Publisher: EA Games
Developer: EA Redwood Shores
N Amer - 10/17/2006
Intl - 10/19/2006
The Sims 2: Pets Review
First there was mankind – strong, powerful, and able to do many things. Then there were canines (the "dog kind") – loyal, protective, and forever man's best friend. Later there were cats – ferocious and courageous, standing ready to catch rodents. Or spend 14 hours a day on the couch, whichever seems more interesting at the time.
One of the most brilliant minds, Will Wright, took all that we know about our species and developed a game about life – all its possibilities, all its problems (going to the bathroom is such a drag!), and all its wonder (you mean to tell me I can get a radioactive oven for under two grand? Who do I make the check out to?).
Now dogs, cats, and other furry friends are entering the fray, calling for another series update – The Sims 2: Pets.
The purpose of The Sims 2: Pets is that you don't merely raise a happy, well-adjusted human or two. You're also expected to adopt and raise at least one dog or cat. Animals need not enter your family (you know, if you're one of those people), but if you pass on the pets you'll be missing out on the series' newest addition.
Cats and dogs are the main and most important species you'll encounter. Both animals wander the neighborhood, so there's a good chance your pet will find a friend or two (if you haven't already provided one by adopting more than one pet). Stray dogs can be taken in, but they'll only stay if they're taken care of. Strays have survived a tough life on the streets, and they're not about to stay with a human that makes life even worse.
This means feeding, cleaning, and playing with your pets – all of them – regardless of how they've been acquired. They need to sleep, feel loved, go to the bathroom, and be comfortable in whatever environment you provide. Your comfort level differs from your pets'. Whereas humans need a clean living space with a couch, chairs, a bed, etc., your dog only needs a small space to sleep. Any other spot inside or out can be used to relax or play, so long as it's clean.
Where the needs/wants of humans and dogs really differ is in their last happiness category: room (comfort level for humans) and chew (things for dogs to gnaw on). Keeping a tidy place ensures your human Sims will be happy. For dogs it's important to give them bones and/or let them chew on other items. They also enjoy digging. But rather than scold them every time they've done what comes naturally to them, you could go outside and fill in the holes – making the house look decent again while giving your dog an excuse to get more exercise by digging up the holes you just filled in.
Aside from caring for your pets, there isn't a whole lot that can be done with the four-legged kind. Keep their bowls full of food, and frequently walk up to them and select the "play" command. Dogs can learn various tricks, but it's an automatic feature that's done through time – not through an interactive gameplay scheme. I like having pets in the game and wouldn't want to go back to a Sims title where they did not exist. But a lot more could've been done to immerse the player in the pet world. While humans are fully controllable (as far as a simulator is concerned), pets can only be watched over or interacted with through a human character. You can't actually control the pets yourself.
Mankind Still #1
The Sims 2: Pets may be the first to feature our favorite four-legged friends, but that doesn't mean the developers decided to skimp on who the game is really about: the simulated humans ("Sims"). Sims are just like your next-door neighbor: they seem friendly at first, but when the fridge empties – watch out! They'll become irritable, lose interest in conversation, and kill your social rating.
Social, along with seven other stats (bladder, hygiene, hunger, fun, energy, comfort, and room) are the building blocks of every Sim. Their happiness depends on the fulfillment of each stat. If a Sim is hungry, tired, and has to pee, you're in trouble. Pee first and you're liable to pass out on the bathroom floor. Eat first and you'll pass out shortly afterwards or pee on the floor or both. Attempt to sleep first and you also run the risk of peeing on the floor.
Managing a Sim is no easy task, especially if you have more than one to look after. Therefore, to get yourself out of a difficult situation like the one described, it is my recommendation that you do not let the Sims' stats get that low in the first place. It's tough, but you need to keep up.
Let’s be silly.
An in-game tutorial family lets you move into a house with a young couple and one dog. They'll help show you the ropes, explaining the basic ways to keep up with your Sims. Not everything will be revealed, so don't expect to learn it all in one sitting. Most of the game's best features are discovered through experimentation. Live a little. Pick up the phone and select "throw a party." Several Sims will drop by in search of entertainment. It gives you the opportunity to chat with neighbors, make new friends, and increase your social rating.
But be warned: Sims want equal attention. They come to parties expecting food and fun. If you don't spend enough time chatting with one particular Sim, he or she may leave unhappy. Later on, a message may come to inform you that you've lost the chance to be that Sim's friend.
Lose enough friends, fail to stay fed and get enough sleep, etc., and your Sim will start to get depressed. Depressed Sims are too often too unstable to clean. The quality of your house will drop, killing your room level while increasing your depression.
Review Scoring Details for The Sims 2: Pets
Human management squared. The Sims 2: Pets is a simulator that never quits. The Sims are in constant need of your care, whether it’s directions to the bathroom, a reminder that they need to eat, or a catalyst for having fun. You can move your Sim freely with the left thumbstick, and pause or speed up the game with the left and right shoulder buttons. Actions are menu-based, which involves a lot of pointing and clicking and not much else. That doesn’t make the game any less difficult, or any less entertaining.
Above-average character models, interesting background visuals (woods, waterfalls, etc.), and numerous pet animations. It’s identical to the PS2 visuals with one difference: the GameCube version seems less prone to wall disappearance. Objects and structures will disappear as needed to accommodate the camera’s location. This was done to keep your characters in view at all times. But they’ll reappear afterwards – something you couldn’t always count on them to do in the PS2 version.
Item placement, however, is just as sticky. It literally feels like you’re pushing against something that won’t budge. Then, after pushing and pushing, it jerks forward. Switching to the top-down grid view helps, but I find it really strange and annoying that I can’t place the items where I want to, when I want to, from whichever angle I choose.
Strangely appealing. The quirky style of both the Sim chatter (gibberish that no one can understand – except for maybe those die-hard Star Trek fans who speak Klingon) and techno-style music are an unusually entertaining mix.
You’ll have to wash, feed, play with and entertain these little rascals – and that’s just the humans! Wait till you get to the pets, who require the same kind of love an affection.
Pets are a great addition, but it would’ve been nice if they had included something a bit more interactive. It might not make much sense to have control over your cats and dogs, but why not? It would’ve been cool to make ‘em scratch, sniff, howl, meow, dig, jump, etc. That could’ve added a new dimension to the gameplay. Pet-lovers will be glad they’re here, but I can’t recommend this game solely for their inclusion.
GameCube owners won’t find a better Sims package. This isn’t the best buy for those who have played the series to death. But if you haven’t, then get on board with this animal update.
Human management squared. The Sims 2: Pets is a simulator that never quits
Reviewer: Louis Bedigian
Review Date: 11/13/2006