The Sims 2 Nightlife is the second expansion pack for EA and Maxis' monster franchise, The Sims 2, and it's likely going to be a very popular one with the fans. While the first expansion, University, focused on college life and young adult sims, Nightlife is all about letting your sims go out on the town for a good time. We've gotten our hands on a nearly complete version of Nightlife and unleashed our sims on the new downtown areas to see what the deal is with this expansion. And while there are certainly a lot of similarities to the popular Hot Date expansion to the original The Sims, Nightlife also has plenty of new features to call its own.
Right off the bat, there is a lot of content packed into Nightlife, and it simply feels bigger than the University expansion, or maybe that's because instead of dividing all the new locales into three distinctly different areas, like University did, Nightlife comes with an uber-downtown with 31 different premade community lots that you can explore. You can use this downtown with each of the three preexisting towns that ship with The Sims 2, or with your own custom neighborhood. (The towns won't share the same downtown, but they'll create their own downtown using the same template.) And, of course, you can also create your own downtown, if you wish.
The downtown that ships with the expansion features plenty of variety, and there should be something that will appeal to all sorts of sims. There are clubs, such as the Crypt O' Night Club and the N3rD Pad, restaurants like Oresha Family Dining and Red's Famous '50s Diner, spas, parks, an art museum, a high-end grocery, bars, shops, and more. And, yes, these places are also open during the day, as well, so you're not limited to going to them only at night. In addition to the new building options, there are also a slew of new items to play with, including a spin machine (called the Electro Dance Sphere) that your sim can strap into and ride, as well as fancy new dance lights, a poker table, a photo booth, and more.
To populate these locales, there are also a bunch of new and interesting characters, including a couple of vampires, as well as a whole host of party guys and girls. And yes, the vampires are for real. Though we still haven't figured out yet how to turn our sim into a creature of the night, we have befriended two of the vampires in the game, and they need to hustle back to their caskets come daybreak or else they're in trouble. There's even a gypsy matchmaker who can set up your sim with a new dream date, but for a hefty 5,000 simoleans. She can also sell your sim a love potion that can make your sim irresistible, or a "cure" for any potential vampirism your sims are infected with, in case you discover that not being able to do anything for 12 hours every day isn't for you.
There are a slew of new social interactions as well, most of which are geared toward facilitating group interaction. Your sim can now "ask" other sims a slew of questions, including their turn-ons and turnoffs (more on this later), if they want to form a casual group, what their jobs are, how much money they make, and more. If you can get a sim to go on a date, then the date meter appears, which indicates how much time is left on the date, as well as how the date is going. Basically, if you tried to get your sim into private school in the original game, then you're a bit familiar with how this works. You've got to keep your companion sim interested and engaged, as well as make sure that his or her needs are met. If the date goes well, it will stretch out longer and longer, allowing you to make your move. If it doesn't, well…things can get sour pretty quickly in that situation.
Do the Smustle!Group interactions are a bit similar to the date meter, but on a larger scale. These are sort of like the wedding ceremonies in the original game, in which you select which sims to accompany you on the outing. There are actually two different forms of outings. A "just for fun" outing eliminates a time limit or a score, so you can just focus on, well, having fun. (And for a hilarious time, get a group together to do the "smustle" on the dance floor.) The "for an outing" outing has a time limit, as well as the pressure to rack up your outing score. The good news is that a successful outing, like a date, reaps different sorts of rewards.
The last major new additions to the expansion are cars, so now your sim can purchase and own his or her own set of wheels. This cuts down considerably on the waiting time to go anywhere, and since time is the most valuable commodity in The Sims 2 (especially now that sims age and die), it's a nice addition. There are five different sorts of cars, and you can tailor the model to your sim's lifestyle. Sporty sims can get the sleek sports car, while familial sims can get the minivan. To get a car, simply build a driveway on your lot, and you can then select a car, assuming you can afford it. The most basic model comes in at 950 simoleans, but the top-of-the-line sports car is a whopping 11,950 simoleons, instantly making it one of the most expensive items in the game. You can also build a garage, which is probably a good investment if you shell out a ton of cash for your car.
Sim creation has been beefed up considerably, and the good news is that for those who were disappointed with the limited number of new clothing options in University, there are dozens of new wardrobe options to select from in Nightlife, including a Dracula-like vampire suit. More importantly, though, is the new pleasure aspiration, which makes your sim crave a good time out on the town. You can also now select a couple of turn-ons for your sim, as well as a turnoff. The turn-on/off system is icon-based, so simply select what your sim will be attracted and repulsed by, such as things like facial hair, formal clothes, fatness, a specific type of hair color, and more. And if you want to upgrade your sim to the pleasure aspiration (or to any other aspiration for that matter), the new ReNuYu Senso Orb allows your sim to change his or her life aspiration.
Aside from the colorful new content, Nightlife doesn't really feature any graphical improvements to the original game, though the new dance light effects are a bit nifty. Our only concern at this point is that there is so much going on when you go downtown that it can have an effect on your frame rate, so you'll most likely need to tinker with your detail settings in order to smooth things out. Meanwhile, there are a slew of new musical tracks in Nightlife, which are strangely catchy in their own way, as they give a techno theme to the entire experience.
Nightlife promises to be a big expansion for The Sims 2, and we imagine that it will be far more popular than the University expansion, simply because it will have a much bigger impact on the original game. Much of University's content was limited to having a sim in college, and those college years literally sped by in a matter of days. But Nightlife's content fits in much better with the original gameplay, and it enhances it in so many ways. The new downtown area is downright huge, and there's a ton of new content to play with. Meanwhile, all the new customization options mean that you can create even more unique sims than ever before. In other words, Nightlife looks to be a blockbuster expansion for The Sims 2. And the good news is that the wait is almost over, because it's expected to ship next month.