Your Sims are about to get a life. A nightlife, that is. Nightlife, the second expansion for EA’s cash cow Sims 2, adds a host of new features to get your Sims out for some party action while giving them entirely new ways to build relationships. It includes a few new game mechanics, even answering some complaints about the basic package, and brings a whole new dimension to Sim life outside of the home.
What you’ll notice first is the new downtown area that includes dozens of lots, each with one or two new specialties. Some are party lounges, where Sims can dance, hang out at the bar, or hook up in the hot tub. Others are restaurants where Sims can wine and dine without cooking their own food. In addition, there are themed clubs, shopping areas and social centers. Every one adds some new interactions for your Sims, most of them socially oriented- your Sims can now take over at the DJ booth or the behind the bar, eat out romantically with a date, or just party with friends and meet new people.
To complement the party atmosphere, Nightlife adds a new ways for Sims to get together. Now you can organize them into a small group for a night on the town, which turns into a minigame similar to a birthday party or wedding. Also, as part of a new attractiveness mechanic, you now assign turn-ons and turn-offs to your Sims, from glasses and hair color to weight and clothing style. Sims with compatible turn-ons will tend to be attracted to each other, while those with incompatible turn-offs won’t get along as well. This adds yet another aspect to Sim relationships that the player can user to develop, um, intimate relations. Misuse of this ability can interfere with relationships that you really want to make work — often with amusing results.
There are a host of minor additions as well. Sims can now own cars, from a clapped out compact to a sizzling imported supercar (and yes, they can “woohoo” in the back seat). For some bizarre reason there are vampires lurking downtown, and with some luck (or lack of) your Sims can be similarly cursed (or blessed, depending on how you view these things) to walk among the living dead. More importantly, Nightlife helps to answer one of the major complaints of the basic game: that there were far too few objects and building options. Aspiring Sim architects will be pleased to see the host of new objects introduced in Nightlife– from tables and counters to a Sim-sized gyroscope. While most of the new objects have a lounge or caf? theme, creative players will find many uses for, say, lighted disco floor tiles.
There are a few things that Nightlife doesn’t add, however. Aside from downtown aspects that translate to home lots — like objects and vampire Sims — the action is confined mainly to the new downtown area. Many of the new features aren’t really brought home, but instead must be sought out. Conspicuously missing are more basic additions like new jobs; where are the “Club Kid” and “Greedy Record Executive” career tracks? This is balanced by the fact that the downtown area actually compliments the basic game instead of feeling like a separate entity itself, as with the University expansion. Downtown is extremely useful for Sims with social wants and aspirations or for those who need a few more friends for that next promotion, so there’s reason to keep visiting after the novelty factor wears off.
But let’s be honest here. If you have The Sims 2, you’re going to get Nightlife. The good news is that it has an abundance of new features that, rather than taking over the basic goals, instead complements them. It’s an expansion that actually expands on the core game, so if you’re getting a little bored with the basic package it’s a good bet. After all, for most players, having Sims knock boots in the back of the minivan is all the incentive they need.