Power to the virtual people

PUBLISHED : Monday, 18 October, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 18 October, 2004, 12:00am

Product: The Sims 2
Price: HK$270 [normal CDR pack]; HK$300 [special DVD pack, with a free bonus CD]; HK$330 [special photo frame box set]
Pros: Addictive; new 3D engine and stunning graphics; fluid and realistic movements; enhanced viewing allowing zoom in and out for 360-degree view; updated interface; easy to learn
Cons: Slow and older systems with less than 512MB of Ram can expect difficulties; lack of choice for furniture and house decoration; not all the modifying options available in the Sims 2 Body Shop

Developed by Electronic Arts-owned Maxis, The Sims 2 is the latest version of its best-selling lifestyle simulation game for PCs. The sequel to The Sims remains based on the original's four-year-old plan with a range of new features. It lets you create simulated people, control their interactions and work towards short- and long-term goals.

The 'Create a Sim' engine allows you to control what your sims look like, so you can make identifiable versions of yourself, your friends and enemies or movie stars.

In addition to appearance and personality traits, you choose what your sim's aspiration will be. You can choose from Family, Popularity, Fortune, Knowledge and Romance. This determines what your sim's long and short term goals will be.

The introduction of genetics is a wonderful bonus. It follows players' sims through their lifecycles, from cradle to grave. Players' sims can now sire children, who will continue to pass on their genes. The sims can own more than one house in The Sims 2 and will only age when you play them. If you plan to create two families, you need to play them both if they are to age at the same rate. The ageing process can be turned off if you wish.

Another interesting point is being able to literally move house. If you want your cute-girl sim to interact closely with a particular bachelor sim, just pick up her house and make her a next-door neighbour.

The game requires a 800 MHz or faster PC running Windows XP/ME/2000/98 with 256MB of Ram, 8x CD/DVD drive, at least 3.5GB of hard disk space and DirectX 9.0 compatible sound/video drivers. Video card must have 32MB with at least ATI Radeon 7200 and NVIDIA GeForce 2 T&L capable chipsets. But meeting the minimum requirements cannot bring you the full experience.