Sims 2 Nightlife: Take a Trip Downtown

Appealing to the voyeur in all of us, Maxis' Sims series and its sequel, Sims 2, has been extremely successful.  No one could have ever guessed that watching little computer people (sims) go about their daily lives could be so utterly fascinating' or addicting, but PC gamers have shown through sales of the game that playing 'normal everyday life' can indeed be exciting.

The premise of Sims 2 was simple.  The player could control their little sims in a household (or create their own sims with a highly customizable section for creating characters) and fulfill their daily needs, keeping them well-fed, comfortable, energized, entertained, and clean.  Different sims had different life aspirations, such as romantic aims, popularity, knowledge, or career success, and each individual had certain goals they needed to fulfill to build up to their aspiration.  The game boasted of hours of entertainment, as you could control your sim to do everything from watching TV, working out, showering, studying, and 'woohoo-ing' (the Sims term for bedroom antics).  Then if that one family got tiresome, you could create more sims, move them into the neighborhood, and have them all visit each other and interact. 

Sims could also go to work, train their skills, and earn simoleons (money), which in turn could be used to buy more items, ranging from flower vases to pianos and showers.  For the builder fans, there was also the option of building and remodeling your house, with many customizable options, from wallpapers to carpets.

The level of detail was astounding, especially for the graphics.  If your sim plays a video game, you can zoom in and actually watch the moving screen.  If your sims are playing chess, you can watch them play an actual game.  If you install a mirror in the bathroom, it will actually reflect whatever is facing it.  Even more amusing to watch are the sims lively expressions, which change even as they're talking in their gibberish language.

The newly released expansion pack, Nightlife, takes your sims out of the house and into the bustling nightlife of downtown.  Sims can now ask each other on dates, or gather a group together for an outing.  The default downtown offers plenty of different experiences, from karaoke clubs to parks to 50s diners to lounges to bowling alleys, or you can create your own little downtown with the customization option.  Go on a light-hearted trip to the clothing store, or schmooze it up at the swanky nightclub the possibilities aren't endless, but they're pretty varied.  Nightlife now allows sims to bond much more easily, especially if your eager to get two of your sims together quickly.  An added feature to the game now gives every sim turn-on and turn-offs (so you can better figure out what makes them happy), and rates chemistry between sims with a picture of a lightning bolt.  When dating now, there is a date meter that rates how it's going, along with a display of your date's wants.  If you're successful, you could get a bouquet of roses at your door the next day, and if you're not, you can get a pretty furious sim and a bag of' well, something not as pleasant.  Also added to the game is a new pleasure aspiration for your hedonistic sim. 

Two cute but rather useless additions are the vampire and the cars.  There is a master vampire that prowls the downtown night, looking to turn unwary sims into creatures of the night.  This is pretty rare, however, and once your sim is a vampire, it can't function in daylight, which creates problems if it has a job or wants a good social life.  However, it's definitely a way to make more unique sims, and coffin pranks are always funny to watch.  The cars are also a snazzy addition for those sims who want out of the house pretty often (and have the simoleons to pay for it), but there are only five options to choose from, and there's still the reliable taxi.  Also handy is the 'influence' feature, which was introduced with the first Sims 2 expansion, University.  You can gain influence points and use them to influence other sims to flirt or cook, among other things.

The expansion does not fix the problems of the original game, however.  Sims still get sidetracked often and wander off to stare blankly into space, which can get pretty frustrating if you've got your hands full trying to control a whole group.  Sometimes, you have to order a sim to do something five times before he gets around to it.  The restrictive furniture placing is also irritating for the creative interior designer.

In all, though, Sims 2: Nightlife offers much for the Sims fan.  Besides opening up a whole new world of fun with the downtown area, there are also more ways for your sims to interact, more goals to aim toward, and of course, more items to buy.  It's a good way to expand your sim experience.  And hey, who doesn't enjoy a random vampire now and then?

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