With every expansion, there are bugs. Sorry, but that is the way it is. However, with this patch, it feels like an insect infestation. There has already been a patch to try and fix them but by the time I knew about it, it had been withdrawn because it seemed to create more problems than it fixed, especially when it came to sewing. When I started writing my notes for this part of the review, I had hoped a patch would have been there on the official website before I came to post it. Apparently not. Anyway, here is a list of what I have experienced in the past month of FreeTime gameplay.
Aging - I was somehow under the impression then when a playable sim aged, they were able to age three non-playable sims who they were friends with. Well, I've seen it happen when sims have become elders but only once with transitions to other life stages, and none at all when I've sent teens to college and they've come out as adults. I guess Randy London is going to be the first kiss for the same families for generations to come unless it is fixed.
Custom Clothing - This is apparently a new bug caused from the "blink and you missed it" patch that came out about 3 weeks ago where custom outfits created with the sewing machine do not work for all skin tones or are not rendered properly. Even I'm not sure what the new problem was, but the release of the patch hinges on them finding out a solution to this one.
Draftsman's Table - I mentioned this before but I have checked it again and found the problem to be still there. Once you draft a scene, which requires pressing the "C" key to capture the area within the green lines, every normal snapshot or screenshot that you take after that for that house, will come out in "draftsman form", which is a monochrome line drawing. This is ANNOYING !! I have found that the only way to stop this continuing is to exit and restart the game.
Forgetful Hobby Club Leaders - I have a sim with Level 7 in Cuisine and they recently moved house. When they were preparing their first meal in their new home, the telephone rang. Apparently, Sue's Secret Kitchen had noticed that my sim might be interested in Cuisine. Don't they check their membership register? My sim had been in possession of a membership card for weeks and had hoped those nuisance calls had come to an end.
Licking It Clean - I am not sure whether to class this as a bug or whether it is in fact a change in the gameplay. Regardless of the level of neatness, sims are now given the option to lick clean dirty plates.
More than Just Friends - I have seen this on a few occasions. People who are "just friends" and sometimes not even that well acquainted have greeted each other or said goodbye to each other with romantic kisses. If they are "friends with benefits", is there something my sims are not telling me?
Routing - A lot of time, I am finding sims will not go and do what I tell them to do. What seems the most logical route is what sims consider last. For instance, the telephone rang in the Aspir's house. Victor was stood next to the telephone in the main house. He walked all of the way over to Luis's "granny annexe" and answered it there instead. Go figure! Also, when I instruct them to do something, frequently requests time out in a second or they just say that they can't get there even if they are stood right next to the object or person. I am also finding them frequently to be lacking in the initiative to do something when they have finished their instructions. This is especially common with non-playable sims. For instance, a sim brings someone home from work. The guest just stands in the middle of the road and often needs calling into the house before they decide to do anything.
Sparks & Bubbles - This is an amusing glitch that I have seen twice. In one case, a sim went to work bubbling and another sim went to work sparking. The first one had been in the bubblebath before he cut it short to get the carpool and the second had been working on the body of his restorable car before cutting it short. Both these sims kept bubbling and sparking for hours after they came back from work.
Slow Skilling - I have noticed this with Pottery & Sewing as it seems to take a great deal longer to get to just the Bronze talent badge. Comments have been made on the official exchange that this seems to be the case with all of the talent badges, although I have not really noticed.
Stolen Videogame - Frequently, my sims come home from work or school and I am told they have brought a video game with them and request I buy a computer or console. As I know that they haven't, I am completely bewildered by this one.
Telephone Calls - I have mentioned this before and I am going to mention it again and I probably will mention it one more time before this review finishes. The calls from the hobby clubs are driving me up the wall!!! If you watch a movie on TV, the telephone will ring. If you have eat some leftovers from the fridge, the telephone will ring. Play "red hands" with a family member, the telephone will ring. Need I go on? If interest starts to fall, the club is quick to remind you of it, nagging you to do something to get it back up. As it seems to be regular gameplay, it can't be turned off as hobbies are not optional. This is VERY irritating and according to the official exchange, I am not alone in feeling this way. ARGHHHH.
Twins - Earlier in this review, I commented about how it seemed the birth rate had dropped. I was wrong. The incidence of having twins seems to have dramatically increased. Yes, I've noticed that there is a "Super Fertility" at the top of the Family Ladder in Aspiration Benefits, but none of my sims have had that. Neither is any pregnant sim eating cheese cake nor are they following the simburban legend of snacking only on cookies. My families are now struggling to cope with this epidemic and as the behaviour patterns are still floored whereby your household sims are constantly waking the newborn up to give them a bottle, despite them having had one just an hour earlier, the kitchen floor is strewn with empty and half empty bottles.
Unhappily Married - Usually, only the Romance sims had bad memories of getting engaged or married. Now, every type of aspiration has bad memories, even the Family sims.
As you can see, though, although some may be glitches and some might just be my installation, this is really affecting my enjoyment of it all and remaining "in the zone" myself.
Normally at this stage, I'd be telling people how I have really enjoyed this expansion pack and recommending you buy it at your earliest convenience. As a completist, I am glad I have it and I really do like a lot of the features, but as a gameplayer, I have some very mixed feelings about FreeTime and I do not recommend this as an essential addition to your gameplay.
A lot of work has gone into this expansion pack and I do like the new careers, objects and interactions. I feel a bit more work could have been done to the families of Desiderata Valley, but they do have some interesting plotlines and the neighborhood has a lot of openings for new families. However, I find FreeTime to be a concept that has tried just too hard and that some of its elements are too intrusive into the running of a sim's normal life. From previous expansions, going to university, buying a car, going downtown, running businesses, having pets, going fishing, growing vegetables and booking vacations are all optional and your sim's personal choice. Your sim could even live at home without a care on the world and the sims do not have their lives changed unless they choose it to be the case. However, that choice has been taken away from them.
In the way that Jar-Jar Binks spoilt the "Star Wars" prequel trilogy for me and a lot of "Star Wars" fanatics and afficionados, some annoying features in this expansion pack have spoilt it for me.
When I play "The Sims 2", I like the get into the zone myself. I do not want distractions from bugs and glitches and I do certainly not want the hobby clubs to be telephoning my sims at all hours of the day and night, interrupting them in whatever they are trying to do.
Sims Division, tone this down, please, or give our sims caller display and voice mail.
I did enjoy this expansion and it helped rekindle my interest in The Sims 2 which has been rather lax recently so that is in some respects a good thing. However, I have not been focussing on all of the new features. I do not consider this expansion pack to be a lifetime obsession and it is certainly more than a passing fad as certain features and welcome returns are for the betterment of the game. For better or for worse, if you have this expansion added, it will make your game different and hopefully with the release of a patch, you will have a lot of good times with this EP. Until that happens, though ...
Don't answer the phone!
When I started writing this review, part of the community was expecting it to be the last expansion for TS2. I am glad to find this is not the case as it has been confirmed that "Apartment Life" due out in the Autumn (Fall) may in fact be the last one.
If FreeTime had been the final expansion, I would have applauded it for making some changes to how the game is but I would not give it a standing ovation as some of the changes are not working properly and I do not believe it is a fitting conclusion for the end of the series. Those irritating phonecalls and other bugs have really spoilt my enjoyment.
I am waiting for a patch to help me appreciate this performance more but I believe "The Sims 2" needs one final act to bring this series to an end and hoping have us giving it a standing ovation. Be assured, the zoners will be keeping you informed of what is happening.
Please come back soon as our own MissWendy will be critically reviewing the newly released "Kitchen & Bathroom Stuffpack"
Until next time, take care of your sims ... and each other.
Written at 03:03 on Monday 10 March 2008 by