Sims 2 Review
Most of the basic features from PC version made it into the PS2 game. Players can create a Sim and its home from scratch, send them off to work various jobs, and entwine them in social situations by striking up conversations with pedestrian Sims or by inviting other Sims over with a telephone call. As you continue to play, your Sim will earn money from working that you can use to buy new furniture and clothing, or to enlarge the house. Throughout your Sim's life, you'll have to pay close attention to its wants and needs. These motivations will keep you on your toes, and can range from something simple, like going to the bathroom, to a complex task like becoming a skilled chef. As you can see, the PlayStation 2 version of The Sims 2 offers no shortage of things to do.
There's a story mode, of sorts, underpinning the PS2 game. Among your Sim's wants and needs are so-called gold and platinum wants, which, when satisfied, will improve your Sim's skills and unlock new lots to explore. New lots mean new places to go, new Sims to interact with, and new mini-games to play--so, clearly, unlocking them is a major incentive toward fulfilling your own Sim's desires. Whereas the PC game is extremely open-ended, the PS2 game is less so, because these story mode tasks tend to guide a player's actions and can change a Sim's personality and skills in ways that can't be undone later on.
In the PC game, instead of a story mode, players are kept busy by neighborhood Sims that constantly show up or call to chat, ask for advice, or beg for favors. Some of their behaviors are downright hilarious, and it's those interactions that give the PC game much of its charm and personality. For whatever reason, the developers removed those kinds of specific interactions from the PS2 game. Your Sim can still talk to, make friends with, and fall in love with CPU guided Sims, but only in general ways that involve mindless chatter and generic social situations such as parties and barbecues. That makes socializing in the PS2 game a bit of a ho-hum affair, except for times when you accidentally poison everyone or set fire to the house while cooking.
There are numerous other differences between the PS2 game and the original PC release. Some of the new additions are nice, like the option to directly control Sims with the controller (as opposed to always just vaguely guiding them with menus), and the new cooking interface that lets you concoct thousands of unique recipes. The game also makes good use of the hardware. As many as eight families can be stored on a single memory card and it's possible for two players to play simultaneously using a second controller and a split-screen viewpoint. There's also support for Sony's EyeToy camera, which lets you put your face (or other body parts) on in-game decorations. Unfortunately, and surprisingly, some of the PC game's coolest features didn't make it into the PS2 game. You can't upload Sim diaries and funny image captures to the game's web site or your own personal blog, for instance. By far, the most glaring omission is the inability of the Sims to reproduce and grow old. In the PC game, you had to deal with babies, toddlers, and old folks inside the house. In the PS2 game, you won't be raising children or watching your adult Sims turn into crazy geriatrics.
With regards to the PS2 game's presentation, it looks and sounds fine, provided you haven't had the chance to play the PC game in-depth. There are loads of different character animations and the sheer number of different items ensures that your house will be filled with colorful decorations inside and out. The graphics are reasonably sharp too. Compared to the PC game though, the graphics in the PS2 game are displayed at a lower resolution and the textures are blurry. Mainly, this means that you can't see as wide a view in the PS2 game without scrolling the screen, but it also means that objects like paintings and furniture aren't as sharply defined as they should be. There's also quite a bit of framerate slowdown, which is surprising considering that hardly anything in the environment ever moves. The audio survived the transition mostly intact. The soundtrack for the PS2 game includes many of the songs from the PC game, along with dozens of new songs taken from popular genres. Apart from the music, much of what you'll be listening to while playing are the sounds of doors opening and closing and the noises the Sims make when talking to one another. The Simlish language is hilarious to listen to and injects quite a bit of charm into the game.
On the whole, the PS2 version of The Sims 2 retains the basic gameplay of the PC version, but it's a very different game thanks to all of the additions and subtractions that were made to cram it into a console. Aside from being very streamlined, the PS2 game is primarily focused on the central Sim (instead of neighbors and other housemates). That isn't necessarily a bad thing, since there's still plenty to do between making friends, holding parties, getting to work, expanding the house, buying all sorts of clothing and furniture, and wasting time with dozens of mini-games. Even so, it's impossible to deny that the PS2 game would've turned out much better if some of the nutty neighbors from the PC game, along with the ability to raise kids, were left in. PC players shouldn't give up that version of the game for this one, that's for sure, but if you have a hankering to control the lives of fake people in front of your TV, then The Sims 2 for PS2 should fulfill that need.
11/30/2005 Frank Provo