The Sims 2 Updated Impressions - E3 2004

We're on hand at E3 with an updated look at the sequel to one of the most popular computer games of all time.

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EA Games is on hand at this year's E3 with The Sims 2, the upcoming sequel to Maxis' incredibly popular "life simulator." Like the original game, you can create and control the lives of "sims"--little people with needs, wants, and emotions--though the sequel will have many expanded options, including the ability for sims to have children and grandchildren, to age, and to follow their dreams.

As we've referred to in our designer diary stories, The Sims 2 will feature a moviemaking tool that will let you capture movies of your sims' lives. We watched one movie chronicling the life of Don, an amorous sim with more girlfriends than you can shake a virtual stick at. Eventually, Don proposed to his lastest girlfriend, Sarah, got married, and settled down in a house with his young son Alex.

Click to enlarge.
Click to enlarge.

All sims have specific "aspirations," which are a set of dreams that you can pursue by accomplishing goals shown in an onscreen window, and specific "fears," which are a set of negative occurences that detract from their aspirations and overall happiness. Because Don was such an amorous sim, his wants included socializing with his family at his son's birthday party and giving his lovely wife a kiss, as well as striking up a conversation with Dina, one of his old flames who happened to be in attendance. The superficial Don had a set of fears that included being rejected and getting fat. His wife Sarah, on the other hand, had a "family" aspiration, so her wants included hugging her young son and seeing her sister Virginia get married. Her worst fear was being cheated on by her husband. All wants, when accomplished, will earn their respective sims a certain number of aspiration points that fill up a green meter on the interface. The more aspiration points your sims have, the happier and more confident they'll be--and the longer they'll eventually live. (Don was doing quite well, so he walked with a bit of a strut.)

Unfortunately, sims with different aspirations may find themselves in conflict. For instance, we watched the amorous Don sneak off to a side room to flirt with--then eventually use the "make out" social ability with--his old flame Dina. While this fulfilled Don's desires, it also got much more complicated when Virginia, Don's sister-in-law, walked in on the couple and then reported what she saw to Don's wife Sarah, who immediately burst into tears. Don left the room and attempted to reason with Sarah, who seemed placated, at least until Dina grabbed Don and began kissing him in front of everyone, causing Sarah to completely lose her mind (since her worst fears were realized). Then the gregarious sister-in-law, Virginia, leaped at the treacherous Dina and began a fistfight, which was indicated by a swirling cloud of white dust from which both sims periodically peeked out. According to senior producer Tim LeTourneau, conflicting aspirations among a family of sims can lead to awkward situations like these, which players may or may not wish to have. In addition, the want system will help direct gameplay by giving players desirable goals, but these aren't required in the least, and some goals may expire over time, which gives rise to others (so you don't need to try to make your sims happy, but you can if you wish).

Click to enlarge.
Click to enlarge.

As we saw, The Sims 2 will also have a number of new interface elements, including expanded buy and build modes that will let you quickly and easily duplicate items and objects with a new eyedropper tool that will let you copy-paste existing items to make neat, orderly rows (if you wish). In addition, your sims' ages will be tracked onscreen using an iconic interface. Apparently, they'll remain children for only a few weeks' worth of game time (the exact length of time is currently being tested and tweaked by the development team) so that adult sims can see their grandchildren grow into adults. A majority of sims will spend most of their lives as adults, then they'll become senior citizens, who will eventually pass away. However, if a sim has led a full, rich life and has started a family, he or she will be succeeded by generations of children and grandchildren.

The Sims 2 appears to be coming along extremely well, and its various gameplay elements now appear to be actual, plausible, workable features that should hopefully contribute greatly to the final game. The Sims 2 is scheduled for release later this year.

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