I played The Sims 2 for eleven hours, nonstop. Two breaks of a few seconds to run to the bathroom. I simply couldn’t stop and my plan was to fiddle with it just for a few minutes (I had the SWG patcher on the background, waiting it to finish). Well, this game is a masterpiece and Will Wright a genius. He surely knows how to design.
I was already a fan of the game’s concept because I loved “Little Computer People” on my old Commodore 64 (David Crane) and I bought the first “The Sims” right when it was released but I didn’t play it for long. It’s a type of game with no real purpose and it was fun till you discovered the “space of possibilities”. When you have a grasp of what the game allows you, the fun starts to fade away and the simple repetition kicks in.
This new version not only improves on every part that made the first successful (successful beyond what is acceptable) but reaches a “perfection” right in the pure design. It’s a perfect game where nothing is out of place or overworked or ignored. “It fits”. A perfect simulation within simple rules that you can quickly master and a lot of fun.
Yes, the game is still limited because, once again, once you discover all the possibilities the game will start to feel repetitive but what I mean is that it achieved already a perfect status and I’m already waiting the expansions. I love this new version because it fixes my problem with the first: the player was the one choosing what to do, why and for how long. You were the “ruler” of the game and this means that when your interest starts to fade, the game does nothing to keep you in and playing. In this new version each sim will have a real life, the sim will age and transit through various phases, till they die. There are family trees that you can examine and these relatinships have a meaning. The sims have genes and their “features” will be inherited by their childrens, both the appearance and attitude. This to give some depth and continuity to the whole game (you can build a small village and control the different families, interacting with them even if the sims you don’t actively control don’t age), this continuity helps a lot to give a sense to the playsession. It’s not anymore a fun experiment “just because” but it’s an ongoing simulation that stimulates you to go on.
This isn’t the only important part. The sims now have short-term goals and fears. This is really an ingenious idea for the game. This is why I couldn’t stop to play. You have always something to do, always something to reach and to work toward. You don’t have a second to stop and wonder “what now?”. It a type of fun that never stops. It was years that I didn’t finish completely kidnapped by a game, forgetting about the time and if I was hungry or sleepy. I couldn’t stop to play. It was a continuous “just another day and I log out”, but there was always something hooking me.
The game is perfectly balanced, at the beginning I felt the time passing too fast and the days between each phases (with the sim aging) not enough. But I discovered that this is again just perfectly crafted. You don’t have to micromanage anymore all the little details. The sims react a lot better and you have plenty of time to try and experiment. You aren’t forced into situations you want to avoid and the age of the sim becomes a mini-game. If you keep satisfying the sim’s desires you acquire points that you can spend on a special potion that pushes back the countdown to the next phase of their life. So this basically becomes the “goal” that the first game didn’t have.
Now I just have to remember to not log in if I don’t want the sims to steal my life and soul. This game is worst than crack.