Singles: Flirt Up Your Life Review
publisher: Eidos Interactive
PIII 500, 64MB RAM, 16MB video card
|ESRB rating: M
release date: May 24, 04
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Sex is funny (and often fun). Especially when performed by people who only practice one sexual position. Sex is even funnier if two individuals perform it for the first time. But sex is probably the funniest when it's not practiced at all, but rather observed as it's simulated by polygonal animated characters on your computer screen. (And if this is the only sex you can observe, it's even funnier, if not a little sad. - Six)
What is it about people and voyeurism? Voyeurism is so popular these days that it even has an official name - bird watching. Of course we all know that your uncle's little tree house, right across this young couple's flat, is not entirely intended for the scientific observation of feathery creatures. He doesn't really need high-tech binoculars with a 8.1Mpixel digital camera built in to create his ultimate bird collection.
Ouch! Careful with that knee!
Don't you ever trim your toenails?
Nope, bird watching is just a front, my young reader (I mean adult reader [Riiight. - Six]). You'll learn that the first time you're given a chance as a young teenager to do a little bird watching of your own. Yep, when Stacey's mom casually drops her towel as she's walking in the house, still wet from having a good soak at the outdoor Jacuzzi in her back yard, revealing her well-toned, apple-shaped ass to you for the first time, you'll instantly learn the joys of actual bird watching. Boy Scout or not, you'll be raising your tent that day, my young reader, and from that moment on you'll become an avid bird watcher for life. And you'll thank the modern science for inventing all these high tech gadgets to keep you really close to your birds. (Wait, you mean to tell me that's not how everyone feels about bird watching? - Six)
That said, bird watching can be done in several different ways: you can get your hands dirty by climbing up that ledge or oak tree and taking shots of birds, or you can insert a shiny CD in your CD-ROM drive and play a game that will let you do exactly that - only the young couple ... I mean birds ... won't be of flesh and blood, but of the more polygonal nature. All's well though as every true bird watcher needs some hands-off training before becoming efficient at the real stuff.
And if you happen to love The Sims, this hands-off simulated PC experience will become all the merrier, as Singles is essentially better looking Sims with the addition of sex and romance in its most natural form.
The funny thing is that when your penis is blurred by censorship you have a real hard time (no pun intended) making love to a woman. You see your penis first has to exist in order to be able to perform. It's the same with the female sexual organ. So don't buy all that talk that the characters in The Sims are doing something with each other, because it's a well known fact that you can't penetrate anything when your tool is blurred out.
The folks at Digital Silver were obviously well aware of that fact. Funny as it can be, sex actually requires reproductive organs to be well focused (in every way) to work properly.
I've explained most of the mechanics and basic features of Singles in my hands-on preview of the game, so I'll just quickly go over the most important stuff.
Singles is played very much like The Sims only the focus of game play is not on getting more stuff, but on getting it on with your roommate. This roommate of yours can be gay or straight, it all depends on who you pick at the outset. Know however that there are only two gay characters available, while there are plenty of heterosexuals to choose from.
The Single's core game play can be broken down into several key parameters. You have to nurture the relationship between your characters by making them become good friends that understand each other and communicate well. But you also have to mind the more sensual side of their relationship by making sure that they're not just all talk and no play. And by play I mean doing the wild thing in their designer made double bed, snuggling a lot, French kissing and so on. The third important parameter in this game, which is basically taken from The Sims, is the accent on acquiring better, more expensive stuff and working on your environment so that you have to spend less time micro managing your characters.
The rest of the options, as well as how the game play is carried out, is mostly a blatant copy of The Sims, with similar interface, unintelligible babbling between the characters that is supposed to convey emotions, many options for redecorating your crib, similar AI routines and patterns and so on.
The fundamental difference between the two games is the shift of focus from the consumer philosophy that is simply overwhelming in The Sims to a more humane and noble goal of getting your two characters to love each other in every possible way. Other smaller differences include a much more spirited writing reflected in the short, graphically represented dialogues between your characters that are actually funny and interesting to read. One other minor difference is the way you level up your characters. While Sims takes the more intuitive approach (your characters gain experience as they do certain things that are related to the skills they're developing), characters in Singles accumulate experience points which you can then allocate to a number of different skills any way you see fit.
These are not major differences of course, and the only real, essential difference is the abovementioned focus on building a relationship between your characters while also creating the right mood for them to get physical and have some honest to goodness sex with the muffled moans, jerky movement and everything.
6.9 Above Average
Zany, entertaining and addictive ... while it lasts, a shift in game play focus is a nice change for a Sims-like game;
Low replay value, short, needs more creative content in the sex department to justify the adult label, performance and camera issues.