The Sims PS2 impressions

We go hands-on with the PlayStation 2 version of the best-selling computer game of all time.

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We were fortunate enough to be able to spend some time with the final version of the PS2 version of The Sims, which is scheduled for release soon. Like the PC game, the PS2 version of The Sims is all about little computer people called "sims" who lead virtual lives, have virtual friendships, and occasionally need to take virtual bathroom breaks.

From what we've seen so far, the PS2 version of the game makes good use of the PS2 format, especially the controller. In the original PC game, you could (and would often have to) access various menus to get information on your sim--this is because in both games, it's important to monitor your sims' current status, their needs to eat, sleep, have fun, and use the restroom (also known as "motives"), their skills, and their relationships. Rather than having you click through different menus with a mouse to reveal vital information, The Sims for the PS2 makes good use of both analog sticks and the D pad on the PS2 controller. The D pad is used to pull up your sims' statistics and needs--for instance, you can press up on the D pad to show their hunger, energy, and bladder levels--while the analog sticks are used to control the camera. Since you'll often want to take care of several tasks at once, such as eating, then going to the bathroom, then washing up afterward, The Sims PS2 lets you queue up actions, just like the PC game, and cancel upcoming actions by pressing the triangle button. Of course, watching your sim stand there and eat isn't terribly exciting, so just like the PC game, the PS2 game lets you speed up time, which you can do quickly and easily by pressing and holding the R1 button on your controller.

The PS2 version of The Sims looks a lot different from the PC version, especially since it has all-new character models and fully 3D houses and objects. The game also has a free-zooming camera (as opposed to the three fixed zoom levels that are available in the PC version) that can get closer to your sims--they're much larger when you're fully zoomed in. They're also more detailed, because the PS2 game gives you plenty of options to customize your characters' appearance, including not only different heads and torsos, but also different hair colors and hairstyles, different eye colors, and even different shoes.

As you should know from reading our previews, the gameplay of the PS2 version of The Sims differs considerably from the PC version, since the PS2 game has a goal-oriented structure. You start off as an unemployed bum living at home with your mother, and you begin with such unchallenging goals as borrowing a certain amount of money from mom--you can grease the wheels a bit by chatting with and complimenting your mother, but what she really wants is for you to fix her broken TV. Much like in the original PC game, The Sims provides pop-up windows with useful tips on what you should do next--for instance, you start out with no skills, but in order to fix the TV, you'll need to visit the bookcase and study mechanical skills until you gain a point or two. Skill advancement seems much quicker in The Sims PS2 than it is in the original game. In addition, your sims' motives don't seem to deplete quite as quickly as they do in the original PC game, which affords you a bit more time to explore and interact with your environments and your fellow sims. However, when your sims are running low on a certain motive, they'll let you know by shouting and waving at you, just like in the PC game.

The Sims PS2 looks different, but it certainly seems to remain very true to the original theme of the PC game. The game will be released next week, and we'll have a full review then.

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