Besides the consoles, there are four more platforms the Sims 2 is going to be released for later this year. And rather than being the same for all these platforms, Maxis is delivering four different experiences for four platforms. All games have the same core behind it, but other than that the stories are different. They're generally not much like the PC or Console version, but more adventure-like games. All games also focus on different parts in the gameplay. Of course we've seen all these games on Sony's PSP, Nintendo's DS and GBA, and mobile phones.
Note that for the following previews, we've used original screenshots as the quality of the photos is simply too bad. As usual, click the thumbnails to show the large versions of the screenshots.
The PSP version starts with the story that your Sim is travelling around, but the car breaks down. In the middle of Strangetown. That's where you take control, and where the tutorial starts. You have to talk to Oscar to get him to fix your car. While he's working on it, you meet Mambo Loa who introduces you to your personality. She asks a lot of questions, after which you get to know what your aspiration (Knowledge, Romance or Fortune) and starsign is. Think she's wrong? Just tell her and she'll read you again. She also tells you to meet Bella Goth, who tells you her first secret: she was abducted by aliens.
Socialise for Secrets
And that's what the game is all about. Revealing secrets - and there are hundreds of those. You control your Sim directly using the D-pad or the analog stick. Just walk up to another Sim or object to interact with it. Revealing the secrets is done through the social game. When you want to talk to another Sim, there are two options to do so. You can talk as normal, and just chit-chat away and boost that relationship. For this you've got three types of conversations to choose from: friendly, romantic or intimidating. So you can flirt (and eventually marry), get in a fight or just become friends with another Sim.
The social game is quite different though, and is quite much like a mini-game. The other Sim starts talking about something, and you can see what it is by watching the thought bubble that appears. Then it takes pressing the right button with the icon that matches the thought bubble. These icons may differ, although the topic will be the same. That means some topics can have multiple icons. You can't take all the time you need to press the button though. A bar at the top is emptied from green to yellow and finally red. Once that time is up, your chance is over. If you succeed, you might be able to reveal a secret, and the relationship will improve. Other than that, the game will get harder as a relationship progresses. Rather than just having to pick one topic, you'll have a conversation that means you have to select two icons.
Other than revealing secrets, which help you complete the game, you have to fulfil wants and fears. This keeps your sanity meter up. This sanity meter makes up your mood. The separate moods aren't available, but your Sim will show if a specific mood is getting too low. You can also buy perks with this, which help you keep up your moods too. Although the play time was a bit short to get completely through the tutorial (the "stability" of the pre-alpha version didn't help much), this wasn't really explained too well in the tutorial as far as I played. The same goes for the social game, which you do have to understand before it's explained...
Change You - and your Neighbours
Of course you have to create your Sim before you start. There are four steps to go through, where you can also change the shape of your Sim. Besides that you can of course also get some clothes or change the genetics of your Sim. As if that's not enough though, you can be god and change all the other neighbours in the game as well, using the same interface. Think that's all? Think again. If you know somebody else with a PSP who has also made a Sim on it? Using the WI-FI connectivity you can download that Sim, and put them in your game as NPC. All in all there are plenty of options to customise your Sim.
The neighbours live in one of the twenty locations in the game, and all have their own secrets. These locations are put in five neighbourhoods, and each of those has a mini-game again. The line-dancing game that's been shown in earlier videos and screenshots is such a mini-game. Although there are no children in the games, you can get married. You're free to wander around the area as much as you like. Naturally there are also plenty of objects. A lot of those things can be dragged around by your Sim using the inventory. All in all the game is fairly big and should offer plenty hours of gameplay. Expect high quality graphics on the PSP, as this game makes the best use of what's available.
Written at 23:41 on Monday 22 August 2005 by