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Storytelling
Can you tell us a Story?

Once upon a time, there was a 30-something Englishman who entered a contest to review an expansion pack. What? You've heard that story and that wasn't the one you were after? Ok, I'll tell you the stories of Riley and Vincent.

There are two stories and a free play mode. Personally, I found the two stories to be very good. I found them entertaining, predictable and addictive, all at the same time. The first story you will be playing will be Riley's story. Vincent's story is locked until you have completed the first three chapters of Riley's story.

Based in the small coastal community of Four Corners, which is basically a circle of houses and a small row of shops just off a main road, overlooking a bay with a lighthouse, you play Riley Harlow. Riley has just lost her job in Sim City and in order to get back on her feet, she has moved from Pleasantview to stay with her aunt for a while.

The aunt conveniently disappears leaving Riley to her own devices to look after herself, find a job, make friends and perhaps find love. I am not giving too much away but if you do complete the story, which I repeat is addictive, everyone ends up happily ever after. Also, the box seems to give away who the love interest is, who the rival is and what happens next.

The story is divided up into chapters. Some are quicker than others, but in general, you will be playing for just under two sim weeks. To get through the chapters, you need to complete all of the goals. Also, each chapter unlocks a new story reward item. The first item in Riley's story that is unlocked is a coffee machine that is brought as a house-warming present. If you are playing both stories at the same time, for example one chapter of Riley's and then one of Vincent's, the unlocked story reward items from one story can be bought in the other.

The first few chapters of Riley's story work as a form of tutorial in that they show how to play the game while doing and also play TS2 if you wish to move up to the "bigger brother" afterwards. They also allow you to customise Riley's outfit and appearance. However, despite tinkering with her looks, I did choose to keep her just about as she looked normally.

With the stories in TSLS, the plot is scripted. This means some normal actions can be restricted. These included developing relationships outside of the plotline. Riley's relationship with a fireman has been restricted in this way. It also means some other normal actions, which are not normally available until a relationship reaches a certain level, are allowed. As an example of this, somewhere during the story, Riley gets to attack someone who is not necessarily her enemy.

You are informed when each chapter finishes, which I find is a good point to save the game. After the completion of Chapter 3 of Riley's story, you are informed about Vincent's story being unlocked.

Vincent Moore is a business tycoon and his story begins with him returning home from a two week business trip where he has overseen the launch of the SimSat 9000 satelite. He returns to find that his girlfriend of three weeks has arranged their wedding and at his expense whilst leaving the house a complete mess. This is not quite what Vincent had in mind. Vincent's story is basically about trying to find true love with someone who is not after him for his substantial wealth. The story has romance, action, supernatural encounters and a critical decision towards the end of the story.

Once you finish a story, it opens up the neighborhoods in which the story was set. This means Four Corners for Riley's Story and Bitville for Vincent's stories. They also come with the other primary characters who you met while playing the stories.

Effectively, it is like Free Play Mode but with a bit more.

So what about the Free Play mode?

This allows you to play in Four Corners from the start. It allows you to play different families and basically enjoy the TSLS gameplay but without having to follow a story. You can create your own family in the CAS, which looks very similar to the TS2 one, and even build your own home.

You don't get the chance to play Bitville unless you complete Vincent's story.

How does the TSLS gameplay differ from TS2 gameplay?

TSLS in Free Play mode or "Story Over" mode is basically a lite version of TS2. Your new sim families start with more money, There are no bills to pay, the flowers to not need watering and there are no fears that could turn your sims into catatonic wrecks panhandling for money, cuddling sacks of floor or otherwise gibbering in the corner.

As a downside, this also means no custom content. The only additional content is from official downloads from the website.

I'd love to see Riley or Vincent in Pleasantview Can I export them?

No. TSLS is a standalone product and although it looks like TS2 and plays on your computer, you may as well be playing it on a console. It is not compatible.

As a suggestion to EA Sims Division (aka Maxis), it would be nice to see the neighborhoods of Four Corners and Bitville and the new walls, floors to be available for TS2 players, either as downloads or as a stuff pack.

Once again, I must say that the developers have done a good job with the new walls and floors as they give a different feel to my simming experience.

I'm finding it hard. Can I cheat?

Not really. According to the readme file, the only cheats that are included are "move objects on" and cheats for movie making. As you cannot take pictures or make movies, I think this was an oversight on the part of the developers.

Written at 03:57 on Friday 16 February 2007 by Andy.

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