The Sims 2 - Gaming Nirvana

I’ve played about 30 hours of this game, and the first 4.5 or so were a rare treat… gaming nirvana. After that it moved to “very fun and addicting”.

I’ll probably be playing 100+ hours of this game over the coming month, so I’ll have more to say on it later. I’ll point out some standout goods and bads so far…

The Presentation is exceptional. Colorful, bright, pretty much the Suburban Dream come true. There is a certain sensibility here that is an impressive achievement. Great interface, easy to operate. The camera works fine.

In a game so heavily dependent on social relationships, those relationships are very shallow and simplistic. For example, the Sim you are controlling controls all other Sims in too easy a fashion. If you Chat with someone, you won’t be thwarted except in very rare cases. This is a common problem with games in general, but it stands out more here. Other people don’t have their own agendas. Other Sims are passive responders… you might either succeed or fail in building a friendship but either way it won’t conflict with the other Sim’s agenda since they don’t have one. Other Sims don’t age (unlike the Sim you are controlling) and they always seem exactly the way you’ve left them in your last interaction (minus time apart relationship degradation). The Sims have work/school and “sleep” hours, but that’s the only sign of any life they have apart from you.

The environmental modeling is also simplistic. Sims can respond to music through a wall (or maybe its through a window), but seemingly nothing else. A lover can be waiting outside, and they don’t respond at all to female laughter in the next room. Its very much line-of-sight with respect to that.

While Sims respect the privacy/sovereignty of home ownership, they think nothing of continuously stealing the money off my Money Tree. They also seem to think they’ve done nothing wrong.

Cops must be Liberals in Sim Land. I saw a Burglar entering the premises, called a Cop, she came over and proceeded to get beaten up by the Burglar! This was early in my game when I was poor, and I lost $3,000 worth of stuff, and was trying frantically to find an option to either beat up the Cop myself or sue the Police Department for incompetence. Instead, the Cop recovered and walked off without a word!

Very few bugs. The only one I can think of off the top of my head is that sometimes after I’ve eaten (if the counter is full) my Sim puts the empty plate on the ground, and sometimes the dish disappears (not needing to be Cleaned Up like usual).

Other Sims not aging while your Sim does is an issue for me. While still learning the interface and stuff to do, it is easy for your Sim to go through one third of their life and then marry someone who hasn’t aged a lick since you met them (though they are pretty advanced in their careers and skills - does that happen during the game or is it prefab?).

Aging also seems to happen pretty quickly. Kind of a letdown considering the young adult phase is the best part of the game. Having a baby when your threescore years and ten are nearing their expiration is a real pain - especially when pregnancy (very amusing) takes up so much of the process. Thankfully Maxis included the aging cheat code, so we can disable it when we want.


They do have a cheat code…

I haven’t tested it myself, but I assume it works. I just beat aging with the elixirs.

How unbalancing is the aging cheat? After about 5hrs of the game, I’m already “clockwatching” the age of my Sim, who’s halfway through his pre-elder life. So much is it bothering me, that I’m already considering using the cheat. I presume that because they tell you about it in the manual, that it’s a fully supported feature?

I’m also disappointed that other Sims don’t age. A basic dynasty subroutine shouldn’t have been too difficult for them. Sims 2 would have really benefitted from the sort of approach to virtual community simulation seen in Europa 1400. I suppose the inevitable expansion conveyor belt may provide for this.

I like the game, but I don’t think it’s such a leap forward that people will abandon the hugely content-rich Sims 1 product line. Sims 2 seems scarce of purchaseables in comparison, and a much more limited experience than a maxed out copy of the original.

In summary then: Iterative

Edit: Oh, and there’s something really fucked in the engine - I visited the mall for the first time today and the game slowed to a crawl, on an Athlon XP2800, 9800 Pro, 1gb 3200 DDR system. This PC ate Far Cry and Doom 3 for breakfast. When I shut the game down, the disk thrashes like mad. Not good.

Other Sims do age, provided you play them. I believe the thinking was if you had multiple Sims in a neighborhood, then they’d age and die when were playing others and what fun is that? And what fun is it jumping from house to house constantly to manage multiple families? If you’re dying to have the generic friend Sims get old, marry 'em. This was so totally not a problem for me. As for the aging in general, I was leery of this as well but that anti-agin elixir works wonders and it’s really not hard to get. I had one household with five of them lined up against a wall bomb-shelter style. Or you could cheat. At any rate, your Sims can hover at an age without cheating if you want them to.

You don’t need the cheat. Each drink of the youth portion sets you back three days, and there are 6 or 8 drinks per bottle. If you manage time well you should live a very long time, maybe even forever is you are really the master of your aspirations.

The aging thing is tough. I split time on the computer with another player. If she were courting another denizen of the neighborhood and then I went on a weekend marathon and caused the person she was after to grow old or even die simply because I was making time pass for everyone by playing the game… I can see how it’d be confusing and annoying. A checkbox somewhere for ‘age everyone else’ at something like 1/2 the normal rate (and make them generate kids too) would be nice.

I find the whole idea of using “Fountain of Youth” type stuff in a life sim to be a bit of a cop-out, so I haven’t tried the elixir thing. (I’m having trouble installing it on my laptop at the moment).

This doesn’t really take away much from the game though. It’s a great sequel to one of my favorite games ever. The sense of discovery isn’t quite the same as it was in the original, but there is a lot of fun stuff going on here.


I really enjoyed the first 10 hours I played. I mean REALLY enjoyed, nirvana isn’t that far off of a description. About that time I started to get really bored with it though, it just seemed like a grind. Even though I had pretty much the best appliances, a maid, a nanny, a live in caretaker and only one child and a wife I never had enough time to socialize if I didn’t want the kid to be anything other than a big success. Realistic? Probably. Fun? Not for me anyways.

That’s the point I start messing around with different possibilities. Like a total loser family who’re all sloppy (maybe one clean freak to mix things up) and live like pigs. Earnestly searching the 'net for Saddam and GW sims, nothing on EA’s own content downloader for some reason. :P I find the whole social aspect seems much richer when you’re socialising with families you’ve personally nurtured/tortured, rather than the pre-generated ones.

Saddam is pretty easy to make, GW may take some time, though.

Unfortunately, I suck hard with Bodyshop, and will have to rely on others for humorous Sims.

Gaming Nirvana, huh?

no shotguns tho, dammit

more’s the pity

post an eddie vedder sim pic and I promise your suffering will be legendary, even in hell


Anybody know how to get your joined significant other irritated enough to allow for a divorce? I’ve tried arguing, malevolently sucking their energy with that vacuum thing, and flagrantly cheating on them with several people with them watching and it’s just taking absolutely forever.

Plus I was really hoping for an amicable divorce, they really just grew apart. What with the sexy maid and all. And who was the perverse individual who made it so every time your Sim has an aspiration involving one of their lovers, the jackpot reels want to invite the others over?

I’m disappointed that the engine has the same characteristics of Simcity 4 where everything’s almost running acceptably until you move to a really big lot and then you require a graphics card from the future to run it. Oh, and if you think it would look pretty to line the walls of the open plaza in the Pleasantville mansion with mirrors, I’d suggest turning off reflections. It was a very pretty slideshow though :)

how does one get the anti-aging elxir?

To get the Elixir of Life, have your Sim or Sims complete a lot of Aspirations. You need about 35,000+ reward points to get it.

In case some of you haven’t been through it, be careful not to use a telescope (unless it’s vital to the career I guess) during the day as Mortimer Goth will come over and start shoving you around because you watched Rear Window too many times.

I imagine divorce is like marriage, you have to choose it. You’ll note that you can have either Sim look at the paper or on the computer and there’s an option to find a new home. I’m guessing, because I haven’t tried it, that this might lead to divorce?

Get your long term relationship low enough and “Break Up” will be an interaction option. You can also just find your own house, which essentially calls the cab and puts the sim in question back in the neighborhood sim bin.

I’m disappointed that they didn’t remedy my two biggest complaints with the first one.

1 - I think there should be a slider to slow down (or speed up) the rate at which time passes. Think of it as a difficulty level. I had a hard time with taking forty minutes or whatever to have a quick breakfast. I just played through a round where my poor Sim was showering and peeing on alternate days. That ain’t right. I’d have much more fun personally (and if you don’t agree, hey, you wouldn’t have to use the slider) if I could set the passage of time to what I feel is a more reasonable and enjoyable (for me) pace.

2 - I’m absolutely astonished that there isn’t a pure sandbox mode. So many of my friends just want to build a dream home and put their Sim selves in it. It’s easy to use the cheats to get yourself a few hundred thousand bucks in the bank, but why not just have a checkbox when you build a house to have it as market value or free? Or better yet, another slider to set the percentage of market value? Again - user-customizable difficulty. I say embrace all the many ways in which gamers are going to play your game, and anticipate it from the outset.

Still, aside from some weird hanging and stuttering with the frame rate (on a 3.2GHz, 1GB, x800 Pro system, no less) it’s every bit as charming as its predecessor and I know I’ll have a lot of fun with it.

And I’m sure that I read in a preview many moons ago that there would be an option to turn aging off if that wasn’t your bag? I don’t want to watch my Sim me succumb to the rigors of old age. Is that not the case?

And I wish the Sim creation part actually worked. I can select outfits OR shirts OR pants but not mix and match. That seems odd.