The Sims 2 University Review
Time for University
Review by Tracy Bosworth
Published 6th November 2005
The Sims 2 University
- Developer: Maxis
- Publisher: EA Games
- Release Date: 11th March 2005
The best selling PC game of all time was best known for its open ended gameplay, its addictiveness and infamously, its expansion packs! Being an avid fan of the original 'master of puppets' game I was naturally awaiting the arrival of The Sims 2 with great excitement and as soon as it arrived there were talks of expansions packs to follow! The truth is, The Sims 2 is just an amazing game, what could they possibly add to it to make it even better? Well, you could throw in the option to send much loved Sim teens that you have raised from tiny Sim babies off to university complete with a brand new age phase I suppose...
If you thought the game was complete before, being able to carry on generations of Sims through the trials and tribulations of life then the addition of college life is bound to go down well in your Sim households, let's face it, when it comes to teens The Sims 2 lets us see it all, we watch them have their first kiss, hold down their first poorly paid job, seeing them experience the huge party that is university is just what we need to complete our Sim teen phase and that is exactly what this addition does, completes the teen phase in your Sims life and turns them into a brand new age phase aptly named "Young Adult".
The Sims 2: University opens up 3 new educational institutions eagerly awaiting the arrival of your Sims and players must assign one to their neighbourhood. The universities themselves are all unique and different in their own way despite holding more or less the same basic features, a Coffee house where you can revitalise your tired Sims, a lounge which doubles up as an area of relaxation and socialisation and of course, the dorms which offer cheap accommodation for your not-so-rich young adult Sims. Aside from the basics each campus also features Greek houses for those Sims that can show they're cool enough to be considered entry and the more expensive and exclusive Residential areas where Sims can rent a place of their own.
The highlight of the accommodation set up in my opinion was the Greek houses, large, well equipped dwellings with everything you need to progress through college at your finger tips and just like in the other neighbourhoods you can make constant changes and improvements to the Greek house as your students earn more and more college money so even if your Sim does start off in a basic, over-crowded dormitory, if he or she talks to the right people he or she may well find themselves invited to join a comfortable home complete with comfortable beds, well equipped kitchens, everything you need to study and maybe even a Jacuzzi and what’s more… they get to share it with the most popular Sims on campus!
So, that’s the new areas covered, now you need to make use of them and you can do this by either sending one of your much loved SimSprings off to college or by choosing a ready made 'young adult' from the campus 'family bin'. If you do decide to send one of your own Sims to college you can make it happen as soon as they reach the 'Teenager' life phase and to make life a little easier there is even the option of securing a scholarship before your sim leaves the house meaning that he or she will at least have some money to buy essentials once they make that step and leave the comforts of home. Like most things in life, scholarships come in all different shapes and sizes and are directly affected by your sims school grades, skill points and job performances so it may pay to keep teens in the family household for a while at least until you feel they are really 'ready' to apply for that all important scholarship.
Once you get past the initial preparation and find yourself at the college campus you will have to choose some accommodation for your sim and for most, they will start out in a little room in the dorms. When you first arrive you will find a number of empty rooms, each kitted out with a bed and normally one other piece of furniture...usually a computer desk or a dresser and to claim a room you simply click on the door and choose "claim room" to have your Sims picture appear above the door. Once the room is claimed no other student Sims will be able to enter and your Sim will not be have access to their rooms either however socialisation within the dorms comes easy due to the communal lounge area, a cafeteria style kitchen with a cook readily dishing out breakfast, lunch and dinner to hungry students and even little games areas. With the help of the taxi service you can also visit other areas within the campus 'neighbourhood' such as the library and gym but as with the other neighbourhoods, travelling from place to place is slow and plagued with long waits and loading screens and in all honesty, the majority of campus areas are just not worth the hassle, especially when everything from studying, sleeping and socialising can be done from within your living quarters.
So, what is day to day living like within the campus walls? well providing your sim gets to sleep at a decent hour he or she will get up at whatever time you demand and just like at home you can send them off to the bathrooms and get some breakfast inside them then there is usually an essay that needs finishing (this is where pc's come in handy) or you can try your hand at a 'group study' with a few of the other students? If you have the time, energy and inclination you could also find yourself a part time job to tide you over during your studies.
Of course, there is more to student life than simply partying and reading a few books, your sims must choose a degree path to pursue and there are 11 majors to choose from including Psychology, Drama, Art, Philosophy, Biology, Economics, Literature, Maths, History, Physics and Political Science. Each major is geared towards certain career paths, for instance the History major may help a sim heading towards the military career whereas Economics would be an advantage in the business career track and although some are not as specific as others, they will certainly give your young sims an advantage when they enter the working world after Uni.
Speaking of career tracks, The Sims 2: University opens up four new ones; Paranormal (everything from UFO investigation to psychic), Show business (a must for attention seeking sims!), Artist (only the most creative sims will excel here) and Natural Scientist but access to these careers depend on achieving the college degree and this in itself will depend on you getting your sim to their lectures on time, finishing class assignments, engaging in your own research and completing essays, for a quick look into how well you're doing your college progress is shown in a 'class performance meter' and you will need to keep an eye on this as you progress through 4 'years' of university.
Starting off as a freshman you will be required to hold it together through two semesters per year with Sophomore, Junior and senior following your first year, to help you keep track of where you are in your college year you are kitted out with a semester bar which slowly fills as you complete your semesters and near your final exams. How well you do in your exams obviously depends on your sims moods and class performance but if your sim happens to do particularly badly, he or she will be kicked out of college and will automatically become an adult with no degree to show for their time.
The Sims 2 university is a pretty big expansion and aside from allowing you to take a more than direct role in your sims education the pack also comes with a load of extra goodies, firstly there are two new styles of furniture to add to your houses including groovy (think 70's psychedelic!) and Medieval (perfect for the goths!) and unusually the game brings with it a few 'bad' bits of furniture but don’t panic, the new 'worn' style fridge may have mould growing from the bottom and the settee may have holes, dirt and scruffy patches but it does look great in a house filled with penniless students who would much rather spend their cash on pizza and Chinese take-aways then furniture and decor! Other new items included in the game include some excellent musical instruments, guitars, bass, piano and even a drum kit and Sims can even come together to form their own little band…because lets face it, what good is college without a band?? For your health fanatics there has been an array of new exercise equipment added including a treadmill and new weights machines, a mini fridge which is perfect for bedrooms or games rooms, a new pool table, a counterfeiting machine that allows your naughty Sims to create their own simolians and a gadget kiosk that allows your Sims to buy the latest techno goods such as mobile phones and hand-held console games.
Apart from the physical new objects the university expansion pack also brings with it a host of new animations and options including the option for teens to 'hang out' which sees your young'uns sitting on the ground in a circle chatting and occasionally taking it easy laying back on the ground in a realistic, lazy teenage, carefree fashion. The great thing about the new 'hang out' feature is the fact that you can now start your Sims off in conversation and leave them to it as they will often stay like this for hours on their own meaning that you don’t have to constantly remind them to carry on interacting! Another option is to get your Sims freestyling which is hilarious to watch and involves one or more Sims engaging in freestyle 'battles' whilst on-lookers gather around and carry on with a hip-hop style dance and occasionally help out with background noises, this in particular has been done brilliantly and can involve a huge group of people entertaining each other and having fun with nothing but their voices needed!
Another add on to the game set up is the addition of life-time wants and influence points, a life-time want is a main goal that a Sim will want to fulfil before he or she dies, this can be something like reaching the top of a career ladder, maxing out specific skill points or producing a certain amount of children, if you manage to make this happen for them their aspiration bar will become platinum for the rest of their lives. The influence system works in the same way as the aspiration system where the points are concerned and allows your Sim to persuade other Sims to do specific things for them such as finish an essay or pick a fight with someone.
All in all, The Sims 2: University is must for all you Sims 2 addicts out there, there is just so much here that it really doesn’t feel like an add on pack, it feels like the other half of The Sims 2!
Review Score: 8.6/10
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