The Sims 2: Castaway Hands-On

We got lost in EA's upcoming survival simulation.

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We just got another glimpse at EA's upcoming island adventure, The Sims 2: Castaway, for the Wii and the PS2, which seems to be coming along well. Both the Wii and PS2 versions will be nearly identical, except that the Wii version will provide streamlined controls for easier use. However, that added ease only applies to menu navigation, so it's not as if the Wii version exists on its own island of awesomeness; both it and the PS2 version share nearly everything in common.

Thus, that is to say, a lot. The premise is that you and a few others wash up on an island, where you must do everything you can to survive. In the beginning, this means gathering food. You'll forage everywhere, looting bushes for berries, trees for fruit, and shoals for fish. You'll even search under rocks for bugs and dive for clams. From there, you'll move on to making clothes, cooking food, building huts, and fending off pesky pigs.

One of the first things we noticed was that our female character's clothes were in tatters. Her T-shirt was as substantial as a rumor and her pants were so short they were half belt. The presenter informed us that clothes degrade, so you have to make new ones, otherwise your character will get really uncomfortable and unhappy. A nearby villager was wearing pants made from banana skins. Another character had a surprisingly nice cotton shirt that he'd made from harvesting cotton on the island. While your fashion choices will be limited at first, you'll have some interesting accoutrement options later in the game.

But if our girl was feeling insecure about her wasted clothes, she was feeling twice as hungry. In fact, she was so famished, she was about to die, so we headed to the water for some spear fishing. This was a simple game where we stood near a pool of fish, held our spear aloft, and waited for one to jump. When it did, we struck and wound up with a nice, fat tropical fish that we cooked then ate.

From there, we headed off to our village, where we found a human-looking figure built from sand and a beach ball, the Sims 2 version of Wilson from Tom Hanks' Castaway. Our girl had a short conversation with the dummy, told it a joke, kissed it a little, and then decided to build a house. At this point, we only had materials for a relatively flimsy shelter but were told that as we gained access to iron ore and glass, we'd be able to make sturdier dwellings to stand up to the occasional tropical storms.

As she began building, a pig emerged from the forest and started eating our building materials! We tried to shoo it away, but the pig only became agitated. The presenter feared the pig would eat our girl instead, so he made her hide inside another shack until the porcine threat passed. Evidently, pigs are the main hazard on the island, and it's very dangerous to deal with them. By arming your villagers with spears, they stand a better chance of survival, but a pig may still take them out. But that's OK because death isn't necessarily permanent as long as a remaining villager plucks the daisy from the deceased's grave and makes a resurrection potion with it. This isn't the most realistic game, but would you really want to be stranded on a deserted island?

While The Sims 2: Castaway won't delve into the heart of darkness or get remotely Lord of the Flies, it should be a fun game for those of you who enjoy nonviolent entertainment with lots of collecting and crafting. The PSP version should be mostly identical to the PS2 version, although EA still isn't sure exactly when it will ship. Both the PS2 and Wii versions will ship out this October 22, so stay tuned for our reviews.

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