The Sims 2 Freetime Review

The Sims finally get some free time with this latest expansion.

Review by Tracy Bosworth
Published 26th March 2003

The Sims 2 Freetime

  • Developer: Maxis
  • Publisher: EA Games
  • Release Date: 29th February 2008

Most of us are no strangers to The Sims franchise. One of the most popular PC games ever, EA have had us creating little neighbourhoods full of little families since the year 2000. Since then however, our little people have grown more realistic and more interesting with the release of The Sims 2 and its numerous expansion packs. No longer did our Sims lives consist of home, work and school with nothing in between. They had pets to keep them company, university to attend, businesses to open, holidays to enjoy and even the nightlife to explore. What more could our Sims possibly want?

Well, since “Free Time” is said to be the last ever expansion pack for the game, it seems not a lot! This latest instalment brings hobbies and pastimes to our subject’s lives making the game that little bit more interesting and the characters seemingly deeper and more realistic than ever before.

You can have your Sims pursue an interest from a number of 10 different hobbies including “Fitness”, “Cuisine”, “Nature” and “gaming” and whilst every Sim can do well in any hobby with a little persistence, every Sim has a natural ability in one specific hobby and this natural ability makes it easier for a Sim to progress in that hobby.

Hobby enthusiasm is measured in a similar way to the skills system with little bars representing their current level. The more time a Sim spends on a specific hobby, the more the enthusiasm bar fills up and new options open up to them. For instance, one of my students developed an interest in fitness and this was helped by the fact that she had a natural ability in that field. At first, only the normal options were open to her, she could swim, use exercise equipment and work out in front of the TV or stereo. Before long however, she had spent so much time working out that she was able to go jogging around the neighbourhood, read about fitness in the newspaper, search for fitness on the internet and even subscribe to a fitness magazine that was delivered in the same way as the morning paper.

As in “real life” a Sims hobbies can have benefits for their social lives. Once their enthusiasm reaches a certain point, Sims are able to share their interests with other Sims by either talking about them, allowing them to read subscription magazines or even teaching them their passion. Your Sims may also find themselves being given a membership card to a secret club that only Sims with enthusiasm in that hobby can enter. One of my Sims had high enthusiasm in cuisine and she was given a membership card for a cooking club (basically a ‘private’ community lot that only becomes visible after an invite). She went along to see what it was all about and found herself in a smallish building complete with little cooking areas, cookie making machines, cooking teachers (there to teach you stuff other Sims can’t learn!) and a contest room. The contest room allows your Sim to prepare a special meal onsite and enter it in the cuisine competition. My Sim was delighted when she received first prize for her Lobster Thermidor dish!

Aside from the main addition to the game, this expansion pack brings with it a host of new features and items. The most noticeable items are the hobby related objects and clothing available to buy such as the ballet bar, the football net, the violin and the children’s activity tables as well as the football outfits, aprons and other work or hobby related clothing. Free Time also offers 5 new career modes including Entertainer, Dancer, Architect, Intelligence and Oceanographer as well as a new aspirations bar allowing Sims to choose a secondary aspiration. As your secondary aspiration meter fills up, you are awarded points in which to spend on your own lifetime aspiration bar.

For instance, a Sim with the popularity aspiration will be able to use their secondary aspiration points to improve this such as buying the benefit of making friends faster which in turn, helps the lifetime aspiration.

Also added to the game is the option of having Sims read up on parenting to improve their parenting and a new feature which allows an aging Sim to take 3 friends into the next life stage with them. This means that children no longer have to leave their little friends behind as they morph into sulky teens, they can inflict the aging on their friends too ensuring that they all grow up together!

Admittedly, I’m not normally a fan of Sims Expansion packs. The Sims Pets was a bit of a let down to me and open for Business didn’t really improve my game either but like University, my former favourite expansion, FreeTime adds a whole new dimension to The Sims 2 gameplay. There is so much extra stuff to do here that if it was uninstalled, I’d certainly miss it. Unlike most past expansion packs, I would recommend FreeTime to any fan of The Sims, your Sims will thank you for it and you may also see a little sneak preview of The Sims 3 in the game if you look hard enough!

So, as this is the last expansion pack for the series I think it’s fair to say that The Sims 2 franchise has ended on a high and the new content should keep us going until the eagerly awaited release date of The Sims 3 in 2009.

Review Score: 7.6/10

Please note, this review was scored using our old system. For more information please see our review policy.

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