Together with several other fansites in the Netherlands, The Sims Zone was invited to check out Apartment Life a couple of weeks before the release. We got a few hours to play the game and check out all we could find. So here it is: a preview of the latest and possibly last expansion pack for the Sims 2. Enjoy it, from the bottom to the ceiling!
But first: a brief warning that the pack was not entirely finished yet. Also, as the pictures are no screenshots but actual pictures of a screen instead, the quality is not representative for what you may expect in the final version of the pack. The videos in here are without sound - there simply was no sound of the game when we played. Also, as time was fairly short, we won't be able to cover all features of the pack in this preview.
This pack makes it easy to just get started. It introduces a brand new neighborhood (just like Seasons and FreeTime). This time it carries the name of Belladonna Cove. Bella being the famous Goth one. You'll find her in the neighborhood too. Not as a living Sim - not that I know of anyway - but as a statue of her holding a platinum plumb bob. In fact, this is just a simple neighborhood ploppable you can put down in any of your existing neighborhoods if you like. Some other decorational options include alleys, a power plant and large flats (like those in Nightlife), allowing you to give your neighborhood a downtown-look. Sims are heading into the city, again.
You'll find plenty of buildings in the new hood. You might be expecting just apartments, but that's not the case. However, there are plenty of those to get you started. So let's see what they have to offer.
Living by the Week
Moving into an apartment has some consequences. Most importantly: the building is not yours. You share it with other families (up to 4 playable ones per apartment block), you pay weekly rent to your landlord. This rent is based on the size of the apartment and the objects that came with it. Unless you cheat you also can't really change much to the apartment. The structure is set, items that were in the apartment you had can't be sold, and basically all you can do is redecorate a bit and buy new furniture. The rent you pay is generally much higher than the normal bills that come every three days, but you also get something in return. Your landlord will do the necessary dirty jobs around the house. He'll take care of all the communal areas on the lot, from gardening to cleaning. And, for the first time in the Sims 2, you can visit your neighbors. Only the ones on the same lot, though. A simple knock on their door will get you in - as long as they are home.
You can build or modify your own apartment blocks - you may have to enter a cheat or two though - with all the new options that Apartment Life brings to the world of the Sims 2. There's a new lovebed (and new sheets, too), spiral stairs, plenty of playground objects (monkeybars, spring riders and a slide) for your children, a new Murphy bed and perhaps best of all, ceilings. These are exactly like floors, just on top of you instead of under your feet. Whenever you place down a floor on a higher level, you automatically also get a ceiling. By default this will have the same texture as the floor, but you can change that. Just like floors you can create any pattern you like, crafting a ceiling just like you would do with a floor. All you need to do is use the new "45 degree" tool in build mode, which sets the camera in a position such that instead of looking down, you're looking up. If you don't like the ceilings, they are quickly toggled off (and back on) with a small button in the bottom-left of the puck. One more little UI improvement in build mode is that whenever you put down new wallpaper, new floors or a new ceiling, you won't just see how much it'll cost you anymore. Right below the simoleon cost, you'll see a number indicating the amount of tiles you're filling up with the new decoration.
Also new for builders - though available in buy mode - are custom French roofs. Rather than being actual roofs, you can pick from a few objects and purchase the roof one tile at a time. This provides some more customization options for your roofs - the elements come in several colors already - with the downside that it'll be an expensive roof. One that the game won't create for you.
Fun for the Family
Another noticable new object you can buy include a helicopter - together with a helipad - which functions just like any car. You can arm it with an alarm, use it to take a spin, or just go to work with it. One advantage compared to cars is that you don't need to put the helipad on the left of the lot. It's huge, but you can place it anywhere in open space, including on top of your house. The pack also seemed to come with the driveways as seen in Nightlife, but without any cars. You can download a few of those from the official site though.
For those with Pets, you don't have to worry: you can bring pets along to your new apartment. If you don't have pets, and stil want a small lap dog, you can by buying the dog pen. This will house one small dog, you can pick a few types and name it, play with it and feed it. Or ignore it, if that's more like you.
Besides that you'll also be able to find a roommate to share the rent with. Although we didn't really have time to check out how this works, it's said it's just a matter of placing an ad in the newspaper, finding the right person, and make them move in. Don't like your roommate? It's just as easy to kick them out again. You can have up to one roommate at a time.
Although apartments aren't generally the largest units to live in, the limit of the amount of Sims and pets in an apartment is the same as that of the regular houses. Up to 8 Sims, 6 pets, 10 creatures in total. Just make sure you find enough beds for all of them to sleep in. When it comes to spacing issues, the pack does deliver a few new objects which may save some space. Not just the aforementioned Murphy bed and spiral stairs, there are also trash chutes which save your Sims the walk down to the street-level trashcan, and there's a secret bookcase which can function as secret door.
Written at 03:05 on Tuesday 12 August 2008 by