The Sims 2 University PC CD-ROM
Published by EA Games
Developed by Maxis
Release Date: Out Now
The Sims 2 University, an introduction.
Last year we looked at probably the most anticipated PC sequel of all time, The Sims 2. The Sims sold an incredible amount of games and its everlasting appeal was down to its expansion packs more than anything else. The sheer variety on offer with its expansion packs was amazing. Not only did you get new locations, new items and new professions you also had subtle changes in the game itself. By the time the final expansion pack was installed you had quite a different experience from when you played the original game on its own. It looks like it's going to be that way with The Sims 2 also, as in the box for the expansion we are about to look at is an advertisement for The Sims 2 Nightlife expansion that is due out this autumn. Here we have the first expansion, The Sims 2 University.
What's the game about?
As the title suggests the first expansion for The Sims 2 is all about higher education. The expansion offers a choice of 3 academic institutions to associate with your town. You can opt for Sim State University, La Fiesta Tech or Académie. You can also create your own institution if you want to. A new life stage, the Young Adult, has been added and it's this age group that will experience university life (no mature students here). To play in the university part of the game you have a choice of controlling a student that's already part of the university, creating a new student to use in a university, taking a pre-created Sim and placing them in the university or by simply taking a teen Sim from a game you already have in progress. Sims can live in dorm, residence or Greek House whilst they stay at university and they will have access to espresso bars and lounges etc. You have a choice of 11 majors at university and each one has its own study requirements and career paths that spring from it. On the topic of careers there are 4 new ones available to those who get their degree. Paranormal, Show Business, Artist and Natural Scientist are the new ones on offer. Whilst you're at university the bar that displays your Sim's age is replaced by one that displays their university progress from freshman through to senior.
What's good about the game?
The Sims 2 University expansion gives you greater control over the education, and long term prospects, of your Sim. You get the chance to take your teen Sim through university and experience a different way of life before becoming a fully fledged adult. Just like in The Sims 2 you'll need to perform to earn money and slacking off with your studies will not earn you your degree (don't worry though because it's far easier to get your degree here than in real life). If you have a teen Sim that works hard whilst they are at school they can earn a scholarship which means that they won't have to be worried about finances whilst they are at university. Those without a scholarship will have to do part-time jobs as well as getting their heads down to study. As you might expect it's not all about university and some of the new features spill over into the main game. A new influence rating will show you how successful your Sim is at getting others to do their tasks. New floorings and wall coverings have also been included. Zany items such as a plastic surgery kit and counterfeiting machine have also been added. You can even resurrect a dead Sim with the Resurrect-O-Nomitron if you wish. Sims can now play pranks and hang out and you'll find other new social actions have been added and these benefit the game as a whole.
What's not so good about the game?
There's not much wrong with The Sims 2 University. I would have liked to have taken my Sims that were already adults to university to improve their career prospects but sadly this isn't possible. Sims can only become a young adult if they go to university. Should they not go to university they will simply become an adult. It's a shame that loading times occur when moving from one part of the campus to the next. The different locations still feel like isolated structures and not part of the same environment. One of the big problems I encountered was the performance of the game took a massive dive when my Sim chose to live in a dorm. In a dorm you continually have Sims coming and going and even on my more than respectable PC (P4 2.8GHz, ATi X800XT with 1GB RAM) it became a slide show. At times the performance was pitiful and it really did spoil the mood.
How does it look?
Aside from the new items that have been included the expansion offers no graphical improvements or additions from The Sims 2. This is no bad thing of course as The Sims 2 still looks great when played on the highest detail settings. As we mentioned above the performance of the game can be quite awful at times. Playing in a household rather than a dorm is much better though as you don't have the sheer number of Sims walking around (not to mention a lot less objects).
How deaf gamer friendly is the game?
The Sims 2 University is exactly the same for deaf gamers as The Sims was. This is good news of course and all The Sims games have been fine. When you first visit a university you'll be asked if you want tips on how to use the new features. It's a good idea to say yes and the text tips are actually quite useful and will get you up and running without the need to look at the manual. The manual covers the new features quite nicely and is well worth a read if you have the time.
The Sims expansion packs covered a variety of subjects and it's great to see that the first expansion pack for The Sims 2 manages to cover new ground. The Sims 2 University adds some new concepts to The Sims formula and it is certainly a worthwhile purchase if you are a fan of The Sims. It's a shame that some of the locations within the universities put an awful strain on your PC but I suppose this was inevitable given how many more characters and objects have to be rendered at any one time. Still this is a minor niggle and on the whole it's certainly a promising start to the half a dozen or so expansion packs that are sure to arrive for The Sims 2.
Overall Game Rating: 8.0/10
Deaf Gamers Classification
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The Sims 2 University is a very worthwhile expansion for The Sims 2. Fans of the original game will really enjoy what's on offer. There are some performance issues though in many of the university buildings.