Stivison On The Future

The Sims 2 is coming out next month! September 17th, if you’re not already counting down. The Sims is a real tough act to follow. It’s the best-selling PC game ever, because it is hugely popular with a wide audience, regardless of sex or age or even previous gaming experience.

Which is not to say that everyone plays The Sims the same way. I like playing with a dollhouse (made easier by all the downloadable Sim decor!), while my roommate Andy likes to amass huge fortunes, and my boyfriend Stick climbs the career ladder. My girl friend Kristin used to make Sim soap operas. In a dorky dating moment, Stick and I made a Sim couple. We took turns playing, and after a couple hours of bickering about money, were happy as the Stick-Sim became a general and the Meg-Sim sold her paintings. Like I said, many different playing styles are available…

From what I’ve seen, I think Sims 2 has a pretty good chance of topping The Sims as the best-sellng game ever. In the original game, Sims could have babies but the babies would never grow up. In the new game, the babies are going to look like a combination of their parents! And they’re going to be babies, toddlers, children and then teenagers! Along the way, your sims will have milestone experiences like their first kiss, first day of school, first love, first car crash (ok, I made that one up). Personally, I can’t wait to start planning my Sims’ weddings. It’ll give me soething to talk about with my engaged girlfriend, and I can indulge my white-dress fantasy without terrifying my menfolks.

Maxis has already released the Sims Body Shop, a downloadable program to make your own Sims. When I get bored of the dozens of new heads and bodies and clothes in The Sims 2, I’ll just make my own.

And you can make movies of your Sims! I loved the photo-album option in the original sims (and, yes, I downloaded a bride’s gown and a tuxedo to make “wedding photos”), I can’t wait to try making movies! It’ll be just a like a reality show — heavily edited by the director.

The only reason that the Sims2 might not beat it’s predecessor is financial. The Sims 2 comes with pretty heavy price tag — $49.95. This is not a huge obstacle, everyone in my house found $50 for City of Heroes. It’s no more than I paid to pre-order Rome: Total War. (No one tell Stick, ok?) And it’s not a shot in the dark, it’s fifty bucks for what seems like a sure thing, The Sims only better. But it is kind of steep for the casual gamer.

And the system requirements. The EA sims 2 sites says you need a T&L-capable video card (Tramsforam and Lighting) with at least 32 MB of video RAM, and a 800 MHz processor or better, 256 MB RAM, and at least 3.5 GB of hard drive space.( To translate that from geeklish to English, you need a really good PC to run The Sims 2. Serious gamers will update their system or buy a new PC for a new game, but casual gamers won’t. I worry that the casual gamer will either not buy The Sims 2 because it won’t run, or will buy it and be frustrated with the choppy framerate.

The Sims Online, which I received as a herald of futuristic sim-societies to come, was frustrating for that very reason. I needed to upgrade my PC to play it (fortunately Grant had already set me up with an acceptable connection speed) and once I did, I found that all the other players were horny preteens. There are few things more unpleasant that cybersex between those who cannot spell “tongue”. The upcoming Sims2 is single-player, unless you want to make your own cooperative mode Stick and I did, so fans of the Sims Online may be frustrated. (I think they can find an AOL chatroom and talk about Hilary Duff, but that’s just me)

The bottom line? With less than three weeks to go, The Sims 2 looks like the most fun you can have without taking over the world.

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