Reviewed: September 12, 2008
Released: August 26, 2008
- Sims 2
- Sims 2 Special DVD Edition
- The Sims 2 Holiday Edition
Even with The Sims 3 on the horizon, Maxis’ The Sims 2 franchise is still going strong with its ever-growing collection of expansion packs. This latest installment, The Sims2: Apartment Life, is the eighth add-on for the popular people simulator, and it adds two major features to the Sims 2 world: rental properties and – in time for this year’s Halloween – witchy magic.
Perhaps the last expansion pack to be released for The Sims 2 (considering that The Sims 3 is slated for an early 2009 release), The Sims 2: Apartment Life seems to be that final icing on the cake that is the original Sims 2 game, adding a few miscellaneous features that only make the game better while slaking Sims fans’ thirst for more content.
This particular expansion, as suggested by its descriptive name, adds the option of renting homes instead of buying, a feature that fits right in with the previous University expansion’s dorms and the Bon Voyage expansion’s vacation homes. In fact, apartment buildings work very much like University’s college dorms: you can move in as many of your Sims as can fit in the building, and any units that aren’t occupied by your Sims are rented out by non-playable Sims. Even better, you can move multiple Sim families into the same complex and choose to either merge households or play with them separately.
There are a lot of benefits to renting rather than buying. For instance, it’s much cheaper (though rent is regularly due every Monday of the week), and it’s much easier to socialize outside of the family because neighbors are conveniently located on the same lot. Your Sims can even get a friendly neighbor to baby-sit their kids while they’re out. There’s also the option of finding a non-playable roommate for your Sim that can help pay rent and throw some unpredictability into your Sim’s daily life. (You never know when the roomie might set the stove on fire or clog the toilet again.) Also convenient is the landlord, who will keep common areas clean, fix broken appliances, and occasionally throw apartment-wide social events with food provided.
As expected, though, there are also some drawbacks to the rental scene. Most notably, living spaces are typically smaller, and build options are much more limited, only allowing changes to the flooring, walls, and other minor structures, including the newly introduced ceiling tiles. Also, as in real life, neighbors can be annoying, sometimes waking up your sleeping Sim or simply ruining the environment with noise pollution. If the neighbors get too rowdy, though – amusingly enough – your Sim can bang on the wall or knock on their door to complain. Luckily, friendly neighbors tend to be more respectful of their building mates, and they’ll also drop by your Sims’ apartment once in a while to say hello and hang out.
Along with this nudge toward encouraging friendships is an enriched social structure that adds a Reputation meter for each Sim that increases with positive social impressions perceived by other Sims and decreases with negative interactions. Your Sims’ reputations can now help or harm their careers or networking efforts to meet new Sims. There are also new social groups – Gearheads, Bohemians, Jocks, Techies, and Socialites – that your Sim can try to fit in with.
Besides these more mundane upgrades, Apartment Life also introduces witchcraft, witches, and warlocks – much like how Nightlife introduced vampires and Pets introduced werewolves. If your Sim befriends a witch or warlock, he can ask his new friend to teach him magic, which can then be used for good or evil (or neutrality), depending on your Sim’s chosen alignment. Witch and warlock Sims can cast spells to summon roaches and lightning, burn down furniture, brighten someone’s mood, cure a flu, conjure up a meal, or teleport (just to give a few examples); and (depending on which expansions you have installed) they can brew potions that cure Sims of various supernatural ailments like vampirism and lycanthropy. Also, they can conveniently use their broomsticks to travel to work, school, or community lots, including secret lots available only to magically inclined Sims.
Also, as expected, a few new objects are included with this expansion, including Murphy beds (that occasionally kill unfortunate Sims), vending machines, spiral staircases, medicine cabinets (along with more hygiene-improving actions), and an updated version of the memorable vibrating bed that first introduced the WooHoo interaction to the series.
In short, Apartment Life adds a rental property option, as well as a truckload of random little goodies that might just tide Sims addicts over until the release of Sims 3. If you like Sims 2, there’s a lot to like about this expansion, too. There are only a few minor bugs I’ve noticed as of the writing of this review, but they’ll probably be patched if they haven’t been already.
The graphics might be a little dated by now, and there’s still a significant amount of slow-down, even on a decent machine, but Apartment Life certainly looks on par with the Sims 2 graphics we’re used to.
Like the other expansion packs, Apartment Life adds more cheery music and more cute Simlish jabber to the staple mix of everyday Sim sounds.
Retailing for $29.99 like the other expansions, Apartment Life doesn’t deviate from what we’ve come to expect from The Sims 2 in terms of value and enjoyment. Witchcraft adds a lot of options to explore, and apartment living and social improvements add some interest to an already solid game. Honestly, even with The Sims 3 coming out soon, if you’ve already purchased and enjoyed the previous Sims 2 expansions, this one should be a no-brainer.
By the way, if you haven’t jumped on the Sims 2 bandwagon already but want to get in on the action, there’s also a $39.99 limited edition version that includes both the expansion and The Sims 2: Double Deluxe (which includes the original Sims 2 game, the Nightlife expansion, and the Celebration Stuff object pack) – a pretty good buy, if you ask me.
If you played and liked most or all of the previous seven expansions for The Sims 2, you’ll probably like Apartment Life just fine. Rental properties put a new spin on the old favorite, and ceilings and new objects should definitely be well received, especially by you screen shot photographers and game footage videographers. And, with aliens, ghosts, elves, vampires, werewolves, and dryads already populating the Sims 2 universe, witches and warlocks are only a natural extension to the existing mix of odd characters. The Sims 3 may only be a few months a way, but if you’re a Sims fanatic, this extra content should hold you over until then.