The Sims 2
Without a doubt, The Sims 2 is fantastic, enjoyable PC game. Mostly every convention from the original Sims is included in the sequel, with one major change -- the interface with your Sim is now completely 3D. No longer do you have to rotate your map at 90 degree increments. Now you can fully rotate and pitch your camera almost to a top-down view. It's very cool but somewhat awkward at the same time. Actually, I don't think it's awkward as much as different. I caught myself getting annoyed that I was in a view in which I couldn't see a lot of the action, but quickly realized I could rotate instead of turn. The graphics are awesome, especially the Sims facial expressions. They are very lifelike and animated, especially when they are happy or laughing. The motion capture and body language is incredible as well.
The music is incredibly catchy. As non-repetitive and catchy as the first Sims music was, this is even better. I am constantly bopping my head in the menus and build screens. I hope the files are saved on my computer in MP3 format. Let's check. Weak! They aren't.
They've added 'aspirations' which act as different sets of wants' for your Sim, other then career advancement. It gives you a slot-machine selection of smaller wants to accomplish while you are playing. When you complete one of those smaller wants, you are given aspiration points. When they are high enough, no matter what your Sims needs are, you peak out in a state called "Platinum mood". The whole range is similar to the existing Sims mood meter'.
With aspiration points, you can buy strange things that award your Sims in different ways. To try it out, I bought a 'Simolean tree'. If you water it and take care of it, Simoleans literally grow from it, and you can harvest them. A handful yielded about $40; not bad considering that's how much a painting of mine sells for. The interface that you purchase these strange items with very blatantly warns that if you use the items with a level of aspiration that's too low, there can be adverse effects. I wonder...
An example of these aspirations and wants, I made a character, Delaware Gott, a Money-type aspiration. As a result, all of his aspirations are based around money. Some examples: 'make 1000 Simoleans' yields 1,000 aspiration points, 'go to work' yields 750 aspiration points, 'get a job in the business career' at 1,000 points, to the abstract, 'buy a flowerbed', at 500 aspiration points. The more material the goal, the more aspiration points you get from it. Another thing worth mentioning is that some of them are actually just upgrades to your existing things, like purchase a chair worth 400$ or more' or purchase a statue worth 1,500' or more. Cuz we are living in a material world.
Then there are the relationships. Oh the relationships. Delaware has hit it off with this sweet dish from down the street, Nina Calliente. He's asked her to live with him and she's accepted. They are 'in love' right now, and it's good because your aspirations/wants sometimes reflect your desires to do things with your partner, like 'talk with Nina' or 'give Nina a backrub' or 'kiss Nina' or 'make out with Nina' or 'WooHoo with Nina'.
Yes, it's what you think it is.
Like I said before, the motion capture is very realistic. There's a cuddle' and even a make out' command while you are sharing a couch with someone. And it gets pretty graphic, pretty quickly. No skin gets shown, but they manage to wrestle each other around in some pretty suggestive positions on the couch while slopping some serious spit and very audibly enjoying it in the Simspeak you have grown to love.
Needless to say it's nice to have Nina around, because a romp in the sack usually results in some 3,500 hot aspiration point platinum mood action, which means it's pretty much a given you'll get promoted once all your ducks are in a row, (meaning all of your necessary attributes like logic and creativity are at their required levels, as well as having the proper number of friends to advance).
With the addition of 'aging', this gave me an added level of paranoia. I was afraid that you would be panicky, wanting to accomplish lots of things before your Sim digresses into an old fart, but they give you plenty of time. I'm about halfway through my Sims life, so I was thinking about having him settle down and make some babies! YEAH, BABY!
Once Nina moved in I had a chance to control her. This means I could look at her aspirations and wants. This revealed that she has Popularity' aspirations, which are very social. So social that her first set of wants included Kiss 3 different Sims' and WooHoo with 3 different Sims.'
It's worth introducing at this point what the game calls Fears'. Fears work the same way Wants do, only backwards. If they happen, they actually take away aspiration point. Some examples: "Burglary!" -3,500 aspiration points. "See a cockroach" -1,000 points. Usually fears are just polar opposites to some of the current Wants you have, other reflect your personality, or are based off your job. The whole time I played, I only invoked one Fear, and it was along the lines of be refused a kiss by Nina'. Delaware probably had to brush his teeth or something.
One of Nina's major fears was Get engaged to Delaware'. But, another one was be refused a flirt from Delaware'. She is afraid to commit! This disappointed me because Delaware's heart would break if Nina did anything with another man. He was thinking of making her his wife!
Another innovation implemented into the game is what I'll call genealogy'. As before, every Sim has a lifespan. This includes a baby', child' and teen' age eras. If you have a child with someone, (Option: Try for a Baby! WooHoo!) Your child shares the physical traits of its parents, as well as some personality traits. You can view a genealogy family tree of ancestors.
At the time of writing this the creators of this wonderful game, in a very swift act of awesomeness, made it possible for same-sex relationships (and marriage?) to occur. So now, Delaware can confide in knowing that he might possibly be having an open relationship with Nina, getting married while she can invite other women over and WooHoo them while he watches. The future is bright. I love this game.
If The Sims was the Virtual Dollhouse, The Sims 2 is the Virtual Soap Opera. It has broken the wall between observation and participation for me. For many reasons, I feel more deeply engaged and interested in the game. This probably is because of the great, but polished and simple aspiration system, and the incredible interface. I anticipate many more hours spent playing this game. WooHoo!