With the wild popularity of The Sims franchise, it was only a matter of time before the series made it onto mobile phones, which are becoming increasingly more powerful and sophisticated enough to handle a game like The Sims 2. At first glance, The Sims 2 mobile seems like a fabulous translation of the life simulation that has won over so many fans on the PC and other platforms. However, the longer you spend with it, the more the façade wears thin, revealing a game that's still enjoyable in some respects, but one that leaves out a lot of the quirky nuances that made it so popular in the first place.
The first thing you'll do upon entering the game is create your character. In this stand-alone version of The Sims 2 mobile, your options are woefully limited. You can only choose your gender, your astrological sign, and your appearance from just a small handful of already created characters, a far cry from the vast customization options on the PC. What's even worse is that you can't even type in a name of your choice for your character. Instead, you have to go with one of the dozen or so names for each gender that is provided.
Everything should feel familiar to longtime fans of the series once you're in the game. You start in a small house consisting of a bedroom, a kitchen, and a bathroom, with only the barest set of amenities. You'll need to use these items to attend to six basic life needs such as hunger, rest, bladder, hygiene, social, and fun. So, if you're hungry, you can interact with the refrigerator to make yourself a snack. Some of these items also increase your skill level in five basic categories, including cooking, charisma, body, logic, and creativity. So if you choose to satisfy your hunger need by cooking on the stove instead of grabbing something out of the fridge, you'd not only satisfy your hunger need, but also gain skill in cooking. The essence of gameplay in The Sims 2 mobile, as in all the other Sims games, is to improve your character's attributes, wealth, and relationships while simultaneously satisfying all your needs in the most efficient manner possible. Juggling all those demands in a limited amount of time while holding down a job is where the challenge lies.
Overall, the game looks pretty good, and it's very similar in a lot of ways to The Sims games on the PC. You're given a cutaway view of the characters moving about the house, as though you were looking into a doll's house. The objects exhibit a good amount of detail as well, and you'll see some basic animation that conveys whatever you're doing, whether it's taking a shower or cooking. The game falls flat in the graphics department with its character interaction. Initiating conversation with someone takes you out of the game screen and to a simple text menu, where you see both characters on either side of the screen. You select the topic you want to talk about, or the interaction, and the result is displayed as pluses, minuses, or an ellipsis, depending on how the other person reacted. It doesn't matter if you're gossiping, hugging, kissing, or even "sleeping over," which is the euphemism the game uses for having sex. The interactions are all presented the same way in this bland-looking text menu. The Sims also don't speak that cute simlish that they do in all the other versions of The Sims. While full speech is not a feature in any mobile game, the absence of simlish and the characteristic animations of human interaction take away a lot of what made The Sims franchise so great to begin with. The sound is limited to musical beeps and buzzes related to completing tasks. You can also turn on a stereo for some other music that sounds like a MIDI file.
You'll also notice that your character won't really act autonomously, ever. If you want your character to do anything, you have to direct him or her to an object or person. Other characters in the game, who cannot be controlled by you, don't do much of anything either, even if you've invited them over or had them move in with you. They kind of stand around like robots and wait for you to do something, and occasionally they'll move to another room. And while you can build relationships with these robots, and even get married, they quite oddly don't exhibit any jealousy. In one game we played, we had our male character develop a romantic relationship with another male character and had them move in together. Over time, our character eventually got another female character to fall in love with him as well, creating a love triangle. We had our character kiss, sleep with, and propose to the girl in plain view of the live-in boyfriend, and there were no ill effects to either relationship.
In the end, the game boils down to you accruing wealth by moving up in your job, building expansions to your home (which isn't customizable either), buying more stuff, and otherwise satisfying the "wants" that the game throws at you as goals to direct the gameplay. While there's certainly some fun to be had in achieving all those goals and making your sim an efficient little citizen, the customization limitations of the stand-alone version of The Sims 2 mobile take away a lot of its appeal. There is a "connected" version to be released later, which will allow you to connect to the PC version of The Sims 2 and get more options. But even with more customization, the dearth of personality in The Sims 2 mobile wouldn't be alleviated, which ultimately leaves the game feeling hollow and lacking the humanity that made the franchise such a hit.