PC REVIEW: THE SIMS 2: OPEN FOR BUSINESS

Now you can rush home from your real job, to work at your fake job in The Sims universe. You might even want to call in sick. by Daemia

March 17, 2006 - As the third expansion pack for The Sims 2, Open for Business, takes us where we've never been before in the Sim's world - the world of work. In this game you are an entrepreneur of a business of your own design. You'll have employees, merchandise, a business location - and hopefully lots of money.

In some ways you could call this game an economic sim, but that sounds so conservative, sterile and boring. Keep in mind that although you are about to enter into the business world, you are still in The Sims universe. The gameplay is open-ended and you're self-employed which makes for a lot of freedom. You'll interact with a lot of eccentric characters and get involved with a lot of interesting situations. There's never a dull moment since you have total control over your destiny.

You can be in the business of selling goods, services or both. You're only restricted by your imagination - and your financial situation. Although you may be limited by funds, there are ways to raise more capital to purchase bigger and better operations.

Create your character and then choose your business. You can open up a restaurant, bakery, salon, flower shop, electronics retail store, toy shop or clothing store. You are not limited to just one business. You can decide to open a bakery inside your toy store if you think that will generate more customers.

Once you decide on a business, you must choose a location. Perhaps you can work out of your home for a while and save money on rent or not having to purchase a building. Maybe you can get by just using the telephone or a computer. When you generate enough income you might want to move into a more expensive location. You can even purchase the lot and speculate on real estate. There are tons of items such as desks, shelves, lighting fixtures and a myriad of other designs and details that you can purchase to make your store, shop or office stand out. Making your place look good is essential to success since customers will be drawn to places that they like. Through interfaces you will be able to keep tabs on customers' likes and dislikes. If you have a nice place with good prices and a good sales team you will generate customer loyalty. Your establishment will receive stars, like a hotel rating system, which will rank your business higher as you receive more stars. Not only will this bring in more customers but you will receive more bonuses such as lower wholesale prices and business perks which range from motivational lectures that improve employees' performances to upgrading employees skills and talents to create and design new items for sale.

In each business you will choose items from a catalogue that you can purchase at wholesale prices and then sell them for more money in your retail store or shop. This is the essence of business - buy low and sell high. But if your prices are too high you might not get many customers. You can change the prices of items and even put some "on sale" with prices so low that you might even be selling them for a loss, but in the hopes that it will increase traffic so that customers may purchase other more expensive items that aren't on sale.

Employees can be hired, trained, promoted and fired. Some are skilled in different areas and it's your job to exploit them. You can watch their interaction with customers and while you can't directly control them, you can click on their interface and give them some direction. This is called management - or babysitting as I like to call it. Some employees will be walking around in a confused state. Not uncommon if they are under 25. You have to set them straight by giving them a task such as stocking shelves or cleaning the place up.

Customers will come in with "Buy" bars over their heads. The higher the Buy bar, the more interested they are in purchasing something. Your sales employee's ultimate job is to raise that bar. If their social interaction skills are poor, that Buy bar may go down and you'll lose a sale. Salespeople with such poor skills are subject to be fired before they lose you more customers.

During an employee/customer interaction, if you see the potential sale waning, you might want to activate your salesperson "dazzle" command, in which they genuinely excite the shopper into purchasing an item. This is a skill not all of your employees have. At the same time you might want an employee to do a hard sell. This is risky as it might upset a loyal customer but it's almost guaranteed to make a sale. Risk is the name of the game in any business and you'll have to asses a variety of risks to achieve some level of success in business - or blow it all to hell by making the wrong decision.

Whether you're preparing food or making toys you will want to acquire talent badges. These allow you to have above-average skills in any particular discipline. There are things such as various toys and floral arrangements that you can't buy from the catalog. You have to make them in your shop. This is where the talent badges come in. It will allow you to produce items for less and sell them in your store. Ultimately it makes your entire enterprise more valuable allowing you sell your business for a tidy profit which you can then invest in a bigger venture.

There are lots of stock animations that retain a lot of Sims humor. Give someone a bad haircut and watch them freak. You can even go home at the end of the business day and live a little of that original Sims life in your own home, eccentrically outfitted with all the money your business has generated.

Characters not only use the Sim-speak form of gibberish but the music, which features original artists, is also performed in Sim-speak. New Wave artists such as Depeche Mode, Howard Jones, Kajagoogoo and the Epoxies have re-recorded their hits in Sim-speak exclusively for this game. Cool.

There is just enough realism in Open for Business to make this challenging even for boring economic students, but it's still a lot of fun for Sims fans that have come to know and love the wacky characters and unpredictable situations that you run into in The Sims universe.

Features:

  • Create Thriving Businesses: Open shops selling any existing item and create your Sim's empire.
  • Be The Boss: Train employees, promote the best, and fire the rest.
  • Learn the Tricks of the Trade: Cater to different shoppers. Should your Sims use a hard sell or drop the price to close the deal?
  • Turn Talents into Cash: Go from Tinkerer to Master, craft toys, arrange floral bouquets, or build zany robots to catch shoplifters.
  • More than 125 New Items: Stock up on essentials for your Sim's business.

By Daemia
CCC Staff Writer

Rating out of 5
The Sims 2: Open For Business (PC)
4.2
Graphics
The Sims 2 graphics are incredible, for now. They surpass the original by a mile but in a year or two even this expansion pack is going to look dated, but you already knew that.
4.4
Control
The world is your oyster. Do whatever you want with your business. Excellent cause and reaction.
4.5
Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Classic New Wave music sung in Sim-speak. You've got to hear this.
4.2
Play Value
There are so many different ways to play this game, with so many different businesses that you can mix and match, you could play this game until the next expansion pack comes out.
4.3
Overall Rating - Great
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.
System: PC
Dev: Maxis
Pub: EA
Release: Feb 2006
Players: 1
Review by Daemia

Review Rating Legend
1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid
2.0 - 2.4 = Poor
2.5 - 2.9 = Average
3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
3.5 - 3.9 = Good
4.0 - 4.4 = Great
4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
5.0 = The Best