|The Sims 2: Nightlife (2005)
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Available for: PC
Could anyone have guessed a few years back when the original “The Sims” was launched by the gang at Maxis that it would have continued on for this long? The whole enterprise stood a good chance of going right into the toilet. After all, there had been tons of “Sim” titles before it that weren’t so great – “SimAnt,” “SimFarm,” “SimEarth,” and “SimCopter” to name just a few. Could it possibly eclipse the biggest Sim title of all – “SimCity” and its various versions? You bet it could, and it did, and continues to do so.
Not that the franchise hasn’t stumbled in places. Not all of “The Sims” expansion packs were hot stuff. “Sims Vacation” was a bit of a drag, and “Makin’ Magic” almost gave the illusion that the whole thing was out of gas as the original incarnation sailed off into the sunset. Oh, and don’t even get me started on “The Sims Online” which was a complete failure as a “Sims” enterprise, and wound up being nothing more than a $9.95 a month meat market graphical chat room where people were taking their cybersexing to all new highs (or lows) with their animated selves.
But then “The Sims 2” broke down the doors for the New Sim Generation. This wasn’t just a slight overhaul; this was a v. 2.0 that was leaps and bounds better than its original namesake. It allowed you to really get into the game close up and personal, took away the ridiculous restraints of having to work seven days a week and making sure you ate and pissed enough just to keep your base happiness intact. It was more like “real life” than “The Sims” was, and therefore the whole franchise got that much creepier.
So of course to keep things rolling, Maxis and EA have started cranking out the expansion packs for “The Sims 2.” The latest of these is “Nightlife,” which I can happily say breathes all that new life into the game again that will have the fans stuck on their asses for hours at a time yet again. The best expansion sets always reinvent a game for the longevity of a certain title, not just add new bells and whistles that are strictly surface material. “Nightlife” does this in spades.
First off, there’s an all new “pleasure aspiration” that you can set for your Sims that completely allows you to live a life of goofing off and having a great time. You can also set your turn-ons and turn-offs. Maybe you like stinky women in bikinis but hate custom hair or face paint. Well, now you can get down to such nitty-gritty and make sure you really wind up with the Sim you were meant to screw around with or marry (my current Sim, named “Sacwart Butterdouche,” has managed to find a gal who eats like a pig and enjoys farting a lot – disgustingly awesome).
Like any new James Bond flick, “The Sims” expansion packs always come with a set of new goodies and gadgets to keep you excited. In “Nightlife” Maxis may have given players the ultimate toy – their very own car. Yes, at long last you are now able to own your own ride and not rely on taxis. Also available and super cool are a bowling lane, a poker table, a DJ booth, and – hot damn – a karaoke machine! You can go downtown and bowl and sing karaoke if you like, but buying these items for your own home will allow you to get better at the activities and rule when it comes down to competition time. But honestly, watching two Sims struggle through singing a cheeseball karaoke love song is downright hilarious.
There are also other groovy little additions, like when a fellow Sim calls you up to have a get together downtown, which you are then rated on for a set amount of time. Will your friend think your ideas of fun are a good time, or leave you flat out in search of better times? Well, of course, that all comes down to your own decisions, and that is always what has been “The Sims”’ greatest strength. Open-ended gameplay that preceded the much hallowed “Grand Theft Auto 3” and its similar style. Hats off to Will Wright and his team of kooks yet again, for keeping the most fascinating PC title ever full of life yet again.