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The Sims 2 Preview

publisher: EA
developer: Maxis
genre: Management

PIII 800, 256MB RAM, 3GB HDD, 32MB video card
ESRB rating: T

release date: Sep 14, 04
» All About The Sims 2 on ActionTrip

The full blown sequel to The Sims, one of the most popular video games in the world, was showcased at the Electronic Entertainment Expo 2003. Even though The Sims hasn't always been the hardcore gaming crowd's favorite, there is no denying the game's appeal to the casual gamer. The game continues to sell relentlessly throughout the world; especially with the release of Sims Online and seemingly endless expansion packs for the original game. Will Wright, the designer of almost all of the Sims titles, means to take the god sim genre to the next level, totally changing the game's visuals and brining it closer to the world of next-gen 3D games. This way The Sims assumes an entirely different look, offering a visually richer gaming experience than ever before. It so happens that The Sims 2 will be the first Sims game ever to employ fully rendered 3D models, objects, and environments. Appreciably, this brings a whole new approach to gameplay as well. In other words, significant visual improvements have literally changed the world of Sims as we know it.

However, Sims fans shouldn't fret too much - the fundamental style will remain the same - you create a life and help it grow into the "real world." Pushing the boundaries of gameplay further, Maxis extended the lifetime of your sims, giving you a chance not only to nurture your Sims and watch them grow, but also to see them experience old age and finally wither away, leaving everything to their family (if any). So, you should ensure that your heirs develop into productive and responsible individuals, if you want to continue playing that is. This time around, the possibilities are limitless. Throughout their lives, each of the Sims can mature in his/her own way, which of course depends on the attention and life style you pattern out for them. Many factors influence Sim children and their behavior when they turn into adults. Exactly like in real life, this will depend on the way they were brought up - their nutrition, studying, social activities, etc. Characters who've managed to attain certain reputation and status, only goes to show how well they were raised as kids. If you control a single guy who, when he matures into an adult, possess business acumen and is well-tailored and clean, that means you've done a good job as a parent (or grandparent for that matter). Carefully tending to your children in The Sims 2 often brings about diverse interesting consequences. Each Sim needs to think about his or her future. Good reputation, manners, and a well-founded career create an ideal profile for getting your Sim a good mate - male or female. Let's face it - no female Sim wants to date a drunken slob with no job. (Take it from me - I know! - Ed) Therefore, the old recipe "behave, stay clean, and study" should work very effectively in the game (hell, if you've failed to achieve these standards in real life, like me, this will be your ideal opportunity to make amends). Still, that doesn't mean you cannot fix things if you happen to screw up somewhere along the road. If your sim gets to be fat and sluggish, you can improve his constitution and habits by buying a weight machine for instance - after that you can start pumping iron at will and just watch those muscles beefing up (hear that Six?) (Silence, Infidel! It's not a beer belly! It's my Gas Tank for LOVE! - Six) (No, it's a beer belly! Do some sit-ups, you FREAK! - 2Lions).

Unlike previous Sims games, the focus of gameplay remains on generations. When your first sim dies, every child he leaves behind can become a playable character. Pretty cool, you have to admit. Because of that, time is a very significant factor in the game, and it influences every move and decision you make. Advancing in your career, for instance, is something you may want to consider doing before you become a discarded and useless geezer. Sensible and on-the-spot thinking is always recommended when you're raising kids; the way you run a household seriously affects your entire family. But before you begin controlling and influencing the life of a newborn, you get to try out another major gameplay innovation - genetics. Players may now considerably alter the genes and appearance of a new character.

Everything can be set to your preference, from hair color and body shape, to various highly customizable facial features. This way you are able to create a completely unique character every time you play. Understandably, breeding will mix the genes of two sims and create a completely new sim that possesses a combination of features from both parents. The delightful bubble-bath scene (shown on the screenshot) conceals the two Sims, who are engaged in a round of... err... "sinful bathing." Before you breed though, you might want to consider increasing the social activities of your sims. Luckily, their overall behavior has greatly improved and now they are more aware of the environment and the presence of other sims. These behavioral changes will surely be a step up in terms of interacting and socializing.

When it comes to graphical enhancements, it's clear how much effort was made into making The Sims 2 different from its predecessor. The 3D engine does a terrific job for starters. We're really glad to see that The Sims have now made a remarkably effective transition to a full 3D. Now you can zoom in, zoom out, and rotate the camera freely and at any time during the game, as you watch your sims going about their daily activities. And, it's all much more fun to peek at since the models are highly detailed and fully rendered. The engine is extremely flexible and works quite smoothly, which we observed at the E3 demonstration. An exceptionally impressive addition to the visual effects, was the rain and thunder that would kick in randomly during the game, creating a rather gloomy atmosphere and making the sims feel rather dismal - enter the freshly enhanced animation system and detailed facial expressions... Thanks to that, the whole ride is a lot more personal, as players can now zoom closer into action and see in greater detail what their sims are up to. Also, the interface was refurbished and several parameters were altered and redesigned to allow a more intuitive and straightforward style of play. At first glance, the main interface appears the same as the old one, but some primary statistics were added or altered. For example, Maxis has now divided the "social" statistic of your Sims into "family" and "friends," and incorporated a new stat - "mind" - an indicator of mental stimulation.

What other new and exciting things await you in The Sims 2? Well, we'll have to wait until the beginning of 2004 to find that out. But, from what we've gathered, this promises to be one of the best Sims achievements to date. More updates and info are expected soon, so sit tight.



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