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PC Review - 'The Sims 2: Nightlife'

by RumDragon on Sept. 25, 2005 @ 2:20 a.m. PDT

With The Sims 2: Nightlife, players will be able to take their Sims out to hit all the swanky hot spots in the all new downtown location and spice up their lives with an all new dating gameplay and a new life goal focused on pleasure seeking.

Genre: Simulation
Publisher: EA
Developer: Maxis
Release Date: September 13, 2005

Buy 'THE SIMS 2: Nightlife': PC

There is something endearing about the Sims franchise, which has been nothing short of a staggering phenomenon with The Sims 2 selling over a million copies in its first 10 days alone. The University expansion pack added all-new depth to the game, and now Nightlife gives your virtual people even more to do, even if it does seem to lack as much content as the previous add-on.

Nightlife is all about socializing, with the new downtown area that features 30 different restaurants, clubs, bowling alleys, and more for your Sims to visit. However, if you don't like the pre-made haunts that you are provided with, you can feel free to go modify and expand the downtown area as much as you would like, or build one from scratch. For instance, I was sitting at one of the cafes and realized what downtown was really missing: a goth club that featured a bar and a bowling alley. So within 20 minutes, Nosferatu Lanes was open for business, complete with a DJ and bartenders that were put to work as soon as my Sim visited for the first time.

Aside from the downtown area, the most important addition is that of dating, which adds a whole new depth to getting your Sims better acquainted with one other. When creating your character, you can now pick from a variety of turn-ons and turn-offs (such as vampirism, hair color, and fitness, to name a few). If you have pre-existing Sims from before the expansion, then they will be assigned turn-ons and turn-offs randomly, seeing as how you cannot modify an already created Sim. There is also a chemistry feature that can make Sims progressively hate or love each other even more. This can be a blessing or curse depending, especially if you're the type who doesn't like to hold grudges or have them held against you.

The new dating function is much like trying to get your little Sim into private school with the headmaster. You start with a timer and a progression bar to the side of the screen to tell you how well you are doing, and if this isn't enough, you can also be straightforward and ask your date what they want to see or do, or where they want to go. This feature can be a bit depressing, however, as my poor Sim found out when he asked his date what she wanted to do after a wonderfully ranked date, to which she responded that she wanted to make out with three different people. There are also group outings that function much the same way but are vastly more difficult because of the range of personalities you have to satisfy at once.

Some other noticeable features are easier aspiration goals more often, cars, and vampires. That's right – your Sim can finally transport him/herself to work. There are other interactions with the car as well, if you just want to chill out and listen to music or even make woohoo with that special someone in the backseat. Your Sim can also take the car out for a spin, which is great fun for them. Vampires are a nice addition, for those Sims who truly live for the nightlife; just don't expect to be doing any daily gardening, as you will start to smolder in the sun. However, the vampire count is rather hard to find, so if you really feel like feeding on Bob Newbie, you're going to be spending some time in the darker corners of downtown.

The graphics and novel animations of the Sims games have always been one of its greatest appeals, and Nightlife capitalizes on this aspect by adding several new and interesting objects. If you've ever wanted your Sim to run their own dance party, no problem – just stick them in the DJ booth. Of course, if you really want to get your fellow Sims pumping on the dance floor, then you need a high creativity skill.

Picture booths are another neat addition. You can put your Sims into the picture booth and pick either a normal or goofy picture, and afterwards, the picture will appear in your Sim's inventory for you to place where you will. There is another way for you Sim to bulk up now, called the Electro Dance Sphere, but you might want to train a bit even before you try the lowest setting (of which there are three), or your Sim will end up on his back or a puddle of vomit.

My favorite new object, however, is the poker table. You can sit down four Sims to play a game, and the detail is great; your Sims shuffle with flair, gloat, or hang their heads in despair, and they even roll around extra chips when bored. The other new objects are just more chairs, tables, mirrors, etc. The only special thing worth mentioning is the new Fire Jet, which is just a little metal bowl that you put on the ground, but after you light it, gouts of flame begin to fly up every few moments. Word to the wise: do not put them inside a house; my poor Sim found this out the hard way and brought my experiments to a standstill.

Sadly, there are no new careers, which I always look forward to in the expansion packs, but there is a new "pleasure" aspiration. This one functions just like the others and seems the most romantic with its hedonistic wants. Some of my aspirations were: ask out a certain Sim, go out to eat, juggle, bowl, join the criminal career, and my lifetime goal was to be at the top of the slacker career. If you're the type who seems to spend more time downtown than at home, then you should definitely check out this path. Personally, I think I'll stick with the path of knowledge, because who doesn't want to see a ghost?

The sounds for the various interfaces have been redone and are catchy as always. The sound quality is vastly unchanged though, and I do have to question a few of the techno sounding songs because they made me want to burn downtown to the ground. Otherwise, the music is, as always, a great background to the life of the Sims. You can always just add your own music if you want some variety or just don't like the default selection.

Another feature that bears mentioning is the fact that you can now see your neighbors and other environmental objects. Your Sims can now live in the middle of a sprawling forest with the roofs of your neighbors as the only thing in sight. It also helps preserve the feeling of your Sims being isolated from the rest of the community when you can look across the street and see an actual house instead of a sprawling field.

Overall, The Sims 2: Nightlife is a solid expansion, although I really wouldn't call it a must-have because it's a little light on content for its price tag. It does add some new aspects to the game, as well as new features for movie makers (the ability to max out and stop the decay of motives as well as being able to turn off thought and speech bubbles). However, there are still various A.I. problems at times with the Sims memories, and I really wish you would streamline the camera movement more. With all the expansions for the Sims, you really have to take them at face novelty value.

Score: 7.3/10

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