The Sims 2: Castaway PlayStation 2
Published by: Electronic Arts
Developed by: Electronic Arts
Release Date: Out Now
If you’ve been playing the past console versions of The Sims it’s a fair bet that you’ve been longing for a version that will freshen things up a bit. You’ll begin the game by creating Sims to be part of your crew. Unfortunately though, things go wrong almost immediately because as soon as you’ve created all your Sims, you’re shown still pictures of them being shipwrecked. You’ll take control of them as they are washed ashore on the aptly named Shipwreck Island.
When you first arrive on Shipwreck Island your Sims will only have a few motives (Hunger, Bladder and Energy) and your first thoughts will be to gather food. Your Sims come equipped with a roll mat to sleep on and toilet roll to answer the call of nature. On the island you’ll also come across Moneywell’s Big Book of Survival and you can choose to receive tutorial messages if you wish. You’ll guide your Sims to harvest bamboo, collect driftwood, harvest bananas, harvest clams, collect shells, collect raffia, make friends with the local monkeys and investigate everything they possibly can. You’re not simply confined to the beach you land on and you’ll get to search the whole island. The various resources you’ll collect are important as many are required for building purposes. A raft for instance needs generous amounts of bamboo, vines and palm frond.
Through investigation you’ll find plans for various items such as a raft. The raft allows your Sims to visit other islands. Of course your Sims will have no skills to begin with except for the bonus skill they acquired when you picked their occupation during the Sim creation process. Teachers have a logic bonus, whilst a Chef begins with basic cooking skills and a Musician begins the game being fairly creative. One of your first tasks will be to build a workbench. This will allow you to build tools such as an axe (which will allow you to open washed ashore crates) and a spear which allows you to catch fish that come close to the shore.
Your Sims still have all of their motives and skills that were present in the past games. Because you only have a few motives to begin with and because you acquire the rest at key moments of the game, the whole desert island thing feels very natural. For instance, your Sims won’t be conscious of their hygiene if there’s no one else around, which makes a lot of sense. You’ll still need to develop your Sims skills but most of these develop naturally as you play the game. Building tools and huts etc. will develop your Sims mechanical skills whilst the Cooking skill is developed by not only cooking but also by harvesting fruits and vegetables. Your Sims social needs can also be satisfied by making friends with other Sims and even animals.
Whilst the general theme of the game has changed somewhat, the general presentation is pretty much the same. Graphically the game is of a similar quality to the previous console versions of The Sims, although with the game set on a tropical island it certainly looks quite a bit different. There are plenty of load times on the PlayStation 2 version and it can get a little testing at times. Whilst the frame rate is generally fine you will notice a few stutters that occur when the disk is being accessed. The game still uses gibberish for the Sims conversations and as before you’ll see a variety of icons appear to give you the gist of a conversation. All information is displayed via text or icons and as with every other version of The Sims; deaf gamers will have no problems playing the game.
The Sims games have been around for a few years on the consoles now and have arrived on a regular basis. As with any title that has sequels that arrive on a regular basis, there is a danger that things can get a little stale. The Sims 2: Castaway is like a breath of fresh air for the series. At its heart it still plays like a version of The Sims but the ability to develop your Sims in a completely different environment and in different ways really freshens up the whole experience. Some may be put-off by the need to continually resource gather but I have to say that it’s the most I’ve enjoyed a console version of The Sims for a long time. Even those who haven’t enjoyed the previous versions might want to give The Sims 2: Castaway a look.