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The Sims 2: What can we expect?
Introduction to the guessing
That The Sims 2 is coming, is sure. After all, after the big success of The Sims 1, why wouldn't Maxis make a sequel to it? But, there hasn't been one single word from either Maxis or EA announcing this title. There also have been no previews of it anywhere. However, there are some rumours that it'll be released in the second quarter of next year, so probably May or June. That would suit the release schedule that Maxis has been applying for the expansions: a new title about every 6 months. The Sims 2 is no expansion, but maybe Maxis knows people will expect something new again in 6 months? Of course that date is completely unconfirmed and it could be close to christmas 2003 when it's released, nobody knows. Nobody knows anything about it, except the people at Maxis - and they're not allowed to talk about it to people outside Maxis. This editorial is about which features might come in The Sims 2. Please note that nothing of these expectations is based on facts, but all of it is based on guesses. Guessing from The Sims on PlayStation2, and of course The Sims 1.0 and its 5 current expansion packs. I will be doing a lot of guessing so the article is quite long... but worth a read. Let the guessing begin!
What would it look like?
Like The Sims on PS2 (TSPS2), this will probably be all 3D. The birdview from 4 angles would be gone then, so you can move the 'camera' from up to down, left to right, and of course rotate it all the way. If you want, you can look down on your Sims in a top-down view, or you look them straight in the eyes. The neighborhood could be in 3D as well, so you 'fly' over the hood, and 'into' a house when loading it. I don't expect the 'grid-system' used in many games to place objects etc. will be gone. That'd mean that like in The Sims 1, you cannot place objects completely everywhere, but that the land exists of a grid, and that objects can only be placed on those squares. Confusing? Play The Sims 1: you'll see that placing objects is limited to the grid squares, you can't move objects to half squares.

If we're lucky then the game will be a bit like SimsVille was once meant to be. Controlling your Sim, you could also visit your neighbours instead of having to invite them over. From your home you could also go downtown or anywhere else, or even drive a car around the town. Unfortunately I don't really expect it to be like that. If it would be that way, then maybe instead of loading one family or house, you load the whole neighborhood at once, and can easily switch the family you control with a few mouse-clicks. The families you don't control get on with their lives. This would also indirectly allow you to have control of guests in the loaded house. But as I said, this is unlikely to be true: one of the reasons SimsVille was cancelled was that it was unplayable. This way of playing could make the game very buggy, slow and unplayable, if it's not done very well.

More about the objects: these will also be in 3D, allowing you to see it from every single side. That would make the sprites currently used for objects unusable; they allow only a limited amount of viewing angles. Instead it'll probably be more like skins: an object has a mesh, which is the 3D shape of the object, and a 'skin' or texture put over it. This skin or texture is wrapped around the object so you see the object properly. All this could make the creating of new objects a bit harder, although BluePrint users are probably a bit used to it already: you'd have to make a 3D shape (mesh) and a 2D texture to be pasted over it. Recolouring objects wouldn't be much harder, as changing the shape is not necessary for that. All you'd have to do is take the texture, change its colours, and copy all the other things of the object. Easy as that.

The walls and floors of the house would still be pretty much the same. You place a wall, which in 3D will not be just a thin line but it will actually be a 3D shape. However, the wallpapers are just put on it like in The Sims 1. In the end it'll look pretty much the same as in The Sims 1. Floors will in the same way just be textures on the ground. Maybe there will be ceilings too though, so if you're in a room on the first floor, and you look up, you will see the ceiling and not something transparent and Sims walking on air. If you'll see the roof or a ceiling on the second floor: I absolutely don't know. We'll have to see about that.

There could also be some changes in special occasions. For instance, if two Sims kiss passionately, then the camera would zoom in on it, showing you the kiss from close-up. If you get tired of that easily, then pray for an option to turn off such actions...
And the gameplay?
As you might know, TSPS2 has some new game modes. For instance, there's the story-mode, in which you create a family and play 'missions' with it. Missions like: 'Make Betty love your Bob Newbie', 'Cause a fight between the Goth's parents' and so on. Completing those missions brings you further and allows you to get access to more objects to put in your home. Servo will probably not be available until you've completed the last mission, but hey, it's pure expensive luxury anyway, isn't it? If Maxis keeps in the freedom of choice whether you're a good or bad 'god', then there will be 3 'campaigns': one for doing good things (love, marrying, kids), one for bad things (fights, divorces, death), and one campaign for both. Complete freedom of choice like Black&White gives you wouldn't work out too well I think. In Black&White the villagers have an opinion about you as god, but Sims don't have that. If you have to get Betty and Bob fall in love with each other, then you could as player get Betty killed, but then the mission would've failed. After all, wouldn't Betty be needed in the next (or a later) mission?

Then there's two-player mode, which could be nice to those who don't have the money for TSO but do want to play together. If it's going to be as in TSPS2, then there would be 2-player challenges, where you have to beat the other player by creating a better lifestyle. The coolest lifestyle wins.

Because on a PC you don't have two controllers like you do on the PS2, these two-player modes probably won't be split-screen but done over a LAN (Local network, i.e. two or more computers hooked up to each other). Maybe if you have a gamepad or second mouse, then you could be able to play split-screen, but that's not sure. Also, instead of two-player more it could be real multiplayer, so you could have a Sims party, get all your (real-life) friends to come over with their computers, connect the computers, and play The Sims together until the early morning. I doubt the game will allow more than 8 players at a time, maybe just 4 or with some luck you could play with 16 people at the same time in the same game.

Of course there will also be the freeplay mode that is the only option in The Sims 1. Do with your Sims whatever you want... Be good, bad, something in between. Give your Sims top-careers or let them drown in the money using a cheat. Or, instead, make them hate each other, get some Sims killed, and don't give them any money at all. It's up to you. This game mode will be nearly exactly like The Sims 1. It could be though that you need to have finished all missions in the campaigns to have access to all objects - without finishing those you'd have access to just a few. But to be nice, Maxis will probably put in some cheat allowing you to skip all the missions and give you access to everything right away.
What about other features?
Here's a list of other smaller features for The Sims 2:

Multiple Neighborhoods: You will probably be able to play more neighborhoods right away. But because of the possible mission game mode, there will probably be 'profiles'. That means that when you start the game, you'd have to enter your name so the game knows what to load. So if you have finished all missions already and so can access all objects, but somebody else in your (real-life) family hasn't, then they also cannot access all objects. It would probably be possible to have more than one neighborhood per profile, so the amount of neighborhoods becomes virtually unlimited. On the other hand, Maxis might decide to allow just one neighborhood per profile. With using more than 1 profile and if necessary some cheats, you could still play more than one hood though.

Customising and expanding the game: As in The Sims 1, the game will most likely be as expandable as it could be. Maxis would make it possible for everybody to make their own objects, skins, walls, floors, roofs, maybe ceilings, and so on. Many fansites would probably start adding stuff for The Sims 2 once it's released. Maybe not so much at the start, but when some useful programs are released that can make some things easier, there would be more and more downloads for The Sims 2. This would probably also increase the (already huge) number of fansites, although some will be limited to The Sims 1, others to The Sims 2 and some sites will cover both. I can say that The Sims Zone will cover both The Sims 1 and The Sims 2. This will remain the place to come for everything to make The Sims (2) better than it is.

Starting items: Maxis will probably convert some - or even most - of the objects from The Sims 1 and expansions to The Sims 2. That means that besides chairs, tables, couches, beds, showers, toilets, baths etc., there will be a hot tub, Servo, a chemistry set, magazines and so on. Definately not all objects would be converted, but you'll most likely see the better objects in the game.

Downtown, Vacation island and Old Town: It's hard to say if these will be put in The Sims 2 as well. People could expect it and so Maxis should really make it from the start. On the other hand, Maxis could decide to release 5 expansions for The Sims 2 as well, and so you'd have to buy these expansions to get these areas. These areas - or similar ones - will probably be in The Sims 2 at some time, but it's impossible to say if they're in from scratch.

Pets: Players of The Sims wanted these in The Sims 1 from the start. With Unleashed they're finally in that game. But as they were wanted so much I think Maxis will bring these in the next version from the start. An expansion pack and/or user-created downloads could get you more pets in the game. Just like the extra areas like Downtown, it could also be that you won't see pets until some expansion pack. I think that pets are more likely to be in the game from the start than the extra areas.

Skin-creating: Instead of just selecting ready-to-go skins, I also expect something similar like the Sim-creator (as found in the Deluxe edition and the PS2 version) in the game. This would mean you can put your own Sim together, by giving him some pants, a shirt, some jewellery etc. seperately, by simply dragging what you want onto the mesh. This would allow everybody to create their own skins with lots of options. You could probably increase the amount of items to make your skin with by downloading such items from fansites. Note that if your Sim gets a ring or something as present from another sim, that they will probably still not start really wearing it like in The Sims 1 (with Hot Date).

Gable-end roofs: If Andy keeps nagging enough, then we might see those in the new game. If there'll be an attic, then we'd probably also get gable-end roofs. If we're not so lucky - and to be honest I think that'll be the case - there won't be gable-end roofs in the game. Maxis shouldn't put them in the intro then though. We should wait and see if we're going to get those gable-end roofs.

More floors: I doubt we'll be able to make a third floor on our houses. The limit will most likely be two floors and with a bit of luck an attic. You won't be able to build skyscrapers (get SimCity to see those in a Maxis game). Even though it's a much wanted feature, I don't expect this one. Too bad.

Bigger families: Everybody probably has at least one Sims-family with 8 members (including pets). Unfortunately, you've reached the limit then, and you can't bring more in the family. You can't have a big family with lots of pets. In The Sims 2, this limit should be moved up to 16 members, or it should even be gone. After all, limits shouldn't be limiting too much; they should be set so high that most regular players won't reach those limits. We'll have to see about this one too, although I do think (and hope) that Maxis will increase this limit. Having multiple families living in one house (like a flat) will probably also not be possible.

Sims at work: I somehow doubt this will every be possible, but you never know. At IGN there's a nice article discussing this. The ideas put there could work out pretty well. There's very often more than 1 working Sim in a family, and often there are multiple sims at work at the same time. Which Sim would you be following to work? Or would you only go to the workplace if you want to? Also, there are currently quite many career tracks. If you'd need one building for every career track, then you'd need another big extra area for those lots. The 'Overtime' option IGN mentions sounds nice, but is it useful? I recommend that you read that article to find out more about The Sims at work. As I said, some of the ideas are good, but I somehow doubt it'll ever get into The Sims.
Hmm, time for a new computer?
Guessing the system requirements is probably the toughest of this all. Currently, TSO (the play test) requires a 500MHz computer and 128MB of RAM memory. That could also be a nice estimate for The Sims 2. I don't expect The Sims 2 to run smoothly on 300Mhz. It'll probably be at least a 500Mhz processor, with 128MB RAM. (600Mhz or higher and 256MB Recommended). The Windows versions are easy though: Windows 98 (SE), ME and XP will be supported. It probably will run on Windows 2000, but it won't be officially supported. The required hard disk space for just the game will probably be around 1GB. After lots of downloading or expansion packs, the required space could go up to 3GB or beyond, depending on how much you install. You should absolutely not start upgrading your computer or even buying a new once because I write those specifications here. It's a rough estimate. If you need a better system for this game and you absolutely want this game, get it by the time The Sims 2 comes out. Then you'd know the exact specifications, plus you'll get something a bit better for the same money. Of course you should ask yourself if you really need to upgrade your current system, or even buy a complete new computer, just to play a game.
A final thought
If Maxis is so nice to give us most of what I've mentioned in this article, then The Sims 2 will be a lot better than The Sims. But as it are all expectations, estimates and guesses, it's impossible to say if it'll really be like that. Don't get your hopes up too high though, as you probably won't see everything mentioned above. On the other hand, some things that I mentioned that I think will not be in The Sims 2, could be put in after all. The wish-list for The Sims is big, and Maxis will probably never be putting all of it in The Sims - they'd have to delay the game for ages. The biggest wishes will be brought to us more likely, like what happened with the pets. No matter what, it will quite definately be more than just a better looking The Sims 1. It's something to look forward to for next year.

Please do not jump to conclusions from this article, never expect too much of something and so not of The Sims 2 as well. I've had absolutely no contact with Maxis or EA to gather information for this article, so it is completely based on my thoughts. Maxis could be making it completely different from what I've said. Nothing of the above is definite until it's been confirmed by Maxis or EA, or when it's seen in (p)reviews on other sites.
Written at 20:30 on Sunday 17 November 2002 by ChEeTaH.

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