Not your regular life-sim game, but if you like micromanagement, building the Playboy empire might be right for you.

User Rating: 8.6 | Playboy: The Mansion XBOX
Being a huge fan of The Sims and other micromanagement games of the kind (Sim City, Theme Park, Theme Hospital and so on) and after looking at The Urbz with disappointment, I jumped right in on the idea of trying out Playboy: The Mansion. I'm happy to report that it didn't let me down. It combines the simulation, role-playing and tycoon type of games in just one title, with a good dose of sexy fun.

The objective is the game is simple: while playing a virtual Hugh Hefner, you have to build your mansion and your empire, become rich and famous and publish the magazine that will raise you to stardom.

Simple, but not quite! The life of a playboy doesn't come easy (well, at least not for the common mortal) and although you start with a comfortable home and a hefty sum in your bank account, you'll still have to work for your fame. Of course, this is not your regular "work", hell knows we all would like to throw parties for a living!

Meet and greet! Everything is based on connections. The people you know are the ones writing the articles that will show up on your magazine (for a fee, of course) and the better you get along with them, the less they can refuse your request for an interview or an essay.

In order to get these celebrities to come to your comfortable mansion, you have to throw parties and invite the ones you want to show up, along with a journalist and a photographer so you can have interviews and photo shoots. You can invite them yourself, or you can have your friendly assistant Jenny pick and choose the guests.

The two things that keep guests happy are Playmates and Bunnies, and what would be the mansion without these two assets? Like in the Sims, your guests all have mood bars. Paying attention to these bars will ensure your relationship with a character goes up. You can start a conversation with three different themes: romance, business or casual. Business is a formal conversation and will allow you to discuss finances, strike deals and offer contracts. Romantic conversation will lead to kissing, making out and ultimately, sex. Casual is your friendly chat, and will open up to sub-menus like share secret and joke around. Ultimately, building a solid casual relationship will let you invite people to your inner circle, which means you can give them a call and invite them over, or they can just drop by whenever.

There are six parts needed to publish a magazine: article, essay, interview, pictorial, cover and centerfold.

Your staff must include at all times a journalist, a photographer and a playmate if you want to get the magazine content done. Journalists require a desk to work and will write articles if you ask them to. They also conduct interviews once a celebrity has agreed to one. Photographers shoot pictorials no request (for a location fee) as well as covers and centerfolds once the model has agreed to them.

Playmates will appear on centerfolds only once, and some of them later on may even do a cover for you. They will also be available for interviews and essays. Keep in mind that you can't have more than one piece of content from the same person at any given time.

There are a number of subjects that you can pick for your staff to work on: sports, humor, tv and movies, politics, sexuality, etc. Depending on their intellect, the content will be better or worse. In the case of a celebrity writing a piece of content, always ask for a subject related to the person's profession. Ask a rock star to write about music and you'll have a good essay, ask a sports star to write about humor and you'll probably have a failure.

Content quality is very important and it means more sales, so once you feel you can afford better staff, go ahead and replace them. You can also delete low quality content from the list if you're not happy with it.

Photo shoots are very basic. You need a photographer, a willing model and a background. You can build a room specifically for this purpose, or you can just use your mansion and surroundings. Once your model has agreed to pose (note that "chaste" girls can't be asked) and you have placed her, you can choose her clothes and their colors, plus a bunch of other little details like hat, glasses, ring, bracelet, shoes, earrings and necklace. They also seem to have a preference for the couch if they're placed in a room with one, so if you want different types of photos experiment with other scenarios.

Progressing in the game and completing missions will let you unlock new objects, outfits and areas (such as the pool and the grotto) as well as accumulate points. In case you're wondering what to do with all those points the answer is simple: you trade them for cheats (including a breast implant cheat) and real playmate photos (which you find in the Archive).

You can find this game available for PS2, Xbox and PC, but here's a little thing you should know, in case you have all three. The Xbox version will be having downloadable content in the future; the PS2 version has more missions; the PC version lets you add your own custom textures and music to the game.

Although this is a game that might appeal to Sims players, keep in mind that this is not a life simulation. You don't go to work, you don't change your baby, you don't clean the house. But you sure do have a ton of fun!

So grab your copy and experience the challenges and rewards of building the Playboy empire. You know you want to. And this is the closest you will ever get to it.

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