Publisher: Electronic Arts
N Amer - 06/11/2007
The Sims 2: Pets Review
Ports mean something else for Nintendo Wii. If you drop a game on that platform, players expect it to utilize the Wii remote in an improved way. They demand more intuitive actions, and count on a superior control style to what they could have had on the other consoles. (That has proven to be true with the multi-platform release Spider-Man 3, whose Wii controls were king.)
Spring and summer seem to be the time of year when developers bring last year’s hits to Wii. First Mortal Kombat showed up. Soon Resident Evil 4 will appear on store shelves. And today gamers can stop by their local retailer for The Sims 2: Pets. It’s the same as the other Pet editions available but with one significant and magnificent change: the slower-than-a-mouse analog controls are out, and the more-accurate-than-most motion functionality is in.
A Remote Experience
The Sims 2: Pets is a very specific simulation game that focuses on the tiniest of elements. You can build a house from scratch and customize every feature imaginable. Put up walls with different textures (brick or siding); lay down carpet, tile, or wood flooring; purchase several different types of chairs, tables, beds, and couches; and entertain your sims by acquiring TVs, PCs, and old arcade machines. These features work toward keeping your sims entertained and well rested. They also need to eat different foods – either homemade, from a vending machine, or anywhere else they can get their hands on some grub. Sims must choose a career path, interact with others to satisfy their social needs, and repeat the basic cycle daily until the end of time.
That is only part of the process and only a fraction of the fun. The Pets edition allows you to bring home a four-legged friend, each of which has their own set of needs that must be fulfilled in order to keep them satisfied. Cats and dogs come in a variety of breeds, and they too must interact with other animals to stay happy. Of course, you don’t have to worry about your sim (human character) taking a leak on the carpet! Unless you forget to install a toilet in your home or neglect to direct your sim to the nearest public restroom, in which case your sim might not be able to contain itself any longer.
On the PC these and all other actions are performed with the trusted mouse and keyboard. On PlayStation 2 and other previous consoles all functions have been tied to each controller’s analog sticks. As someone who generally prefers the console game experience, I was pleased with what the developers did for The Sims 2: Pets last fall. The Dual-Shock 2 and other controllers worked very well. However, if you play the Wii version, there will be no going back. Technically this is the same game as the others, and if you have another version there isn’t much of a reason to own this one. But the Wii controls, though not perfect in all aspects, are the best of any version available for a console.
Point. Select. Drag. Seamless!
The Wii remote is great, but one thing that bugs me about it is that most games have a flaw that could be described as a sticky mouse. For example, when you point the remote away from the screen (and thus lose your cursor / arrow pointer), the game takes a couple of seconds to adjust when you bring the remote back. This is a pain for many reasons, firstly because it takes you out of the experience, and second because it makes you wait for something that players are not used to waiting for. (Kind of like how satellite and digital cable change channels slower than standard cable – it just doesn’t make sense.)
But as it turns out, the flaw is with how the games are being made and not with the console. This is confirmed by The Sims 2: Pets, which is near flawless in its remote movement. The remote is sensitive without going crazy, and manageable enough to move around the room, set the remote down, and pick it up and instantly start playing again without delay. The remote is especially effective when building or adjusting your home. It works the same as what you’d expect from a mouse and keyboard setup. To build a new wall, press the A button and move the remote to the location of the screen where you want the wall to end. The cursor is very accurate and easy to follow, even if you frequently point the remote away from the screen. Menu selections are just as intuitive. Specific items are selected with the analog stick (this game uses both the remote and nunchuck attachment), but all other items are accessed with the remote.
Camera control and world movement is still imperfect, but that’s a flaw that seems to go with the Sims series and not this version specifically. While most tasks are easy to learn, if you haven’t played this game before, it might take a few minutes to learn how to move and adjust the camera (both of which are tied to the thumbstick).
Wii owners who missed The Sims 2: Pets on GameCube should wait no more that the game is on Wii. With no new, groundbreaking content to speak of, you might want to pass if you’ve already played through the game on another console. Either way, this version controls better than the rest, and will make it impossible to go back to the old control style after experiencing the game on Wii.
Review Scoring Details for The Sims 2: Pets
The Sims 2: Pets offers the same top-notch sim management as before – the difference now is that you have a great control scheme and vastly improved selection and movement sensitivity that create a more seamless gaming experience.
Still a good looking game, but there weren’t any noticeable enhancements made for the Wii edition. As far as the visuals are concerned, this appears to be the same as the GameCube version.
After more than six months you’d think The Sims 2: Pets’ quirky, The Postal Service-style soundtrack would get annoying. But it keeps growing on me. I don’t know that I could listen to this music outside of the game, but inside it’s very effective at setting that unusual Sim mood.
The sim-lish versions of rock and pop tracks (like the Pussycat Dolls’ “Don’t Cha”) are amusing the first time you hear them. After that they’re just annoying.
Learning to play The Sims is quite an undertaking. Excluding the house building elements, which only seems overwhelming, you’ll have to learn how to lead your sim toward life goals, to perform daily chores, to make friends with nearby sims, to take care of your pets, and to make sure they eat, sleep, and shower enough.
A port of last year’s game that’s been fortified (or should I say Wii-ified?) with motion controls. But it’s not a “new” game.
As a port, The Sims 2: Pets isn’t anything out of the ordinary. But for a new audience, there has never been a better time to try EA’s mammoth sim series. It’s just as deep and addictive as before – and now comes with a superior control style that only Wii can deliver.
As a port, The Sims 2: Pets isn’t anything out of the ordinary. But the new Wii-perfected control style makes this the best console version available.
Reviewer: Louis Bedigian
Review Date: 06/13/2007