The Sims 2 Body Shop on the way

Maxis will release a tool that will let you design characters for The Sims 2 before the game ships later this year. Exclusive screenshots inside.

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Maxis has announced that it will release its Body Shop application for The Sims 2 in May, in advance of the actual game. The stand-alone application will let players create customized appearances for "sim" characters. Players can change their characters' hairstyles and color, and they can create custom faces for their characters by adjusting facial features like nose length, eyebrow thickness, and chin shape. The tool will also let players modify body textures and even add patterns to clothing, provided that players have access to a standard image-editing program, like Microsoft Paint or Adobe Photoshop. Though the tool focuses on creating a custom appearance for a character, it will not let you customize your characters' personalities or family lines; the "create-a-sim" part of the final game will. However, all characters designed with the tool can be exported into a file that can be traded with other players via e-mail or posting on the Web.

The Sims 2 will be the sequel to Maxis' extremely successful "life-simulator" game The Sims. The sequel, like the original game, will let players create and control the lives of computerized people, called "sims," as they work, go to school, and develop relationships with their family members and neighbors. However, the sequel will feature all-new options to create customized sims, including the ability to further customize your sims' appearances, marry them off, have them become proud parents, and eventually grow old and die. The game is scheduled for release later this year.

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