The Sims 2 University Preview - Overview

The first expansion pack for The Sims 2 will send out everyone's favorite little computer people in search of higher education. Get the details here.


There isn't much more to say about Maxis's 2004 sequel The Sims 2. It went right back to the successful formula that made the first game a smash hit: creating a family of "sims"--autonomous characters living in the suburbs that would get married, hold down jobs, and get into all kinds of random trouble. The original game was followed up by a series of expansion packs, and now the sequel will get its very first addition in the form of The Sims 2 University. As the name suggests, the new expansion will let you bring your little computer people out of their homes and into the college life.

Starting a band--an integral part of college life...?
Starting a band--an integral part of college life...?

To accomplish this, University will add several all-new features, like a brand-new age group in a sim's life: young adulthood. The Sims 2 already let you create characters that were infants, small children, teenagers, and adults, but the expansion's new age group will fit between those awkward teenage years and the responsibilities of adulthood and will give those fresh-faced young sims the option to leave the nest for college (with their protective parents desperately clinging to them as they head out the door). The expansion will also let you merge two different households together, which should let those high school sweethearts go steady in college and get hitched, or let prospective filmmakers use The Sims 2's in-game movie option to tell their own heartwarming story of two families coming together as one (even if the mother is a lovely lady who is bringing up three very lovely girls). There will also be new features that will let the movie-making tool create actual music videos. Finally, the expansion will even add a "lifetime want" feature in addition to the original game's aspiration system (which let you perform certain tasks to make your sims happy and prevent them from aging). Accomplishing this difficult task will turn your sims' aspiration meters "platinum" (fully filled) for the rest of their natural lives, making them completely immune to the effects of aging.

The expansion will also add all-new outdoor "lot" areas in the form of an actual college campus, where you can find such popular college stopovers as cafes, libraries, and dormitories, which is where all young sims without the benefit of a big, fat scholarship stay. The dorm will be the first area in any Sims game that will let your player-controlled sims live with computer-controlled sims (your housemates). After your college-bound sim "claims" his or her room, each of your housemates' other rooms will be walled off, so you won't actually be able to see what's going on inside them. But you will be able to see the big common room in each dorm, which will likely be home to parties you'll throw with some of the expansion's new household objects, such as the communal bubble blower (which originally appeared in the House Party expansion and still bears a striking resemblance to a hookah) and the juice keg (with which students in a festive mood can engage in "juice stands").

Being career-minded will actually be more important than ever in University, since studying different career disciplines can better prepare your young sim for college. In addition, once they've gotten their feet in the door, they'll be able to pursue one of 11 academic majors, which are new college-specific careers that will determine your sims' grades based on their study habits and their performance on regular exams (as well as on whether they're "connected" enough on campus to give their own academic careers a little extra push.) Doing well in college will actually help graduating sims get a head start in their adult professional life, whereas less-wealthy students may find themselves dropping out and moving back in with mom and dad. (See, that four-year degree really did mean a computer game, anyway.)

Regardless, University will add four new career paths specific to the college life, along with odd jobs you can pick up for money, such as starting a band or working in a coffee shop. Then again, if your sims are popular enough, they can use University's all-new "influence" ability (measured by a meter that fills up over time) to take a few shortcuts, like getting someone to do your homework for you or making sure your professor understands that you really want an "A" in this course. Deciding to explore Greek life by joining a fraternity or a sorority will give you the opportunity to explore a whole new network of friends and a whole new series of social gestures (like the sorority girls' pillow fight). Once you make it into the group you'll be given unlimited influence over your pledges and you'll be able to order them to do anything you want, no matter how humiliating.

Feed him Seymour. Is this kind of science project even legal?
Feed him Seymour. Is this kind of science project even legal?

Campus life involves studying, partying, and going to class, which causes your young sim to disappear off the lot, much like going to a regular job would--except that in this case, time doesn't get paused while you're at class; the clock is still running from day to night. Unless you're a big sim on campus and have enough influence to coast through college, you'll end up studying hard to make the grade. However, if you are incredibly popular, you may end up hanging out with the school's secret society--a cultural elite group known only for their black blazer jackets. These upper-crust classmates of yours will let you access the school's computer files to alter your grades, shoot pool at their swanky clubhouse, or cultivate top-secret science projects, like a gigantic half-cow, half-Venus flytrap plant that devours college students but produces life-giving milk (which seems to give new meaning to the value of friendship).

The Sims 2 University has been in development for some time and already looks very promising. The expansion is scheduled for release this spring.

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