Sure, video games are great. They've got superheroes, spies, and sword-wielding warriors. But don't these guys ever stop and use the bathroom? The Sims series cuts out the heavy artillery and answers that question. The Sims 2, now making its console debut, is no exception. With both a story and a freeplay mode, the game entrusts players with the fragile well-being of numerous simulated lives. Each character has personal aspirations, wants, fears. It's up to you to keep track of your sims' needs. At first, your godlike powers only extend to the sim you've created but the game eventually allows you to control multiple sims at once. In order to do this successfully, it's important to make the most of the title's dual control system, which offers players the choice between "classic" (PC-style) and "direct" (console-adapted) controls.
The Sims 2 has undergone a few big changes since it originally shipped for the PC in September of 2004. The console version lacks some important elements of sim development; for example, characters can no longer age or have children. It also supports a considerably less intelligent AI. True, the console release has exclusive items, a revamped story mode, and a supposedly exciting new cooking system, but these consolation prizes do little in the face of long load times and gameplay delays. Plus, saving requires an unbelievable amount of free memory space. It hardly seems worth it for a game that, unlike its worthy predecessors, can't even call itself addictive.
Beyond the game: Sims come in all shapes and sizes. Heck, they can even be aliens. To ensure your sim is right for you, the game offers a wide range of customization fields, from personality to body type to clothing. The more outrageous items need to be unlocked, but even on a new file the possibilities for silliness abound.
Worth playing for: The sometimes bizarre but always hilarious opportunities for "socializing" with fellow sims. Mad? Slap someone with a fish. Enamored? Get married in a wedding dress that only a drag queen could love. Just feeling frisky? Make "woohoo" beneath the sheets of a heart-shaped double bed.
Frustration sets in when: Chores you would avoid doing in real life become the nagging center of gameplay. Someone has to wash the dishes. Someone has to pay the bills. Someone even has to scrub the cockroaches out of the toilets.
Final judgement: For console gamers or Sims newcomers, Sims 2 can be a pleasant, though not particularly inspiring, introduction to the series. But if you're looking for the full-on Sims experience, the PC version is the only way to go.