All of us want something from life. Some of us want to have riches beyond our wildest dreams, others want to have a secure family life with loads of children. Some of us want to stay single and have a string of lovers, others want to learn and understand the mysteries of life. Then there are those of us who want to be the most popular person in town.
Now it isn't just you. Your sims can strive for these things too.
Aspire to Greatness
One of the major changes in TS2 has been the introduction of Aspirations. There are currently five aspirations that your sim can follow.
When you create a sim that is a teenager or older, you choose what their aspiration is. Babies, toddlers and children only have one aspiration and that is to grow up. When your sim becomes a teenager, that is the day you choose what their life's aspiration is going to be. This is a momentous day. However, it is a choice that has to be made carefully.
Currently, there is no way that this can be changed without hacking or using a mod program. However, there is an indication that this could change with the "University" Expansion pack. More on that soon.
Wants and Fears
From toddler upwards, your sims have four wants and three fears. Once you have fulfilled a want or realised a fear, it is replaced with another one. Fulfilling these wants and not realising the fears is now a very important part of gameplay.As someone can change their mind on what they want to do and what they don't want to do, so can your sims but you can lock a want or a fear that either has a high reward and is easy to attain.
In "The Sims", the life of a sim was very basic compared to the life of a sim in "The Sims 2". Get skills, make friends, get promoted, go shopping every so often and twiddle your sim thumbs until you get bored and go and play another sim house.
Now, it's different. Pursuing your wants and fears is very important to keep your sim in a good mood mentally and spiritually. Pursuit of your aspiration is shown by the Aspiration Meter, which has four different stages. Red, Green, Gold, Platinum. If you do something you want, it goes up and if you realise a fear or do not do something you want to do for a while, it will go down.
Green points appear over your sim's head when they do something they want and red points appear over your sim's head when they realise a fear. The bigger the want or fear, the greater the points. To meet someone new gives a reward of 1,000 points. To woo-hoo someone gives a reward of 3,500 points.
Yes, you've probably still got your career to think about and it is always good to get that promotion, but teaching your daughter to walk or inviting your lover over for some woohoo can be more important to you than turning into work.
Yes, you really like the look of some new undies, but your fear of being caught short and having to use a public toilet might be more important. Will you take the risk of going shopping or decide to wear the same underwear every day? Ewwww.
By way of an example ...
A Flash of Lightning
This is Lightning. She has the Popularity aspiration. Her Aspiration Meter, which is found under her aspiration indicator is Gold, which means she is getting a lot of what she wants. Well done, Lightning.
Her current wants are having a party, getting a job in politics, meeting someone new and talking to Toshiro.
Her fears are being rejected for a flirt, getting fat and getting a visit from the social bunny.
Reward & Disaster
Achieving wants and realising fears are quite simple.
Every time you fulfill a want, you gain points and your aspiration meter goes up.
Every time you realise a fear, you lose points and your aspiration meter goes down.
This cumulative total of points allows you to get free reward objects.
From a money tree that pays out a small pittance to special bottles to improve your toddler's learning rate.
From the thinking cap, which looks like a helmet with a lightbulb that helps you learn skills more quickly to a bizarre energizing electrocution device that does in fact max your motive bars.
Although these reward objects may be unrealistic, they do help cut corners. Mind you, living for only 70-odd days is mainly unrealistic and whoever said that TS2 was supposed to be realistic?
From cool shades that amplify the effect of an interaction to the any interaction and are hinted that they help you attain the unattainable to the hour-glass shaped green water cooler that dispenses the elixir of life.
From an attractive looking hot tub that positively advances your relationships to a yellow hat called the noodlesoother to the "simvac" that lets your sim drain any other sim's brain of aspiration or skill points.
What you have to make sure of when using these reward objects is that your aspiration meter is either gold or platinum in order to ensure success. When a meter is just green, the chances are not as certain. Lightning, who we got a quick flash of earlier, would be able to use any aspiration reward object succesfully.
However, not everyone can keep a positive aspiration meter all of the time. If you don't continue to keep getting what you want, your aspiration meter will go down.
If your sim's aspiration meter is in the red, they can have bad dreams and worry a lot.
If your sim's aspiration meter goes sharply into the red, then your sim undergoes a breakdown
They can sit on the floor in a catatonic state, they can cuddle a floursack baby, flirt with a floormop or go begging for simoleons by the roadside. Fortunately, this does not last forever. A weird looking psychiatrist who only the afflicted can see appears and hypnotises them back to some form of normalcy. Only immediately seeing to their wants will prevent this happening again and avert a follow-up visit.
Sometimes, one event in a household can cause a devastating effect on the family. In this case from the Bowen household, Tony's death caused his adoptive daughter to burst into tears and suffer a major drop to her aspiration level. However, Jean exhibited the characteristics of the form of emotional displacement commonly exhibited by flirting with a mop. She was later found outside the house in a catatonic state.
Fulfilling your wants and avoiding your fears does make this closer to living a real life. As the AI means your sims are better at dealing with fulfilling their motives, you now have more time to either enrich the lives of your sims or let their life be their worst nightmare. Muahahaha.
Personally, I really enjoy this new way of playing and helping my sims get the most out of their life.
To be Concluded
In the final part of this review, we look at the family memories your sims can have and how they can be saved for posterity. We conclude with the small problems that prevented "The Sims 2" from being even greater and more fun to play than it already is.
Written at 02:43 on Wednesday 29 September 2004 by
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