You canâ€™t teach on old dog new tricks, and by now, The Sims franchise has become a pretty tired mongrel. The Nintendo Wii has recently received a litter of games ported over from â€˜last generationâ€™ consoles, such as the PlayStation 2 and GameCube; The Sims 2 Pets is a guilty member of this money-fueled menagerie. Although it seems this dog doesnâ€™t need any new tricks to impress, as The Sims 2 Pets remains true to the original - with the obvious addition of those wacky Wii controls. If you donâ€™t already know about The Sims, then chances are this release isnâ€™t even on your radar; the game plays basically as a microcosm of our own existence: eat, sleep, work, procreate, and even â€“ on occasion - socialize.
Gameplay is, of course, where The Sims really excels, and this version retains the same time tested formula. The world you create can be as frivolous or immersive as you want. In this regard, The Sims 2 Pets stays loyal to the pack. The introduction of the pets - in the form of cats and dogs - increases the gameâ€™s variety considerably. You can teach your pets tricks, breed them, play with them and customise them to your heartâ€™s content. Careful cultivation of your pets is rewarded with Pet Points, which can be spent at the local town square for pet related goodies, such as toys and accessories.
The presentation looks a little dated due to Sims 2 Pets being a multi-platform port, and hence does not cater to the high definition gamer. The graphics are everything youâ€™d expect from a last generation title; but the textures are decent, and the character animations are routinely hilarious. The standard definition Wii presentation could alternatively prove a bonus for those whose PCs were too wimpy to run The Sims 2 smoothly. There is, however, an unfortunate amount of loading while switching through menu screens - an activity you spend most of your time doing.
Customisation has always been at the heart of the Sims, so itâ€™s a real shame that the Wii version has some issues. First and foremost, the depth and intricacy of character creation is merely a facade - in reality the options are considerably limited, with most Sims looking exactly the same regardless of ethnicity. Character creation is further confounded by two dimensional icons, which supposedly resemble custom assets for your Sims, but more closely resemble clip art. At worst these icons are indistinguishable; at best they become a trial and error mini-game.
The Wii has left a lot of waggle-weary gamers in its wake; so itâ€™s with careful skepticism that one should judge the The Sims 2 Pets control scheme. Iâ€™m happy to report that despite its much maligned history, the Wii controls thoroughly suit this game. The Wii remote and nunchuck are used in tandem - the nunchuck acts as the camera control, and the Wii remote as the cursor. This combo proves a successful substitute for mouse control, and is easy to manipulate. Every button (even the reclusive â€˜Câ€™ button on the nunchuck) is assigned a function, including the D-Pad. Despite the abundance of buttons, the controls never become too cumbersome.
The Sims 2 Pets offers nothing significant for veteran Sims fans; and unfortunately it could also be daunting to newcomers (i.e. the supposedly â€˜casualâ€™ Wii market) by being bogged down in minutiae. But if youâ€™re somewhere in the middle, or are able to stomach tutorials, it can be grasped rather competently. The Wiiâ€™s control scheme is the most noteworthy improvement over previous Pets ports; but conversely, the Wiiâ€™s hardware limits the presentation from being enhanced as successfully. In the end, The Sims 2 Pets may not win any new fans due to its complex micromanagement and lack of instant accessibility. Yet for those who never tried The Sims 2 first time around, this is an opportune jumping-in point; and despite the â€˜Petsâ€™ addition to the title, this is ultimately a solid iteration of the The Sims 2 - possibly as â€˜PC-perfectâ€™ a clone as weâ€™ll get in this console cycle.