Now Sims are born with the traits of their parents, families grow, and Sims grow old.
The game starts at the neighborhood level. Here you can create a housing development from scratch or start with one of three premade neighborhoods, each with its own theme. From there, you'll settle on a house and a family of Sims to control.
|Create your own Sim (above) or your own house (below) from scratch with advanced tools.|
What Else Is New?
Of course, you wouldn't be able to juggle all that if it weren't for the improved "Free Will" option, which makes it easier for Sims to fulfill their basic needs. The artificial intelligence of the game is noticeably improved; they won't turn on radios just as a family member is going to bed but, strangely, they do occasionally put their dishes on the floor.
Another big change in the series is the concept of the lifespan. Now Sims are born with the traits of their parents, families grow, and Sims grow old. Not only does this go hand in hand with aspirations (growing up is the first aspiration that a baby Sim will have), it provides a limited time with which your Sims can achieve their goals.
|The Universal Control Panel helps you manage your Sim family.|
The Sims 2 not only lets you create just about any type of Sim in any type of family, build elaborate houses, and even create a neighborhood from scratch, but it also allows you to start the game in medias res, with premade households. These families all have backstories that are smart spoofs of soap-opera plots--lots of scheming, romance, ghosts, and family fighting. Parents of teens shouldn't worry, though, because nudity is tastefully blurred out and "woo-hoo" between Sims takes place completely under the covers. The ESRB has given this a Teen rating. If The Sims 2 were a film, it would likely land between PG and PG-13.
The makers have included some nice tools to help share the universe you've created. For example, you can capture in-game stills and video to show friends the private moments, family interactions, and house parties of your Sims. You can even package a household to share as a blog or an album on a special Web site.
The Sims 2 is for patient gamers. Like life itself, the game is filled with mundane details, like getting ready for work and doing dishes. The game also demands a level of creativity from its players that the run-and-gun game genres wouldn't know what to do with. But those who stick with it will be rewarded with an absorbing, amusing diversion and a virtual family history that they've created themselves. --Porter B. Hall
Set Up a Sims 2 Machinima Studio
Amazon.com contributor Porter Hall reveals how you can make movies using the Sims as your actors. See his guide to setting up a Sims 2 Machinima Studio.