The Sims 2 Impressions

We got an up-close look at the sequel to the best-selling PC game.

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At the recent Camp EA press event, we had an opportunity to get an up-close look at The Sims 2, and while the version on display was the same one that was shown at E3, we were able to take a more in-depth look at the upcoming sequel and its features. One of The Sims 2's most intriguing new features is the way that its computerized people (or "sims") will change over time--they'll not only age from babies to children to adults to senior citizens, but they'll also change in other physical, emotional, and mental ways.

We watched a demonstration with four teenage sims: Bernie, Marty, Jennifer, and Lisa. Bernie and Marty were male characters who had led very different lives. The suave, well-dressed Marty had access to many social interactions because of his extensive socializing with other characters, and he was also well dressed and in good physical shape. Bernie, on the other hand, was a pot-bellied, poorly dressed teen wearing a filthy T-shirt and jeans, and while Marty chatted up the ladies, Bernie was content to hang around the recently delivered pizzas and make a pig of himself. As we watched, Marty put the moves on the blonde Jennifer by flirting with her, which caused her to swoon and quickly develop a crush on him, but Marty was then directed to go and flirt with Lisa, who was right across the room. Marty's charms worked just as well on Lisa as they had on Jennifer, but Jennifer actually witnessed Marty's cheating ways and broke down and wept. In The Sims 2, sims will actually be acutely aware of the events going on around them, and they'll react to and remember these events. We then watched as Bernie attempted to get Jennifer's attention, but while the debonair Marty had been able to use a "flirt" social to get the ladies' attention, the crass Bernie's only option was the "hit on" social--a far less graceful way to break the ice that betrayed Bernie's poor social skills. Jennifer turned him away, of course.

We then watched as the four teens moved out to the patio to the hot tub, and got a chance to look at their house from afar. The Sims 2 will let you build much larger and more-detailed houses than the original game--houses with curved architecture and three or four stories, if you prefer. The four teenagers we saw preferred to jump into the hot tub, and Marty and Lisa, who had by now fallen in love, held each other close, gazed into each other's eyes, and then proceeded to get intimate by cuddling and then "playing" underwater in the hot tub. In social situations in The Sims 2, sims will progressively unlock more in-depth social activities the longer they interact with each other, so that sims who are dating may begin by simply flirting with each other, but may eventually end up performing steamy synchronized swimming parodies in a hot tub, as Marty and Lisa did. We also watched Bernie make another sorry attempt at getting Jennifer's attention, but since Bernie lacked Marty's social skills and any kind of rapport with Jennifer, the best he could do was use a "splash" social, which caused him to playfully but roughly hurl a wave of water in Jennifer's face--something she didn't especially care for.

The disgruntled Jennifer and Bernie were both directed to return indoors, and Bernie was instructed to use the exercise machine. After a sped-up demonstration of the wonders of the home gym, we watched as Bernie stood up from the exercise machine having lost all his excess weight--physical activity, or lack thereof, can change your sims' appearance, as well as their appeal to the opposite sex, as we saw: The rather superficial Jennifer took a much-improved view of the slimmer, trimmer Bernie. But sims won't just experience permanent changes physically. Apparently, your sims will also have memories that will affect their behavior, especially when those memories date back to their childhoods. If child sims burn themselves in the kitchen while fooling around with the oven, the trauma might affect them to the extent that, as adults, they may avoid going into their kitchens altogether.

We were also able to get a closer look at The Sims 2's face designing tool, which will let you customize your sims' faces in great detail by choosing eye size and color; hair style and hair color; nose size, width, and length; and plenty of other minute details that should help you create whichever sim you like, even if they happen to resemble real-world people, such as megastar Laurence "Mr. T" Tero, whose likeness was included as one of the examples. We also saw that The Sims 2 will feature at least one bizarre-looking face type: that of a green-skinned, bug-eyed alien. But regardless of whether your sims are black, brown, white, or from Mars, they'll pass on their appearance traits when they have kids--in fact, the face designing tool will let you design two prospective parents and then actually see how their children might look, not unlike the very popular gag that several late-night talk shows run with manipulated photos of famous celebrities.

The Sims 2 is scheduled for release sometime next year. We'll have more on this promising sequel soon.

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