When Maxis and Will Wright unleashed The Sims on the world in 1999, they couldn’t have imagined the impact that the game would have on the landscape of interactive entertainment. Since that time, legions of adoring fans (including this reviewer) continue to buy any game or expansion pack with The Sims in the title. By the time the original game’s final expansion pack was released, the graphics, and other limitations of a 4 year old title were becoming a bit problematic. However, when Maxis followed this series with the much anticipated The Sims 2 (again published by EA) in September of 2004, Sims fever again took hold of the PC gaming community. The rest, as they say, is history.
The private areas of your business can feature workstations such as this, including deeds to other property owned and the first Simolean you earned!
Now, in the wake of the University and Nightlife expansions, we have Open for Business (OfB) , the most recent expansion pack to deprive devoted simmers of their social lives. While sticking to the tried and true Sims formula, there is still enough here to make the game a worthy purchase, even for the most casual Sims fan. As with other Sims expansions, you are free to play the game as you wish. OfB adds Bluewater Village (or your own custom-created shopping district), thereby opening up the possibility to develop both home businesses and commercial ventures. Before you start, there are a few basics that need covering – a telephone or computer gets you initial access to either purchasing real estate or registering a home business. Then, all you need to do is buy a few basics (minimally an open/closed sign and either a cash register or ticket machine which charges Sims for the time they spend on your lot) and decide is what kind of business to run.
Gameplay is the same mix of micromanagement and bizarre humor that fans of the series have come to know and love. While the new Open for Business theme gives you a very driven, money-making slant to try, you can still spend your time concocting weird sim-narios or simply constructing dream home after dream home. If you want to take the game seriously, you can do that- say you want to create a nursing home and have all your elderly residents mysteriously burn to death in a room with no doors. OK, that’s a bit grim, but you can do things like that. In true Sims fashion, it’s completely up to you.
Previous expansion packs’ big draws have always been the plethora of new items and interactions that broaden the gameplay and add new options, and Open for Business is no exception. Nothing about the core game has changed from previous expansions: if you wanted to, you could buy this expansion and continue your star-crossed love fiascoes in Veronaville without ever having anything to do with business… but where’s the fun in that? Home businesses allow the player to hire employees, craft items and sell items or services. There are set-ups for floral shops, toy shops, robot shops, clothing stores, restaurants and salons, among others. No matter which you choose, you can use the new assortment of business items (such as display counters, elevators and new decorative elements) to start earning Simoleans. New building packages such as the Victorian styled building set are showcased in the pre-made buildings in Bluewater and all the new objects and building tools are a welcome addition to the game.
Open for Business adds new building sets, such as the Victorian-esque Storybook style of decor featured here.
The graphics and soundtrack will be instantly familiar to any fan of the series, as the general level of quality is much the same as it has always been. As with the original Sims, the expansions (while greatly enhancing gameplay) do nothing to change the game’s graphics. However, the game does give you new lot view options which allow you to set the distance and quality of other houses and scenery in your neighborhood. Musically, OfB boasts Simlish versions of real songs recorded by the bands that wrote them, most notably one by Depeche Mode. You can still have any custom songs or videos that you place in your music and movie folders, but the hilarious authenticity behind having songs in Simlish should not be overlooked.
One of the greatest aspects of this game is its replay value. No game is ever the same experience, and any time you get bored you can radically change the way you approach the game. And, if the game’s incredibly diverse character creation system still leaves you wanting more, there are still thousands of Sims, homes and objects to download ffrom various fan sites, as well as cheats which allow you to do virtually anything. If you want to try out a new business, you can pop on cheats that will allow you to build and serve 24 hours a day, while keeping both you and your employees happy. The nice thing about this is any time you fall into a gameplay rut, you can free yourself by putting the rules on hold, or simply playing a VERY different household. All of this keeps OfB, as all other Sims games and expansions, as fresh and original as you can imagine it to be.
OfB adds a depth of dimension that The Sims 2 has been missing – real control over your money making. While some expansions may leave some wondering whether the pack was entirely justified, players should find enough in OfB to justify the cost. While the graphics and sound are not improved over other iterations of The Sims 2, they are still of sufficient quality and the new songs give you something different to bob your head to. Gameplay, as with all Sims expansions, is really where this game stands out, the added objects and interactions really deepen your playing experience and give you even more options for how to play an already staggeringly open-ended game. Overall, this is a valuable expansion that will make your Sims 2 playing experience even more enjoyable.
Though there is no premade set for an art gallery like this,it's easy to create with a cash register and some blank walls.
Gameplay- 9 The open-ended structure and large amount of added content will allow you to enjoy this game for hours on end.
Graphics- 8 Much the same as The Sims 2 you know and love.
Sound- 8 Some added Simlish versions of real songs add some variety to a potentially stale soundtrack.
Value- 9 The price for the expansion seems justified with the added gameplay features.
Curve- 9 This game is what you make it- if you find you're not enjoying it, try something drastically different. As in all Sims titles, the only limit is your imagination.