|System: PC, PS2, GC, PSP, DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Maxis||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: EA||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Oct 2006||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|Preview by Patrick||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Patrick Evans
The game that lets you play with a virtual dollhouse is now adding little dogs and cats to the mix. Electronic Arts announced the Sims 2: Pets on every imaginable current-gen platform (except Xbox) and PC, bringing the experience of telling your dog to quiet down from real life into the virtual world.
Pets come in all shapes and sizes in real life, and the same will be go for the Sims. Players can choose from dogs, cats, birds, and other animals as well, defining their physical appearance as well as their personalities. If that new dog of yours is too lazy and lethargic, a quick alteration to its personality can turn him into an inferno of energy and excitement. Players will also be able to design their pet with unique features and marking on their fur, skin, or feathers. Like many of the expansion sets on PC, or sequels on platform, Pets wont drastically change the format of the game. Instead, they will simply add another aspect to your Sims life that must be accounted for when playing.
The interaction between player and pet will be extensive. Players will have to make sure to take care of the pets basic needs, which encompass just about all of the human Sims needs and add a couple specific ones as well. Take, for instance, my future cat Furball. When bringing him into my already established Sim home with Dave and Kim Awesome, Ill have to make sure to accommodate Furballs need to scratch by providing him with a scratching pole. Otherwise, he will likely use Daves thousand-dollar recliner to fulfill his urge for feline destruction. These are things that cannot be solved by simply altering the pets personality, so like everything else in the Sims, planning and careful attention are vital to a pets healthy life.
There will also be plenty of chances for pet-Sim interaction as well. Sims can train their pets to do interesting tricks and stunts, and even to do work outside of the house. The tricks that are possible are pretty cartoon-ish, but the dogs are especially funny and full of character. Training is much easier when your pets needs are being met fully, so the dichotomy of caring for a pet and then working him in training is in full effect, not unlike the Sims and their statistical improvements.
Each platform will have features that are unique from the others. The PC, which is merely an expansion pack to the core Sims 2 game, will allow for a ton of customization. Pets on the PC will have their own lifecycles, with varying personalities and mood sets for each phase. That means, of course, that Fido will eventually die and the family may have to replace him. Genetics will also play a great part in determining pet breeds as well. Players will be able to mix typical breeds to create their own unique breed. Perhaps you and your friends would love a new Labradoodle in your Sim homes? After making your unique pet for your home, be sure to train him in one of three career tracks to help him pull his own weight in the house. Like another Sim roommate, your pet can advance five career levels in Show Business, Security, or Service, and earn more than enough money to buy that fancy dog house hes been eyeing.
Console owners have just as much to look forward too in the PS2, Gamecube, and PSP releases. The Central Town Park offers players an excellent place to meet other Sims and their pets and fills the basic social need of both owner and pet at the same time. At the Town Center, vendors offer everything you pet needs, from furniture and foot to clothing and accessories. How you spend your money affects what merchandise is offered as well. Vendors that you frequent more often will grow in size and carry a greater selection over time. On the Nintendo DS, players will be able to own and operate their own pet store, earning Simoleans by selling pets and accompanying accessories.
The expansion packs that have come out for the Sims 2 before now have focused on expanding the number of activities available to your Sim, and this is certainly true of Pets as well. More importantly than that, the newest expansion hopes to completely transform the overall Sims experience in the same way that real pets do for us in real life. While its a little too early to tell at this point, we are certainly looking forward to try out all the new possibilities Maxis is promising. The Sims 2: Pets will be storming the digital scene on October 17 for most platforms, including PC, and shortly thereafter in November on PSP.
By Patrick Evans
CCC Staff Writer