E3 '07: The Sims 2 Castaway Impressions

EA unveils its newest The Sims game, and in a big departure from anything else in the series, it involves a shipwreck, monkey butlers, and sand buddies.

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The Sims 2: Castaway
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Remember the Tom Hanks movie Cast Away, where he plays a guy stranded on a tropical island with only a volleyball for a friend? The Sims 2 Castaway isn't based or tied in any way to that movie, but it could be the closest answer that gaming has for it. You'll be trapped on a tropical island, but being a Sims game, you'll also have plenty of things that you can do.

Like any Sims game, you can create your own unique sim. In fact, you'll create a group of them and watch as they board a ship and go out on the ocean, only to have the ship sink and each of them wash ashore on different islands that make up an archipelago. You'll then control one sim as you have a couple of choices. You can try to figure out how to survive and get off the island, or you can figure out a way to thrive and turn the place into a tropical paradise home.

Click to enlarge!
Click to enlarge!

Survival is handled a number of ways. Obviously, you need to eat, so that means trying to figure out how to grow, gather, or catch food. There are various plants that you can eat, or you can figure out how to grow them, or you can try to catch your meals. For instance, if you figure out how to make a spear, you can go spear fishing, and the more "advanced" the spear, the bigger the fish you capture, all the way to even a shark. The next problem is shelter and clothing. You need to figure out how to gather and use material to build a house, and eventually furniture, as well as material to weave new clothes, as the ones you washed ashore in gradually fall apart.

For friendship, you have a number of routes. You can create a "sand buddy," which is basically like a sandman that you can talk to (sort of like how Hanks' character adopted a volleyball and named it Wilson). One of the dangers there is that the island's chimps might steal your buddy's head. Oh, those mischievous chimps. Then again, you can make friends with the chimps and train them to help you with everyday tasks. So yes, that's right, there are chimp butlers in this game. The chimps are oh-so cute to watch, and they like to give hugs and be useful.

Once you have the everyday stuff figured out, there's going to be several islands of adventure. You'll spend a lot of time exploring the island and learning new things. You can pick clues to different quests, such as recovering the pieces of a pirate map and figuring out where the buried treasure is. You'll want to learn how to build a raft so you can navigate to other islands, and more.

Just by the sheer nature of its premise, Castaway is a huge departure from the humdrum suburban life seen in almost every Sims game to date. You don't have worry about getting a job, paying or the bills, or trying to get a promotion at work. Instead, Castaway strips away those familiar trappings and replaces it with something that's intriguing and promising. This looks like a really fun challenge for fans of The Sims who want something more. The game will come out for the Wii, PlayStation Portable, DS, and PS2, though we saw the Wii version running, and it made extensive use of the Wii's motion controls. The Sims 2 Castaway is scheduled to ship in September.

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