capsule review

The Sims 2 University

Thanks to Aspyr Media’s The Sims 2 University—the first official expansion pack for The Sims 2—you can now help your simulated characters get degrees they’ll never use in real life, and run up debt it’ll take years to pay off.

If you’ve somehow missed this phenomenon, The Sims 2 builds on the most popular computer game ever made—a complex simulation that lets you control and influence the lives of simulated people, called Sims, who go about their days working, playing, socializing, and doing all the things we do in the real world. You, as their omnipotent, omnipresent overlord, direct them in their endeavors by telling them how to treat each other (do I flirt with that cute boy? Do I tell my neighbor a joke?), what careers might be good matches, and how to decorate their homes.

This expansion pack provides you with a whole new age group to control: young adults. College life is really the focus here—your Sim students can pick from one of three universities, each with a different theme. They can live in campus dorms, pledge to a fraternity or sorority, or live in an apartment off campus. They can also pick from 11 majors that open up their horizons to new career prospects. There are four new career paths in all, including show business, art, science and, believe it or not, the paranormal.

They can also get a part-time job, go to parties, and do a lot of the other stuff that real college students do. However, thanks to the game’s time compression, which forces entire semesters into a few minutes of gameplay, the experience is far from what I’d call realistic. And a new “pranks” system is positively lame. Water balloons? Give me a break.

Even if college life only interests you a bit, you can still benefit from the expansion pack’s offerings. For example, it adds more than 100 new objects and décor items to the game. You can get an arcade game for your rumpus room, or grab a camera and take photos. However, many of the décor options run the gamut of shabby college-budget gear.

There’s also new music to listen to, and new sim-stations on the TV. You can also play new musical instruments, so you can outfit your Sims with a complete band ensemble, then make money playing gigs. But the differences are more than just cosmetic. A new influence system lets your sims fulfill each other’s wants. This comes in handy when you’re in school—you can influence someone to write your term paper for you.

You never actually see the inside of a classroom in The Sims 2 University. In that respect, it’s a bit like the career options afforded to The Sims in the outside world—they go offscreen for a few hours, but spend most of their times in social activities and other stuff that requires your direct influence. How well they socialize and adjust to college life will affect your Sims’ ability to do well in school.

Remember, The Sims 2 University is an add-on. You’ll need the original game to play.

The bottom line

Core changes to gameplay, the new influence system, fresh music, and other enhancements are enough to recommend The Sims 2 University. Just don’t expect a realistic version of college life.

The Sims 2 University
RATING:  
PROS: Cool new music; new objects to play with; new influence system adds strategic elements; exclusive new careers.
CONS: Lame décor add-ons and pranks.
PRICE: $30
OS X COMPATIBILITY: 10.3.9 or later
COMPANY: Aspyr Media

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