Earlier this week Electronic Arts announced that reworked versions of its popular life-simulation PC game, The Sims 2, are currently in development for all current-generation consoles, as well as for the PSP, the Nintendo DS, the Game Boy Advance, and mobile phones. Because each of the new versions of The Sims 2 is being designed and developed to take advantage of its respective platform's unique features, many of them will have far less in common with each other than you might expect.
The Nintendo DS and GBA versions of The Sims 2 that we reported on earlier this week, for example, are set exclusively in the Strangetown neighborhood, where you'll assume the roles of a hotel manager and a TV star, respectively. The PlayStation 2, Xbox, and GameCube versions of the game, on the other hand, will offer an experience that's much closer to the original PC game than their handheld counterparts. There will be plenty of new content on the consoles to pique the interest of those of you who have already played the PC game, though, and each of the three console games will boast its own unique features.
The PSP version of The Sims 2 will offer yet another completely different experience based on the PC game, and in this one you will take direct control of a sim who gets stranded in Strangetown when his (or her) car breaks down. Your first goal in the PSP game will be to use your social skills on the unhelpful garage owner, Oscar, and convince him to repair your car. He'll suggest that you kill some time in the nearby curio shop rather than watching him work, and it's in that shop that a set of tarot cards will be used to determine your sim's goals and aspirations. You'll be able to pick and choose the goals and aspirations if you prefer, of course, but where's the fun in that?
While you're in the curio store, Bella Goth (who mysteriously disappeared in the PC game) arrives and tells you that she was abducted by aliens. Sympathizing with your own predicament (which gets worse when Oscar vanishes with your car), she offers you a place to stay for as long as you're in town and presents you with a key to her home. The four-bedroom house comes complete with its own maid, but it has become run-down in Bella's absence and is in dire need of a makeover. At this point, the PSP game will enter familiar Sims territory as you shop for new items with which to redecorate the house and, if you'd rather not live alone, look for some suitable roommates.
To improve your all-important social standing in the community you'll have to interact with non-player characters that you meet. The easiest way to do this might be to invite them to a party. But once you get a map you'll also be able to leave your immediate area and explore at least five different neighborhoods. The characters you encounter on your travels will include both new faces and recognizable favorites from the PC original, and you'll be able to expand upon many of their storylines from that game.
Taking advantage of the PSP hardware's sound capabilities, The Sims 2 will feature a new soundtrack and the same simlish language that characters use to communicate with each other in the PC games. The Sims 2 will also take advantage of the PSP's wireless connectivity functionality, allowing you to trade items that you've collected with other players, and interact with them in "battle socials" where you compete for attention and, ultimately, new perks and points. If you decide that you particularly like one of your friend's sims, you'll have the option to import that sim into your game so that you can spend more time with and perhaps even end up dating him or her.
The PSP version of The Sims 2 is currently scheduled for release this fall. We'll bring you more information on the game as soon as it becomes available.