A game that I hold dearly in my heart, and kick-started my love for gaming (alongside the hilarious Theme Hospital); The Sims 2 was an incredible game that built on the success of the first in early every way.. Coming with features such as life stages ranging from babies to elder, an expanded Create-a-Sim and a new aspiration system, The Sims 2 brought new stuff to the table, in terms of how it is possible to improve simulation-style games.
I first remember playing The Sims 2 while I was at my Grandad’s home, making a family then only 1 hour later had already having killed one of my sims in a kitchen fire. The first time was an accident. However from then on I was hooked in being a virtual god, building homes, making sims and then playing out their lives. The freedom to create your own stories and just mess about with no overall mission over then the arbitrary aims you set yourself makes the game entirely your own.
Sometimes, you may create a new neighbourhood where you play with sim-versions of your friends and families, as well as torment the sim-versions of people you hate in real life. Who didn’t like the arrival of the Social Bunny when they reached the point of social failure, starving them to death or making them wet themselves? You may also choose to play in one of the pre-set neighbourhoods: Pleasantview (which is set 25 years after the original game); Strangerhood, which as the name would suggest is quite strange (hint: alien babies, test subject sons etc.) and finally the Shakespeare-themed Veronaville.
Then there are cheats like motherlode (which I believe everybody wishes would exist in real life) to gain tons of cash instantly, stretch your sims into lengthy aberrations that will definitely give you nightmares, or you could even prevent your favourite Sims from aging. Spawning the Tombstone of Life and Death was my favourite cheat in the game as it could enable just about anything. I remember causing complete chaos in one neighbourhood by resurrecting dead Sims and turning them into zombies with this cheat.
Of course let’s not forget EA’s penchant for taking more money out of your pocket, a number of expansions were released all adding a number of new features to the base game. The first being the University expansion, including learning about the American college system and mascots in llama costumes stripping. Later expansions included everybody’s favourite, Pets (which brought in both cats and dogs), as well as Seasons, which introduced, well, seasons plus weather and gardening. All expansions helped add even more content into what was already an excellent game. Ultimately I think the thing that defines this game as the series high at least for me is the fact that it had a distinct charm and was clearly a game that was lovingly crafted by the Maxis team, which just isn’t as apparent in its successors.