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Sims 2 University - Preview Part 2
Hmmmmmm... Lectures
Of course the Sims 2 University wouldn't be anything without some level of education. Getting good grades is important, and there are several ways to get those. At the end of each semester there will be a final exam, which you have to pass. If you fail a semester twice in a row, you'll be kicked out. The basic way to get your grades up is by going to college. The time of college is determined by the major you chose, and every major has several subjects with crazy names. If you don't like the lectures, you can always try to bribe the professor by being too nice to him, or you can try to hack the school computers. Hacking computers does require secret society membership, but once you have that you can start hacking using any computer you find.

There are 11 majors in total, each of which has 3 ideal careers of which one is new to the game. The majors are History, Physics, Literature, Political Science, Mathematics, Economics, Biology, Phylosphy, Art, Drama and Psychology. In the first years you can still change major by using the computer or the phone. This will change the time your Sim will "have to" follow class. By following specific majors, you can also give your Sim a head-start in one of the ideal careers.

Going to school is just like going to work in the base game - your Sim walks off the lot, and returns again a few hours later. Maxis didn't think the "listen for 3 hours" interaction would be that interesting, so you don't see them while they're listening to what mr. Prof has to say...

Every semester takes three simdays, or 72 hours. The age bar is replaced by a bar indicating just the semester progress in hours. Unlike the regular neighborhood, time now does pass when going off to community areas. That means you can't just hang around in the community areas studying, expecting your semester to take twice as long as it normally would. In total you spend four years at University, each of which has two semesters. That means your Sim will take at least 24 days to graduate, but they might take longer if they fail a semester, or they might even drop out and grow up quicker.
Control Freaks
At University you'll have to deal with a lot of non-playable Sims. That means you have absolutely no direct control over them, but that's why the Influence system is introduced. This feature isn't limited to University, but works all through the game. Using this system, you can have other Sims do the dirty work for your Sim. That doesn't limit itself to hiring a free maid for a while, but you can even get other Sims to write college papers and so improve your grades while partying. So if you ever want to control other Sims you can't control directly, it's easy using this system.

Your influence is indicated using an extra bar next to the aspiration one. This bar shows your influence score. By fulfilling wants that have a blue border around the icon you gain influence, and by having more friends you can increase the maximum amount of influence your Sim can have. In the "Influence" pie menu you see the points an action costs, and those points are taken off your influence score. That means you can't use the influence too much without earning any. Influence wants can be locked just like any other want, so you can focus on it.
I Want...
In the Sims 2, the new Aspiration feature was introduced. This will be improved with the Sims 2 University as well, in various ways. The first has already been mentioned: the influence system includes wants which will give you influence besides aspiration points. But there's more: after graduating, your Sims will have earned two bonus want slots so your Sim can have up to 6 wants at the same time. An extra lock will also be given after successfully passing the third year at Uni, so you can put a lock on two wants or fears. After the second year your Sim will get the option to change to another aspiration track too, so you're not necessarily stuck with what you initially chose when the Sim became a Teen. However, if your Sim fails to graduate and gets kicked out of University, an extra fear slot will be added so there's a bigger chance of your Sim to lose aspiration points.

But there's one more thing that every Sim will have as soon as they become Teen: a Lifetime Want. The one your Sim has depends on the aspiration track you chose for them. There are multiple lifetime wants per Sim so not all your Sims with the same aspiration track will have the same lifetime want. Romantic Sims for example may have the want to get 20 lovers, simultaneously. That sounds impossible, but the targets can be achieved within a normal Sims' lifetime.

When succeeding the lifetime want, you'll have a forever-happy Sim. They will be in Platinum mode all the time without a chance of that decreasing, so you can use any aspiration reward without fearing failure. If you change your Sims' aspiration track - which can happen after passing the second year at University - the lifetime want will also be changed accordingly.
The expansion pack will also ship with 4 new career tracks, all available only after graduating at University. Of course each comes with special career rewards as well. The Paranormal career can get your Sim a Resurrectonomitron. Call up the Grim Reaper, and you can bring back to life any Sim your Sim knows and has passed away for whatever reason. The more money you give, the bigger the chance the returning Sim will be alive. Spend too little money, and it's more likely your Sim will not return at all, or as a zombie - they look blue, limp and won't age. Oh, and reproducing isn't an option for them either, so you won't be able to get any baby zombies that way. Other than that they're perfectly normal Sims. When resurrecting an elder Sim, they'll go back to the beginning of that life stage, so it's still worthwhile resurrecting elder Sims as they won't die again the next day.

Another object, brought to you through the Natural Scientist career, is the (in)famous Cow-plant. This plant is - as Maxis research has proven - the source of Elixir of life. Normally the plant has a pie in its beak, and it's important to keep it well-fed. Try to take the pie, and you'll regret it. With one big swallow, a Sim can be eaten up after which the plant will spit out an urn. But anybody's loss is somebody else's gain: your Sims can now milk the plant, and get some Elixir of Life to add some days to their life. Anybody from NPCs to your own Sims can be fed to the plant, including Professors.

The Camera, which you'll get when becoming an Artist, adds a new way to make pictures of your Sims. You can get Sims to pose in a lot of different ways, which they'll keep doing until their moods are too low, or you tell them to stop. You'll need one Sim to take the picture, which is done is a special way: you'll see a square on your screen of what the picture will be. You can move this around any way you like, and so create a picture the way you want. After taking the picture, you can either sell it, or pick it up and place it on the wall or an end table.

Finally there's the Home Plastic Surgery Kit. This kit, earned in the Show Business career, gives your and NPC sims the option to change their looks. Ugly Sims can now become pretty, and the other way around. But beware: things can go wrong. If your Sim is unlucky, they'll turn out to be extremely ugly when all they wanted to be was pretty. Your Sims might need a second nose job after using the Plastic Surgery kit.
Buying Socially
Besides these career objects, there are many other objects that are new. The pool table for example took one animator over a month of work to complete. If you watch the game closely, you'll see your Sims actually play a complete game of pool - just like the chess table. Some other objects that come with the expansion are the bubble blower and the juice keg looking like a giant pineapple. The sprinklers make your house fireproof without having to call firemen, as they will extinguish any fire automatically. They do cover just a 3x3 squares field though, so one of them might not be enough for an entire room. Besides that, they can also be used for pranks.

When it comes to media, there is a new radio station: on the College Rock real-life upcoming student bands play Simlish versions of their music. But Mark Mothersbaugh, known for making the theme for the original game, has also made some new music that plays while loading the game. As if that's not enough, Sims can now also play music themselves. There are four music objects including the existing piano, a drum set, a guitar and electric bass. Sims with some vocal talent can freestyle over the music. When forming a band, Sims will actually play together, and the creative and less creative ones will stand out - which is either good or bad. With a tip jar, your Sims might be able to earn some extra money too.

On TV there's now also a new Sports channel. This has some special use too, as you can now have your Sims watch American Football, Soccer and Boxing while throwing a party. The party guests will join in front of the TV, and react on the action on the field. And this is just one of many new socials that are in the expansion. Your Sims are able to a lot more, even when interacting with themselves. There are some new idle interactions, but as you might have seen, Sims can also start running around the place naked if you want to. A lot of socials have been added to make the game more fun - including a number of pranks for Sims to pull. Secret Society members even have their own social: the secret handshake. All members (and remember: they're member for life!) know this, and will never refuse it.

Build, Build, Build!
As you read here before, build mode has also undergone some changes. In dorms a large part of it is disabled - you can only place some decorational items - but outside that several new features have been added. Imagine big doors and two-story columns which were already mentioned in the previous article. Big doors are huge compared to the regular ones, and you can have them in normal door shapes, or arches. Two-story columns are also an improvement to just placing two columns on top of each other.

But there's a lot more: you now have a lot more control over fences. There are now "Smart fences", which give you more control over where it places posts. There is still a maximum of squares between two posts, but in some cases this is bigger than one. By just dragging pieces of fence, the game will place posts on the start and end of the squares you drag. The posts will no longer be placed on game-determined places, but you now have some control over that.

In the neighborhood there are new ploppables as well. You can place some new trees in your neighborhood, but also a University gate or a statue. And it's now also possible to build towers of up to 256 stories (or something like that, Maxis doesn't even know the exact number themselves). This will only be possible through a special cheat, as lots of floors can decrease the performance a lot. There are a few towers included in the University though, which your Sims can visit. It's locked behind a cheat due to the performance loss, as with a limit less players will start complaining about performance loss with tall places. This method is used for several things in the game anyway; settings that can cause a loss in performance can be unlimited using cheats, but only for players who more or less know what they're doing.
Anything Else?
The expansion doesn't bring back everything from the Sims 1 though. Some often requested features, including pets and weather, are not available. Pets are being worked on though, but weather is still causing issues as it's too complicated for Maxis to have it detect roofs. You can have rain inside using the sprinklers, but that's not what you want too when it's raining outside. Taking the weather out was a hard decision for Maxis to make though, and although it might make a come-back in the future it's not sure Sims in the Sims 2 will ever have a rainy day. Native split-level houses are also not available, nor do you see the entire neighborhood around your house. This has to do with graphical quality and performance. The same goes for the see-through ceilings - nothing has changed there, but that might change in the future (I'm not saying it will!).

This concludes our preview of the first expansion pack. The expansion probably has a lot more than what's covered in here, but all will be unveiled soon - at the time of writing anyway - and after that you can expect a review of the pack on the Sims Zone. The game is rated T for Teen (ESRB), or 12+ in Europe (PEGI) and can be bought through our online shop.

Written at 21:20 on Wednesday 23 February 2005 by ChEeTaH.

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