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PC Preview - 'Singles - Flirt Up Your Life'

by Alanix on May 23, 2004 @ 1:20 a.m. PDT

The goal in Singles - Flirt Up Your Life is to develop a relationship between Mike and Linda, which is only possible if both are happy. What kind of relationship it becomes is up to the player, there are five different aspects: Romance, Friendship, Sex, Fun and also Trouble - not doing the housework WILL cause friction! A positive relationship between the couple will start from friendship, moving to flirting, intimacy and finally 'erotic' actions!! BEWARE: Adult content ahead!

Genre : Simulation
Developer : Rotobee
Publisher : Eidos
Release Date : May 25, 2004

What?!?! There is a game where I can play as a sullen, Eddie Vedder wannabe (played by Matt Dillon) who is sexually adored by a young and firm Bridget Fonda? I can be a self-centered video dater with dreams of Cabo San Lucas? Wow! Oh. Wait. Not that Singles. Great soundtrack though, but I digress…

Let me begin by confessing something to you. I am a closet Sims fan. I hate to admit that I can get hopelessly lost in a game that has no fire button. Although I will confess to building a 2x1 room around a sim that had nothing in it but an espresso machine. He peed on the floor and screamed until he died. Who says there’s no fire button? (Wicked cackle)

There is something oddly attractive, however, about a game whose purpose is simply to survive in a modern world. I played The Sims for hours on end, but as I have a loving wife and daughter, I have never been able to apply the much celebrated nude patch. Hot Date almost got me there, but Singles – Flirt up Your Life is not your father’s life sim. As a matter of fact, when I did my pre-gameplay homework, the first screenshot I found showed an aureole! Not the full…er… Monty, but it was on the verge, man!

Risqué games are few and far between, unless the raciness is a minor point of the plot, like the hookers and strippers in the Duke Nukem games or the GTA series. The last really good, fun, ribald series was Sierra’s immortal (or should that be immoral?) Leisure Suit Larry games. The main goal was to get your ashes hauled. Since sex and love are among the most important goals of our lives, why not make them the true center of a sim, instead of simple cutscene motivation?

As I began my first story mode, I chose a charming lad named Mike and a sultry femme fatale named Natasha as my reality show roommates

I had planned to do a large paragraph here detailing the different females and males available for you to interact with/as, but when push comes to shove, it really doesn’t matter. You take two people, and yes, there are homosexual and lesbian combinations available for which I give mad props to Rotobee for not pandering to either the conservative right, by banning such same-sex unions, but also not collapsing to the extreme left by over-advertising the selfsame couples. I had no idea of these implications when I played the full version of the game, and I was neither shocked nor dismayed by this realistic portrayal of contemporary mores. You control (or more aptly guide) your people through their daily lives. Their first waking moment to their last sigh before drifting off into dreamland is as controllable as you wish it to be. It initially appears that sex is the only goal here, but as hard as you try to bed the roommate, they always have a good reason not to bed down with you.

Here begins the standard formula of life sims. Wake, eat, work, stay clean, happy and aware, and try to procreate. If you have ever played EA’s juggernaut, you’ll know the controls by rote. But the overall ideals are a little more mature.

Singles isn’t one of those cheesy date-sims that allow you force your avatars to shag away at will. Your significant other won’t give you the green light unless all of their needs have been met. Status bars reflect your character’s romance, relationship and sensuality levels, as well as the standard energy, hunger, body and other human statistics.

If your SO needs more fun, you might try your hand at telling jokes or teasing your partner. If romance is a sore spot, a candlelit dinner can work wonders. An erotic snuggle from behind loosens your others’ inhibitions, and gossiping makes you feel more integrated as a couple.

Truth to tell, when I got this assignment, I was a little depressed. Why, I thought, would my esteemed Editor-In-Chief send me a game that was so obviously aimed at the I-Live-In-My-Parent’s-Basement-And-Think-I-Still-Have-A-Shot-At-Lucy-Lawless crowd?

Now, I’ll step off my soapbox and talk about the game as, in and of itself, a game.
I did my installation, chose my characters and began playing. I knew how to control everything instinctively from playing that other sim game. The story mode began with Mike and Natasha (in my case) forced, by economic constraints, to share a flat in an obviously European setting. You each have jobs, needs and responsibilities, and it is vital that both characters are doing what they need to do.

As I played single-handedly (and keep your dirty thoughts to yourself whaddaya say?) it became clear that one avatar was happier, or hornier, or whatever than the other. Singles includes a long- and short-term metering to gauge your success (or failure) at forming a good union.

This leads me to my next thought:
Singles is a great Couples game!

Just as I was beginning to feel deja-vu’ed by this experience, my wife, (Toprider for those savvy with Wordox), started sharing ideas and information, and by the time you can say “Damn, I wish we were as buff, stacked and cut as these buggers!” we were sharing the mouse and keyboard, and getting these little folks closer and closer to boinkification! I gotta tell you, we had a ball! You see, she is the resident Sims-tress in the house. She can turn a neighbor into a toad before you can wiggle your nose like Samantha Stevens. I, on the other hand, am the micromanager of the family, being weaned on Civilization and Chaos Overlords.

We started talking about different ways to go about boinkage. Should we make out on the sofa first, then try to talk ‘em into bed, or just pop the question and head for afternoon delight right there on the kitchen floor? We both got a “buzz” from this erotic matchmaking that carried over into our own evening. And no parent’s basement, either!

Then it finally happened! We had found the perfect combination of romance, love, respect, happiness and friendship necessary to get them making “the beast with two backs”. Of course, we were engaged first. Gotta keep up some semblance of family values post-Janet Jackson’s “wardrobe malfunction”

To refer to Singles as the porno Sims wouldn’t be fair, but I must confess, it wouldn’t be that far from the truth. I must say though that this NC-17 guilty pleasure looks amazing! The camera is as close to flawless as I have seen, although I would have liked to be able to move the camera independent of a character’s POV.

Also shared from the “other title” are the gibberish voiceovers, and the entire GUI. MODers will be happy to know that tweaking the sound files is very easy, making for hilarious or disgusting variations on a theme The music is right out of those cheesy late 70’s-early 80’s low-budget “mature” films, and had me chuckling at first, but became mind-numbingly repetitive.

I believe that most of the reasons Jerry Springer has been on television over 13 years are that people want, and in a way need to see people whose lives are much worse off than theirs. You can be on welfare, living in your sister’s driveway, but at least you aren’t a lesbian Nazi devil-worshipper who has been abducted by alien Elvis impersonators and forced to perform karaoke for Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster while your thirteen-year-old son sells crack to the priest who is molesting him. And subsequently, I believe that people play The Sims and games of this ilk to have a level of control that somehow eludes them in their everyday lives.

If you don’t want to spend a hundred bucks or more to get caught up on all of the Sims expansions, Singles is a viable alternative. I would recommend it most highly to couples who both enjoy gaming. At least, until the new Leisure Suit Larry game hits shelves.


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