The Sims 2 Nightlife Updated Impressions - Bowling Night, Karaoke Night, Creatures of the Night

Nightlife will introduce fast cars, bowling, karaoke, dating, and vampires to the zany world of The Sims. We take an updated look.

We recently took an updated look at Nightlife, the next expansion pack for Maxis' highly popular "little people simulator," The Sims 2. The version of the game we saw had an almost-complete version of SimCity's snazzy downtown area. In the game, you'll be able to toggle between day and night instantaneously to have either a day on the town or a night on the town. Nightlife's new downtown areas will attempt to provide two very different experiences--the experience of going out on a date and the experience of going on a group excursion. We watched both in action.

A group of sims was called up to play at the neighborhood bowling alley. Each was wearing a blue bowling shirt, and each had a blue "plum bob" (the diamond-shaped icon that appears over every character's head in The Sims) to indicate they were in a group, rather than a green plum bob for sims on their own. When in a group, you'll also have a "group fun" meter added to the upper-right corner of your screen that resembles an old mercury-filled thermostat. It starts at the bottom for excursions that are no fun and goes up to "OK" all the way to "rockin'." You'll also generally have a time limit on specific group activities to make sure your group has a rockin' good time--if you fail, you may end up alienating your buddies, but if you succeed, you may be able to make friends much more quickly. Unfortunately, group activities can be spoiled by sims who act like jerks, as we saw--one of the sims in our group wasn't focusing on the bowling match and was eventually cut loose to wander off to the karaoke machine.

We also saw how group excursions can turn into individual dates as our estranged bowling teammate surveyed the cafeteria and made a beeline for the most copacetic lady in the room. All sims in Nightlife will have two different "turn-ons" (such as makeup or perfume) and a single "turn-off." Our erstwhile bowler found himself attracted to a young lady who, aside from her green skin, hunched posture, and tendency to make loud hissing noises, seemed like quite a catch. (Except that this date had a catch--the lady was a vampire.) Asking the bowling-alley beauty out on a date brought up the date meter (which resembles the group fun meter). Interestingly, the date meter also lets your sim see the aspirations, wants, and fears of the sim he or she is dating--such as the desire to hug, kiss, or drink blood. By choosing the right social choices, whether they be chatting, hugging, or smooching, sims will be able to increase their date meter, but they may end up with a decreased date meter if a certain jealous bowling partner keeps breaking up your date. Interestingly, sims that develop enough hatred for each other may become rivals--a new feature that lets sims become the opposite of friends. Rivals may follow each other around and try to ruin each other's day (or date).

And while The Sims 2 introduced aliens, and The Sims 2 University introduced zombies, Nightlife will introduce the aforementioned vampires, which can move exceptionally fast by turning into bats or "stalking" other sims, though they must retire every night to coffins. Mischievous sims can rib their vampire buddies by constantly peeking into their coffins. Malicious sims can try to destroy their vampire buddies by exposing them to sunlight, which may end up being fatal. Fortunately, vampirism will be curable by visiting the local village gypsy and purchasing a charm.

In addition to the dating, group excursions, and the whole Nosferatu thing, Nightlife will add a huge new set of items and objects that can be interacted with, including jukeboxes and photo booths (which you can use to either snap group photos or sneak in a quick session of "woohoo," The Sims' version of fooling around). The expansion should have plenty to offer Sims fans when it's released later this year.

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