The one aspect Iâ€™ve always loathed about the Sims has been the social side of the game. In a life-simulator that prides itself on making the mundane fun, to me, building relationships seemed like something the real world actually did better.
Thereâ€™s something I despise about the mechanical queuing of communication actions, one after the other, the wait for those infernal green plus-signs. I dread the alternative; mutual red minus-signs that signal a step backwards and another turn in a process Iâ€™d sooner jump into a ladderless pool than repeat. To add insult to injury, to keep up friendly pretences I have to maintain these relationships until either of the sims â€“ please, God â€“ dies.
I wish I could say that The Sims: Nightlife offers an exciting twist on one of The Sims 2â€™s weakest elements, it doesnâ€™t, but nonetheless Sims-fans will be pleased with how this latest expansion develops the social scene.
No longer must your sims be confined to the parks and quaint watering-holes of your neighbourhood, the downtown district has arrived. Grab some buddies for dinner and dancinâ€™ in one of 30 new community lots. Getting to the hottest restaurant, bowling alley or nightclub is only a cab call away - or if you have the moolah you can take your own ride.
Finally, cars have been introduced to the world of the sims. In the face of rising petrol prices in the real world, ironically sims are no longer restricted to the carpool or school bus. Build a garage, whip out a grand or two, pick a colour, and that pimped-out sedan is all yours.
What better way to burn rubber than by picking up the girl-next-door for a night on the town. Nightlife adds new chemistry and dating features to help improve your simâ€™s love life. By simply clicking your sim and selecting â€˜scope roomâ€™, a white glow will signal which sims in the room make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Building a relationship with a chemically attracted sim proves equally painless; lightening bolt icons will appear beside communication actions that are more likely to win that sim over. It boils down to faster love-matching, and for folks like myself who canâ€™t stand the social conquest this can only be a good thing.
Asking a sim out on a date will automatically begin a dating minigame. As you slap on the charm a date-meter will register your dateâ€™s pleasure or displeasure with your efforts. The catch is that your time is limited, but as you impress her you gain more time. It makes a surprisingly enjoyable diversion, but the problem is it doesnâ€™t take prince charming to snag dream date status - Oscar the Grouch could fill that meter. The new chemistry elements make it too easy. For a date to end poorly you have to make a conscious effort to sabotage your night.
In addition, Nightlife adds a new life aspiration for your sims to choose from, the pleasure seeker. As the name suggests, the pleasure seeking sim desires luxury and comfort and hates work and stress. Unfortunately, this new aspiration is one of the weakest additions to the Sims 2. It feels like a shallow combination of the other aspirations. Itâ€™s easy to satisfy and lacks the long-term goals that make the other aspirations rewarding to play.
As expected, Nightlifeâ€™s graphics keep up the standard set by The Sims 2. The new animations are top-notch and maintain The Sims classic streak of humour; watching sims get slammed about in the new dance ball or argue at the new poker table are sure to please. The music has had a more substantial revamp, and it hasnâ€™t benefited from it. Several of the theme tunes have been unpleasantly fused with techno beats that are far from friendly on the ears.
While it is unfortunate that The Sims 2: Nightlife Expansion doesnâ€™t take larger strides to improve social interaction, it does arrive as a well-rounded expansion. Sims fans will be pleased with the addition of cars, garages and personal sim inventories. The new chemistry and dating elements choke in execution but still manage to provide fun. The new downtown is huge, and it will take many visits before you see everything the nightlife has to offer. Ultimately, Nightlife makes for a solid, if a little safe, addition to The Sims franchise. Certain to be a requisite purchase for Sim-oholics.