much as a video game can.

We played through the beginnings of a near final version of The Sims 2, and are happy to report the game is looking solid. This console version of the PC title released in September 2004 featured both Story and Freeplay modes. Story mode is the primary play mode where players create their Sim and take them through 12 story locations while the Freeplay mode allows players to build their own stories and houses from scratch across four locales. Players will have access to almost 350 new objects and 30 unique NPCs. In addition, The Sims 2 gives players access to two different control modes: direct control where you command your Sim like in a third person action game, or a cursor based system like in previous Sims titles.

At its core, the Sims 2 is about satisfying your character's basic needs, which include bathing, sleeping, eating, socializing, and apparently watching television to avoid slumping into a depression. If you're depressed or unhappy, you'll have a harder time completing your wants. Wants are how the game progresses, and they change based on which ones you complete and what type of personality you give your character. Completing wants, especially gold and platinum wants, unlocks new furniture and food items, awards you aspiration points you can spend, and opens up new areas to live.

We dove straight into the Story mode and were immediately presented with the daunting character creation interface. Don't get us wrong, it's not daunting in the sense that it's complicated to use, it's daunting because there are such a ridiculous amount of customization options. We spent about an hour just perusing all the different effects of altering wardrobe, personality, and physical appearance.

The Sims 2 for Consoles
So many options. Head hurts.

Once you generate your random Sim you can pick between five main categories of further customization: body, fashion, aspiration, personality, and your character's name. With body you can alter almost every aspect of a character's facial structure, as well as fiddle with their body type, skin tone, hairstyle, facial hair, tattoos, and the list goes on. There were a large number of items available for every option, though some of them are locked until certain in-game goals are accomplished.

Fashion comes next, and rest assured you'll spend at least 20 minutes figuring out exactly what kind of undershirts, jackets, pants, skirts, jewelry, piercings, shoes, or other accessories your Sim will be donning. Some of the options get surprisingly detailed, even offering the option of white earbud headphones. Through all your choosing there are helpful controls to zoom in and out and make sure your clothes and flair are as coordinated as possible, or in our case as awesome as possible (check the new screens).

Finally, it's time to pick your aspiration which acts as the ideal to which your Sim strives and which governs the wants that pop up in your menu. We decided to go with creative, but you're also given the option of romance, wealth, knowledge, and popularity. So if you want to be an egomaniac bent on convincing others you're the best, a withdrawn devourer of literature, or insatiable consumer, you can go right ahead.

After your aspiration is set, you can move on to your personality where you'll pick a personality type based on the signs of the zodiac. Whether you pick Sagittarius, Scorpio or Taurus they all you preset character measurements for whether you'll be sloppy or neat, shy or outgoing, lazy or active, serious or playful, and grouchy or nice. You can also alter these further based on your own taste. We went with scorpio because, well, scorpions rock really hard. Finally, name your character and begin.

From the game's start in Rockwell Acres, you'll immediately be prompted to go jump on your trampoline to fulfill a want. In the process, if you were to bring up your pause menu, you'll notice you have various submenus where you can manage and view your skills information. Skills include cooking, mechanical, charisma, body, logic, creativity, and cleaning. It also displays your game progress with fashion found, recipes learned, objects unlocked, promotions earned, careers completed, skill points earned, skills at maximum, Sims helped, and locations discovered.

The pause menu is where you can view your Sim's wants and fears. Wants can range from inviting a Sim over, taking out the trash, or changing clothes. You also have certain fears, such as receiving a wedgie, telling a bad joke, or being threatened, all of which have positive and negative point values. Also viewable are the items you can build, buy, and a list of Sims you've either befriended or annoyed.

The Sims 2 for Consoles
The perfect ingredient, as long as you don't have to fight it.

Bouncing on the trampoline quickly got old, and since our roommates just got home, we decided to go say hi. Interacting socially with people earns you new friends once you've built up enough points. Building up points takes place by first talking, then moving onto more complex social interactions like telling a joke, impressing the person (in our case flipping around a vacuum), secret handshakes, hitting on them or charming them, slapping them, telling a joke or a dirty joke, using sock puppets, gossiping, and a wide array of other options, depending on whether the relationship heads in a friendly, hostile, or romantic direction.

We tried hitting on our one female roommate, but were severely rejected after several attempts to make out, and thereafter relegated to the friend zone. Weak. There are more than 60 new social moves you can make, all of which lead to different social stances including acquaintance, friend, best friend, crush, lover, and arch-enemy. Our rejection mattered little, however, since we turned our attention to a nearby paper, read it, and surprise, we learned a new cooking recipe. We then turned to the jobs section and accepted a position as a traveling salesman.

Once back inside the house and were immediately prompted to buy a bed. In terms of what you can buy there's a whole hell of a lot: seating, light fixtures, TVs, chairs, anything. After buying our single bed we decided it was time to get our character started on his creative side, so we bought an easel on which we promptly painted a picture of a monkey. It was not a conscious decision to paint a monkey, our Sim just did. Thereafter we sold it for one dollar. Obviously that's a skill we'll need to put some work into.

The food meter started blinking, so we went over to the fridge and checked the recipes menu. In an attempt to not just stuff any old greasy garbage down our gullet, we went with the sweet vegetable soup recipe, though there were many others to cook and be unlocked, all of which involved a combination of up to four ingredients. For our soup we took out carrots, lime and unfortunately we didn't have any passion fruit (which is a harvested fruit) so we said screw it and just ate a snack. Since we desperately needed to watch TV, we sat down on the couch and watch, which we did, until our male roommate decided to get up and start dancing in front of it. We got from the couch and left the room, it was time for bed anyway.

A car pulled up the next morning and we went to work. When we came back, we found we'd been promoted to Used Car Dealer. Wow, a $600 bonus and raise to $300 a week, we just couldn't wait to be promoted to telemarketer. A want popped up that said we should propose to our female roommate. Finally! We walked up to her amidst the rotting piles of a group meal that nobody ate but she rejected a kiss! How can we propose if she won't even agree to a simple smooch? Obviously some retooling was going to be involved here. We tried a hug and that didn't even work. So we opted to play a portable game with her, that didn't work, we tried to take a picture but she rejected us hard. We had to walk away. This was going to be more difficult than we thought.

All gossip aside, we eventually unlocked the next living area, Shoreline Trials, and took a cab to check it out. This property sat next to a body of water, and was filled with many more NPCs than our previous house, so we decided to stay. It also happened to have an artificial surfing machine and weight bench on the deck. Our job continued as it did before from our new location, and our roommates made the trip out with us. When we went to work the next morning, the game switched our control over to a new Sim, and players can expect that type of thing to happen throughout the game so you're not stuck waiting for the hours to pass while one character is at work.

The Sims 2 for Consoles
Might want to try that again, without the whole fire thing.

At no point during our period of play did we feel bored. There is constantly something to do whether it be washing dishes and making beds to cooking food or building furniture. The music was what could be expected, poppy rock and electronica. The graphics were clean and the characters were well animated, especially during the conversations.

We're definitely looking forward to this game's release, as we're sure are anyone that's overtly obsessive compulsive and takes great pleasure in cleaning, hygiene, and regular work schedules.

We'll keep you updated on this title before it ships later this year.

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