By now I’m sure most gamers are aware that The Sims 2 is an amazing people simulator for the PC. It was only a matter of time before Maxis started flinging expansions out for this fantastically unique game, and the first one has just landed. The Sims 2: University, as the game’s title suggests, lets you send your sims to college. With a ton of new objects, locations, and gameplay features, this expansion really adds a plethora of new activities for your sims.
We will start out with the college feature, since it is the focus of the expansion. You can take any teenage sim in your neighborhood and send them to college at any one of the three universities that are included in the game. You also have the option to create your own university, which can also be a lot of fun. Regardless of which college you choose, your teenage sim will grow into the new Young Adult age group upon arriving on campus. Once a sim becomes a young adult, they have the ability to do many of the things that they could not do as teenagers, most importantly, Woohoo. They cannot get pregnant, though, so they get all of the perks and none of the consequences.
Once on campus, your sim gets to choose which dorm they would like to live in; they can opt for rushing a fraternity or sorority, or they can get their own small house. The living situation is terrific because, unlike regular sim households, you only get to control the sims that you have brought to college from your neighborhood. The rest of the students that live in your dorm all have minds of their own. This is so just like college! You can’t control them, which results in some crazy and extremely entertaining scenarios. You never know what will happen next. Luckily, your sim can lock their dorm room door to keep the nut from down the hall out.
The dorms all have similar features. There is a kitchen/cafeteria area, complete with a cook that is ready to make meals for hungry students at nearly all hours. A study area that is loaded with bookshelves and tables is the perfect place for a group study session. There is a computer lab, bathrooms, and a large community room stocked with video games, couches, and a large television. Along with the student’s rooms, there is usually a common area where the students can relax and study in front of a nice fireplace. The showers in the dorms are all communal showers, so even the most shy sims are forced to shower with everyone else. At least the guys and girls get their own separate rooms for this. The dorms really turned out true to life, and there are very few aspects of this that Maxis didn’t construct perfectly.
Along with a number of dorms, fraternities/sororities, and student homes, the campus has all sorts of interesting and true-to-life locations that your young adult sim can visit. You have your mandatory college campus coffee shops, of course, where your sims can get a start on their life long caffeine addictions. The gym has a pool and a complete fleet of exercise machines. The mirrors that cover the entire wall really complete the gym atmosphere. You also have your normal campus locations, like the Student Center, the Music Hall, and the University Library. These are great places to meet other students, as well as faculty. Nothing improves your grades better than a little brown nosing outside of class. If your sim becomes close enough with your professor, they can even Woohoo with them. That definitely has to be worth some extra credit, right? If your sim wants to let off some steam, there are shops that sell all sorts of cool items and a pool hall that has a stage with instruments set up in case your sim wants to start a band and perform.
The most important aspect of college is the actual education, and so it is vital that you keep your sim’s class performance up. During the semester, a student only has one class, which usually pertains to the major that they have chosen. There are eleven majors to choose from, all of which lead to faster advancement in the corresponding career track once your sim has graduated. Attending class is only part of the class performance equation. You must keep your class performance up by doing assignments, studying, learning new skills, writing term papers, and doing research. Unlike the homework that the teens and children have to do, the college students don’t have assignments that they bring home everyday. They get to choose any of the above mentioned methods to raise their class performance. If you don’t do an assignment, no big deal. Just make sure to study, or work on your term paper. This really takes a positive step away from the stress that the younger generations’ homework can cause.
Class performance is measured by a meter that slowly fills up as you do your various class related activities. The meter, though, starts out very small. You must learn new skills to increase the size of the meter. There are hash marks at each grade, A-D, and your meter starts out only reaching up to the D marker. So, even if you do tons of homework and fill your meter all the way up, it will only reach the D level, which results in you getting a D grade. When you learn a new skill that pertains to your major, your class performance meter increases in size by one grade, allowing you to fill the meter up to the C level, and so on. This whole process works very well to make the task of doing class work more interactive than if the sims just sat there and studied. This causes the player to be more involved with the sim’s class work, which is an absolutely terrific idea.
To earn some money on the side, your sims can actually get part-time jobs in the locations they visit. A few examples of places that your sims can work are the coffee shop and the dorm cafeteria. Your sim can work for as long you as you want them to, earning a small amount of money each hour that they work. In addition, the expansion has added four new careers for your sims to try out: Natural Scientist, Artist, Show Business, and Paranormal. The reward objects for these new careers are awesome. You have a camera for the Artist career that lets you get sims to pose for pictures that you can then stick on the wall. The Paranormal career gets you a contraption that lets you bring your loved ones back from the dead. The cool part about this one is that sometimes it backfires and they come back as zombies. The Natural Scientist career gets you a giant cow/Venus flytrap plant that will actually eat sims that get too close, and then produce a liquid that increases the lifespan of those who drink it. Lastly, we have the Show Business career, which grants you the ability to use a machine that does plastic surgery. This basically allows you to change the appearance of any sim, but there is a risk of damage to those sims who use it, so beware!
Another cool aspect of this expansion is the new gameplay addition of the Influence Bar. There are new wants and fears in the game that, when displayed, are outlined in blue. These are influence wants/fears, and if met, they not only give you aspiration points, but influence points as well. If your sim gets enough influence points, they can use them to actually influence other sims to do things for them. You can influence sims to do anything from working on your homework to actually fighting another sim. This aspect of the game is really interesting, and adds a whole new dimension to the gameplay.
As far as interactions with the sims, the expansion has added a whole bunch of new options. There some pranks, like hand buzzers and water balloons, which are a lot of fun. Your sims can now actually do freestyle rap, for fun or for tips, and show their inner gangsta to any nearby sims. There is even a variation on hackey sack that your sims can play. My two favorites, though, would have to be the pillow fights and the streaking. In the pillow fights, the sims run around laughing and whacking each other mercilessly with pillows. Feathers fly into the air, and rain down all around. It is a lot of fun to watch. The streaking is even better. Your sim strips down to the buff, and then proceeds to run around, maniacally hooting and hollering. The best part happens when your streaking sim spots another sim and runs up to them and does a little impromptu dance. These sims are pretty adept at it, too. I think streaking may be the official sport of Sim City.
On top of all of this, of course, is the truck load of new objects that everyone knew Maxis would include in the expansion. With over 125 new items in the game, your sims will have plenty to keep themselves entertained until the next expansion comes out. The guitar, bass, and drum set are awesome. If you get your sims all playing at the same time, they will actually play a song together. If their skill level is high enough, they actually sound good. There are a few objects, like the Fruit Punch Barrel (Keg) and the bubble blowing thing (Hookah), that are a ton of fun to use at the parties your sims throw. A bunch of new exercise equipment has been added, as well. The coolest of these has to be the treadmill. If your sim’s fitness is low, they will have problems staying on their feet when using this one. It’s hilarious to watch. The developers have added cell phones and mini fridges, both of which are mandatory for your modern college student. Now your sims can order pizza from anywhere! The Bonfire is a blast, and the C machine is really funny. It actually lets your sims print counterfeit money. Last but not least, is the Pool Table. It is actually fun just to sit and watch your sims play pool against each other. You know an object is constructed well when you can sit for long periods of time just watching the sims use it.
Maxis has also included four new hairstyles for each sex, and a plethora of new outfits for your sims. I was pleasantly surprised to find that there were actually just as many, if not more, outfits for the males. This is not usually the case. The clothing they have included is immediately recognizable as something a college aged individual would wear. They even took some of the teen outfits and converted them to fit the older age group. This was a great idea, as it helps establish that even though they are adults, they are still youthful.
The developers behind the game have done an excellent job with their first expansion for The Sims 2. They already had a brilliant game to begin with, and the aspects they have added with University only work to increase that brilliance. The best part is that all of the new features they have added are not limited to the college campus. Nearly all of the new features and objects will be available in your regular neighborhoods as well. Due to the increased content, the load times have gotten a little longer, but aside from that there is very little to complain about in The Sims 2: University. If you haven’t tried The Sims 2 yet, I recommend that you go pick up both the game and this new expansion pack today. If you already own The Sims 2, the chances are high that you already went out and bought this expansion pack and are playing it right now instead of reading this review. Actually, that’s not a bad idea?where did I put that disk?