Playboy: The Mansion E3 2004 Impressions

We get another look at Arush's risqué sim-strategy game based on the legendary men's magazine.

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We were able to get an in-depth demonstration of Arush and Cyberlore's upcoming "lifestyle simulation" Playboy: The Mansion. The game will put you in the fabulous slippers of arguably the world's most admired and envied man, Hugh Hefner. As Hef, your job is to take Playboy from the ground up and build up your fame and your magazine's circulation and expand your mansion into the world's greatest party spot.

Playboy: The Mansion will include two different game modes. The campaign is a 12-mission endeavor that will roughly follow the historical progress of the Playboy brand. You'll build up Playboy the way Hugh Hefner did throughout the past 50 years. The empire mode is more free-form and will allow you to set your own goals and go at your own pace. In this version, you'll have more freedom to pursue social goals and set up the Playboy Mansion as you see fit.

On the surface, Playboy resembles other life simulations, such as The Sims. You'll see 3D characters walking around a 3D house--the game includes six different areas of the mansion: the pool area, the upstairs, the downstairs, the lawn, the driveway, and the clubhouse. At the outset you'll start with just yourself and a couple of assistants, including photographers, bunnies, and editors. You can have the characters interact with one another (though you only have direct control over Hef), but the general aim is to create enough content to publish a magazine. The content can include photo layouts, articles, and interviews. You'll have access to demographic information that shows what topics your readers are interested in. If it's architecture, you can send a photographer out on assignment to snap pictures of interesting buildings. If it's sports, you can have an editor write an article about a famous athlete. If it's music, you can invite a famous musician over for an interview.

Of course, getting all this content is where the bunnies and models in your employ can help you. As you publish magazines, and gain fame and fortune, you can throw more and more lavish parties at your mansion and invite more famous celebrities over. The more successful you are at building fame, throwing a good party, and building relationships with celebrities, the easier it will be to ask these celebs for interviews. Each character in the game has needs and motives, which can include entertainment, drinking, or carousing. Your ability to fulfill those needs as the world's most fabulous host will determine your success in the game.

Aside from the "G-rated" content in the magazine, you'll also be responsible for including a photo layout of one of your models. In Playboy: The Mansion, you can ask one of the models in your employ to be photographed as the Playmate of the Month. From here, you can set up a camera in any part of your house. The game will switch into a first-person mode, and your model will begin posing. You will be able to do some coaching of the model, such as asking her to lie on a nearby couch or bed or to take off her top, all while you snap photos from the camera. You can then choose the shots that will be included in the monthly magazine.

Yes, Playboy: The Mansion will include topless nudity, as well as sex. Hef, the bunnies, and any of your guests can and will engage in sexual intercourse just about everywhere throughout the mansion. Cyberlore's plan is that the manner in which this will be depicted will match what is shown in R-rated movies; the intention is to push the sexual envelope of the M rating as far as it will go for this game. Interestingly enough, Arush and Cyberlore noted that they have discussed the matter not only with Playboy (who is apparently the driving force for the inclusion of as much sexuality as possible), but with Microsoft and Sony, who are purportedly supportive of the plan. It is of course unclear how much sexuality the final game will include, but the developers are in constant talks with the ESRB to make sure the game retains the Playboy theme while sliding in under the ceiling of the M rating.

Several real-life celebrities will be included in Playboy: The Mansion, to go along with "fake" celebs who will be needed to fill out the game. Though more are being added to the list all the time, the current roster of real celebrities includes Jose Canseco, the band Sum41, Willa Ford, Melissa Joan Hart, and Xzibit. If you don't see what you like, you can create your own characters or change the name of existing characters to add your own favorite stars. Currently Playboy: The Mansion is scheduled to ship in November for the Xbox, PlayStation 2, and PC platforms.

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