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 Sims 2: Pets
When it was released on the PC in 2001, few would have imagined that The Sims would become as big a hit as it has. The simple premise of making characters and building the world they lived in proved popular with reviewers and gamers around the world. Word-of-mouth quickly spread amongst forums around the world and after it had ensnared millions of regular gamers it also entranced millions who had never shown an interest in gaming. The first game went on to become the biggest selling PC title ever and the dozen or so expansion packs that have followed have ensured it has stayed in the top ten in most regions for the past five years.

The inevitable jump to consoles wasn’t particularly well received by critics, although they still sold well. Semi sequels Bustin’ Out and The Urbz came and went without adding much to the series or taking time to iron out the faults of the original. Shortly after the true sequel was released on PC, The Sims 2 arrived on every console with a pulse. It was far more playable than its predecessors but still paled in comparison to the PC version. Now the third Sims 2 PC expansion pack ‘Pets’ has been ported to all formats and it suffers from all the same problems.

Trying to shoehorn the controls and content of the PC game onto a home console format is never going to work, at least not in this case. Controlling your Sim and building his or her environment is just frustrating without a mouse and keyboard and the slowdown in the PS2 version doesn’t help matters. There are a lot of objects and furnishings available in the home version but without the possibility of customisable content, your Sim’s life feels less personal.

Creating your Sim and their pet, is still pretty fun, probably more so than the game itself and the interaction between the two can be amusing. Your pet has its own requirements you need to see to in order to move the story mode along and these are varied depending on your pets personality. More work could have been done on the pet AI however as their behaviour doesn’t seem to be affected much by their personality traits; games like Nintendogs and Black and White have shown how advanced AI can help make a (virtual) animal in your care more appealing. The whole pet dynamic does change the way you need to play but it feels too tacked on and isn’t a reason enough to buy it if you already have one of the other games.

The pets do look good though, and the presentation as a whole is of a high quality, It’s just a shame the gameplay is so tedious. Asking console owners to shell out full whack for what is basically a meagre port of a cut-price PC expansion pack is pretty poor on EA’s part. Perhaps this was released to jump on the Nintendogs bandwagon but it doesn’t add anything to the series or the Sim genre.

If you have The Sims 2 on PC and you are an avid fan then you will no doubt enjoy the expansion pack, but there are too many problems with the console versions to recommend them over the PC one. The DS port is the only one that doesn’t suffer from control issues as much but lacks the content of its bigger brothers. If you don’t have a PC and want to play this sort of game you’d be better off with something like Nintendogs or Animal Crossing.

Hopefully EA will give up attempting direct ports of The Sims after this game, it should have been neutered long ago…

4 out of 10

Buy Sims 2: Pets now at Play.com
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