Don't fall asl...
As you remember in The Sims 1, beds could only be used for sleeping and "playing
". In The Sims 2, beds will have even more features. Sims can just lie down on the bed and think, or read a book, and perhaps even watch TV. And something many people want: sleepovers are now a possibility! Your teenage Sims will now be able to have as many slumber parties as they like. Your guests won't have to go home when it gets 'late'.
Simicon Valley has also worked hard in SimCity: some of the electronics have been improved a lot. Remember the old TV from The Sims, which usually showed no more than 1 picture for a channel? Now you can have moving pictures on your screen, which of course looks a lot better. I've checked this out and - probably for performance - the quality of the programme that was on wasn't too great. However, it looks very nice and of course more realistic. Computers are now also more advanced. Remember Andy's article
about the PC for Adult Sims, written about 3 years ago? Some of the things there have now come true. Instead of having just the phone to socialise without having to invite Sims over, you can now also get SIM ("Sims Instant Messaging
") on your computer and chat to other Sims in the neighborhood. Okay, I made up that name myself, but Sims will be able to chat - and I wouldn't be surprised that Maxis would actually call the chat function SIM... I'm not sure if adults can improve skills like cooking using the computer, but that would be cool as well.
And as if it's magic, lights will also flash on automatically whenever a Sim enters a too dark room - if you have any lights anyway. Although that's nothing new for Sims 1 players, it is worth a mention. To keep pollution down, Sims will (still) take the carpool to work. However, instead of Sims just disappearing in the car, they will now actually get in, and you can see them drive away. Of course they can also go to the community areas, where they can buy stuff like new clothes and get a new haircut. However, no matter how many clothes a Sim has, they won't automatically wear something different every day. You will have to order your Sims to change if you want to change them a bit. An advantage is that clothing is now actual clothing, and is worn over a skin. You won't have any problems with slightly different skin colours anymore when using custom content. Thanks to clothing, all sets will be available for all skin tones as well.
Share your stories
If you've been following The Sims 2 for a while, you'll know about the improved album functions. Of course you can still make screenshots, but you can now also make AVI videos, and post these as custom content. However, you should keep in mind these files will be very big and will cost a lond of bandwidth if you post them on your site. You will also need quite a lot of free disk space to store your albums. If you want to keep them, it might even be wise to buy a bunch of empty CDs (or DVDs), so you have something to burn your movies on. From what I understood, movies will be in MPEG format. These can be easily burnt to video-cds, which can be played by most DVD players as well. So if you can't get enough of your Sims, you can now even watch them on your TV whenever you want. Even if the videos aren't in MPEG format, some software to convert it will make it possible for you. I expect there will be tutorials about burning your albums to a DVD a while after the game is out. Oh, and I shouldn't forget that you can also have your own music on your videos.
Talking about music: this is as customizable as most other parts in the game. If you want to put your own MP3s in the game, that's no problem. You can have your favourite music in the game. But for those who don't like playing with such music, there's an option: The Sims 2 will ship with all new music. You won't find any of the old Sims tunes in the final version, although we recognised some of the music in the presented version, simply because not all the music was finished yet. But if you have The Sims 1, you can always use The Sims 1 music as custom music in The Sims 2. It's no problem at all! Besides the music, the speech has been completely revamped as well, so voice-actors have been busy. Sims still won't speak English, but the well-known Simlish, which fervent Sims players should speak as fluently as their mother language.
Even though The Sims 2 allows players to do more with their Sims than ever before, there are still some limits in the game. For instance, for performance issues the amount of floors is still limited to 3 (plus the roof as fourth). Sims still can't own a vehicle and drive it, and Sims won't be able to visit somebody else's house. Although this is possible in The Sims Bustin' Out on the consoles, the development of the games is completely separate which means a lot of stuff won't make it from the consoles to the PC, and vice versa. Things console players might miss in The Sims 2 are the possibilities of having a vehicle (which Sims can drive) at home, visiting other Sims, the story and multiplayer modes, and more. Of course The Sims 2 has its own unique things, like the memories and growing up mentioned in part I of this article (on the previous page). And you can stop time, but this is limited to a household, not a specific family member.
Something else people might miss is the variety in the length of Sims. There is a minor difference in height, but because of animation problems, it's not possible to have little Sims and tall Sims in the same age group (for instance Adults). A nice anecdote that I was told that once there was a bug in the game that put toddler skins over an adult skeleton, which made it look like an alien. When Maxis swapped it around, the toddlers (with adult skins) looked like dwarfs. However, there won't be a cheat whatsoever to do that, in the final version, as it was just a bug that has been fixed. What you'll also notice when creating new Sims, is that the shoes are tied to the pants. The limit in that is, that you won't be able to give your Sim different shoes, unless you give them different trousers.
What many people will miss as well, are the puppies, kittens and other pets. I haven't checked if there was a guinea pig or any similar pet in the game, but there might be (probably some fishes again). However, it's quite likely that they will be seen in an expansion pack. From what I've heard, that will probably be the second pack. With the same release schedule as with The Sims 1, that'll be about a year after the initial release of the game.
There's more when it comes to things people want, but won't get. Adult Sims for instance, will still have to be married (and living together) if they want a child - however both non-identical as identical twins will appear in the game occasionally, as well as (rare) triplets. However, if you want the parents to live separate lives, you can get them divorced again. And if they get in a real big fight for whatever reason, there's still just the divorce option. Sims aren't so violent that they can kill each other, although there might be some crazy website making that sooner or later as custom content...
Are you in control now?
Yes, there is still a lot unknown when it comes to gameplay, and a lot has been discussed before which I didn't mentioned in this article. There was too much to ask and many questions only came to my mind after the event. Hence the several "I'm not sure"'s in the article. All the questions that are left will be answered eventually, between now and a short time after the game is released. I've tried to cover as much as I could in this gameplay article on two pages. Of course this isn't the end of the special: you will find articles about custom content (e.g. CaSIE), Maxis Fansite hosting, and the technical aspects behind the game in the rest of this special.
Written at 22:50 on Tuesday 18 November 2003 by