By now, you've probably heard about The Sims. It all started with a little idea of controlling the lives of autonomous characters called "sims," and it took off in a big way to become a best-selling game series on multiple platforms--and on the PC, the series became infamous for its many expansion packs. The Sims 2 Seasons is the latest one, and unlike the last few expansions, this one doesn't add a zillion ambitious new features that make the game more complicated. Instead, it adds seasonal weather, crop farming, and some new group activities that can actually make the challenging gameplay of Sims 2 a more relaxed pastime. For players looking for a slower-paced experience that doesn't require you to keep track of the ins and outs of an in-game business--or constantly watch a hyperactive pet--this is a good thing.
Like the name of the expansion suggests, the primary addition that Seasons brings is...seasons. Specifically, weather and in-game events that correspond to different yearly seasons; in winter, for instance, snow falls, water freezes, and your sims can make snowmen. Certain seasons are more conducive to certain types of behavior than others; for instance, sims tend to be more amorous in summer.
You can manually change the current season in your neighborhood whenever you like. The season changes are heralded by new graphical weather effects, such as stormy weather and falling snow, that look quite good and change the look of your sims' neighborhood all year round. Many of the new seasonal activities are actually very useful, since they can fulfill your sims' personal needs (or "motives") for both social interaction and fun, and a good snowball fight also helps them build relationships with one another. Since much of The Sims 2's gameplay revolves around taking care of your little computer people's various motives of eating, sleeping, and going to the potty, these new features should be appealing to anyone who has found the series' micromanagement aspect a bit frustrating.
The same can be said of Seasons' new group items and its new agrarian gameplay. Seasons lets your sims become farmers and plant crops in the field; well-tended and watered plants eventually bear fruit (or vegetables) that can be sold at market or converted into a variety of juice drinks that can supercharge your sims, fulfilling their hunger and energy needs as well as letting them create goofier formulas like love potions. The expansion also lets you turn any nearby bodies of water into fishing holes, and it has a variety of fish and bait that your sims can use--again, while standing around with other sims, chatting away and building relationships while they wait for a fish to bite. Once caught, fish can either be mounted on a wall as a decoration or cooked up to provide powerful hunger bonuses.
Like the seasonal activities, these additions help streamline the need-based gameplay of The Sims 2. While the fishing and farming aren't incredibly deep, they do add the kind of simple, relaxing busywork you might have seen in such console games as Animal Crossing and Harvest Moon (as well as in the Vacation and Makin' Magic expansion packs for the original Sims game). Compared to the frantic pace of The Sims 2's usual gameplay of juggling relationships, motives, pets, careers, and finances, they're a welcome addition. The expansion also adds several pricey new social objects you can purchase for your sims' home, such as an in-house bowling alley or roller skating and ice skating rinks, which cost a fortune in the game's imaginary "simoleons" currency, but help your sims improve their "body" skill (which aids them in certain career paths) while having fun and socializing with other sims who join in.
Seasons also makes various other minor additions, such as new career paths to follow and new wardrobe choices to reflect the different seasons (such as snug winter outerwear), and these are all presented in the exact same distinctive style that you've come to expect from the Sims 2, with its colorful graphics, expressively animated characters, upbeat music, and the enthusiastic "simlish" gibberish language that all characters speak. But the main attractions are the seasonal gameplay and the new farming and fishing gameplay. They may not seem like earthshaking changes to anyone who isn't already a Sims fanatic, but they're certainly a welcome addition.