The Sims: Livin' Large is the official expansion for Maxis' extremely popular strategy game, The Sims. For the most part, Livin' Large adds more of the same to The Sims: more character skins, more career paths, more home furnishings, and more of the original game's quirky, sarcastic humor. The expansion makes very few major changes to the way The Sims is played, but these few new features - and the many other minor additions the expansion contains - should be enough to recommend it to any fan of the original game.
In Livin' Large, as in The Sims, you create a household of tiny, partially autonomous computerized people, or sims, and you conduct their lives as you see fit. You'll order them to do things like eat meals, watch television, use the restroom, and look for jobs. If you meet their needs for food, rest, and amusement, they'll be happy and may lead productive lives. Abuse them, deny them restroom privileges, or starve them, and they'll become depressed and uncooperative and may eventually die. It may not sound very interesting in theory, but it's as intriguing in practice as it was in The Sims. You can also order your sims to meet and speak with other sims from the neighborhood. This sort of simulated social interaction was easily the most engaging part of the original game. Depending on your sims' disposition and astrological sign, they may get along well with their neighbors or may be completely ostracized, which can wreak havoc on your sims' self-esteem.
Thankfully, if your sims' household falls completely apart from neglect (accidental or otherwise), you can start a brand-new household in a brand-new neighborhood. Livin' Large contains five different neighborhoods in which you can establish a sim household. The first two are partially populated by pregenerated sims that inhabit pregenerated houses; the other three neighborhoods are completely empty and can be filled with custom houses and sims that you design.
Designing custom houses in Livin' Large is just as enjoyable as it was in The Sims, if not more so, since Livin' Large includes every single one of the house-building objects from the original game, plus many new options. You can choose from a variety of new wallpapers, carpets, and furnishings; all of these can be selected and placed in your sims' home quickly and painlessly, since Livin' Large uses the same intuitive and easy-to-use building and buying interfaces as the original game. And nearly all of these new items, like the Vibro-Matic bed, the robot housekeeper, and the stained-glass windows, have the same sort of witty and humorous descriptions that items from the original game had. As in the original game, it's worth the effort to browse through all the household items for sale, just to read the amusing descriptions of the new items.
Some of the new household items are merely expensive improvements to existing items, but others can cause exciting and often absurd random events. If you order your sims to clean the new magic lamp, they'll release a genie that may bless your sims with a pot of gold, a lawn full of decorations, or a new pinball machine. Then again, the genie's magic may backfire and set your sims' house alight, make a mess on the floor, or destroy a relationship with a neighboring sim. If your sims use the Concoctonation Station chemistry lab, they may make potions that fulfill all of a sim's bodily needs. Then again, that next potion could turn whoever drinks it into a hideous rampaging monster that will overflow faucets, smash televisions, and clog toilets uncontrollably until the effect of the potion eventually wears off. These and other new items, like the voodoo doll and the telescope, may cause drastic changes in your sims' budgets, moods, homes, and relations with other sims. Though some of these changes can be beneficial, others can be harmful - so if you make regular use of such items, you may find yourself saving and reloading your last game often.
Regardless of what happens to your sims, they'll still look and sound about as good as ever. While there are a few new character animations, like the furtive glances your sims will cast about before downing a potion and the cautious punches your sims will throw at a voodoo doll, nearly all of Livin' Large's character movements have been recycled from the original game. Though they're recycled, the character animations are still expressive, and the few new animations fit in well. In addition, most of the game's sound and music are the same as in the original game. Sims still speak their peculiar brand of spirited gibberish and still watch the same equally garbled television shows and listen to the same equally garbled music.
Unfortunately, The Sims: Livin' Large has some of the same problems that The Sims did - you still can't follow an employed sim to work, and that sim's line of work still has little bearing on the actual gameplay. Furthermore, scrolling the isometric perspective is as sluggish in the expansion as it is in the original game, and your bumbling sims will still occasionally have problems moving to where you point them. Then again, Livin' Large wasn't developed to be a definitive sequel that would make drastic improvements on the core game. It was intended to be a bundle of new content, new furnishings, and a few new options that would make your sims' lives even more exciting, and in that regard, it succeeds.