Do not play this game if you are offended by sex, or nudity. But by all means, keep reading this review.
Ah, Hugh Heffner. This man lives the American Dream. He’s rich, has one of the most popular magazines in existence, and lives in a mansion with beautiful, voluptuous, well-proportioned women. If only we could all be like him. Well we can’t, but we have the next best thing: playing as the world’s oldest profession’s greatest hero. In Playboy: The Mansion you start out as Hugh Heffner in the golden years. The soon to be infamous mansion is just a tiny building with a little plot of land. You only have a couple of people on your staff and you are ready to change the way the world views sex forever. Your mission is to start and maintain your magazine business, and to gain fame as the world’s number one playboy.
The gameplay is sort of a mixed bag. You have two game types on PTM: Mission play and Freeform play. Mission play gives you twelve objective-based missions to make Playboy the empire it is today. Freeform gives you complete freedom to do what you will with Hef and his Playmates. On one end you have a rollercoaster tycoon style gameplay, where you have complete control over your business. You have to hire and fire staff and pick which articles and pictorials you want to use in your upcoming issue. You can even conduct your own photo shoot. You will also have to maintain incomes and salaries. On the other end, you have to maintain Hef’s personal life. PR in this game is just as important as his business. Keep his fame up by throwing parties and invite celebrities to come kick it at the mansion. Adding on and renovating the mansion keeps the guests happy and wanting to come back for more. And let’s not forget that Hef has a love life, so you have to leave a little time for the many girlfriends you will encounter. This is a fairly mediocre style gameplay, and it gets boring after a while.
What seems to be the most challenging and fun thing to do in Playboy: The Mansion, is trying as hard as you can to sleep with as many women as possible. Believe me – there are plenty of women available to bone. Playmates, photographers, journalists, celebrities – if you name it you can seduce it. Even though you are the great Hugh M. Hefner, the art of seduction is still a tedious task. Every woman has different interests, from innocent flirting to intelligent conversation, to getting drunk. You have to maintain a fair balance between their interests in order to get them in the sack. Once you succeed, you have the option of choosing where to have sex. Beds, couches, and various other furniture all provide different sex positions. But after the first ten seconds of the love scene, it just loops back over again. Now, if this was a game like The Sims that would be understandable considering sex is not The Sims’ main focus. But this is PLAYBOY! Although I didn’t expect to see anything hardcore, I did expect a little more than two or three gyrating motions. This is where PTM loses its way. Despite all the good articles and journalism, Playboy is essentially a magazine about looking at hot women naked. The same philosophy should have been applied to the game.
The controls in the game can be, at certain times, down right frustrating. Getting a person to follow your orders is a chore. I found myself clicking on the same order two or three times in order to get them to follow through. If they are in the middle of an action, like talking or getting ready to sit down and you interrupt them, you can be sure within a second or two that they will go back to doing their own thing before you have the time to select a command for them. Camera controls are also frustrating, because you can’t really control the camera with them. The only actions are zooming in and out and turning the camera around to focus on Hef. You do not have the option of freelancing your mouse to see what everyone else in the mansion is doing without moving Hef. This proves extra frustrating, especially when you are looking for a particular person.
A nice feature that is included is all the unlockable extras PTM offers. Whenever a goal is completed, you gain points. You can take those points and buy unlockable items like original Playboy covers and centerfolds and nice little facts about Playboy and its founder. The graphics are slightly above that of The Sims. That is not necessarily a compliment. The character models, although cartoonish, seem somewhat undetailed. Every person in the game, with the exception of Hef, looks like the same person with a different hairstyle. The background textures and models are more detailed than the character models. When you are not starring at boobies, you will find the pools and other outdoor buildings a treat for the eyes.
I will have to admit, however, I absolutely love the soundtrack for this game. PTM offers a plethora of tracks to listen to. Rap, Techno, Rock, and Jazz are just a few. There is something for everyone and this shows just how much of a Renaissance Man Hef can be. What I am disappointed in are the characters’ voices. For lack of a better word to describe them, the voices are straight rip-offs of The Sims franchise. It was a complete turn off when I expected to hear a voice actor or even Hef himself talk, and what I hear is bootleg “Simlish.” Even if I heard the same fifty or so lines I would have respected that more than hearing “blah blah blah” all the time.
In all honesty, Playboy: The Mansion has exceeded all expectations. What features they did add to the game were presented well and in good taste. But, despite all its unique features (topless women being one of them), it lacks the depth that other games in its genre possess. What makes other games in this genre so good is that you can always find something new to do. But, PTM is confining. Playboy is not only a magazine; it’s a franchise. There are Playboy videos, a Playboy channel, and there are even playmates on the big screen. If the developers could have found some way to incorporate all the aspects of the Playboy franchise, the possibilities for this game could have been endless. Instead, you get a game chocked full of mediocrity and in this genre of video game, mediocrity does not cut it.