Reviewed: November 17, 2005
Released: October 24, 2005
Itís always nice to see a game that takes advantage of the hardware itís on, and thankfully, The Sims 2 does just that on the Nintendo DS, rather than being just a port from another platform. In the middle of Strangetown, there is a practically rundown hotel that you (and your Sim) will get back into shape. And to do this, youíll need to do some odd jobs, keep customers happy, and even do a little gambling to make the Simoleans needed to build your hotel up and out in success.
While a bit of a departure from the classic Sims formula, The Sims 2 on the DS remains attached to the roots and feel of what The Sims has been always about.
Like the console and handheld versions, The Sims 2 on the DS takes a different path from the PC versions by giving you control of a single Sim (instead of managing all Sims and watch them perform tasks you told them to do). You can choose the appearance and sex of your Sim, though the variety is a little small.
The Sims 2 on the DS works off the real time clock of your system instead of the blazing ďSim-TimeĒ of past titles. But while other games using this kind of clock are more open-ended, The Sims 2 is structured in chapters, so you might find yourself tempted to advance the clock to finish a quest. The majority of your playtime will be devoted to your customers, but youíll also have the Sims mainstays of making sure your hunger, sleep, and hygiene are in check in the form of a sanity meter. When it gets low, itís time to do something about your Sim.
The DS strengths come into play here in various ways, but the most pronounced is the touch screen interactivity, which plays into the game a lot. You can, for example, vacuum on the top screen while sifting through the stuff for valuables that may have been sucked up on the bottom screen. Even though some of these tasks might sound meaningless, theyíre definitely fun and much of it is entirely optional anyway.
Furnishing your hotel is probably the gameís single biggest draw because you can do this any way you like. While you canít structure new parts of the hotel yourself, how itís decorated is entirely up to you. Accumulating ďstuffĒ is what makes games of this nature so rewarding, and The Sims 2 on the DS is no exception, actually going a step further with much of it. For example, you can make your own paintings via the gameís paint program, and then hang them in your gallery, or even sell them off to make Simoleans. You can also customize your ring tones for your in-game cell phone and even include your own voice within the gameís background music.
The Sims 2 operates well for the most part, but the game isnít entirely comfortable to play all the time. While much of the game plays with the stylus and D-pad, you still need the R and L buttons to rotate the camera. It doesnít really hurt the experience The Sims 2 aims for, but itís not very ergonomic either. Thankfully, the gameís interface usually works well, only being spotty in certain areas, which donít show up very often.
The Sims 2 on the DS is in true 3D, and as such, doesnít look that good at all. The smeary textures and simple designs are obvious side effects of that, though the game isnít ugly. The 3D environments are an achievement in itself in making a more cohesive world, and the animations are done very well. Itís nice to see the game in 3D; itís just not impressive to look at.
The charming ďSim-ishĒ is back and is more over-the-top than ever. Sadly, the music is pretty forgettable, with the exception of being able to put your own voice into the background stuff via the DS microphone. This unique feature alone more than makes up for the lack of impressive music though.
The Sims 2 can link wirelessly to trade furniture, and even play a few card games, though there isnít any single-cart modes included, which wouldíve been nice. The customization options really help to give The Sims 2 more staying power after finishing the main quest. These features will only really get tired when you do. Otherwise, the game is set to last awhile.
The Sims 2 isnít the next breakout experience for the DS system, but it does a nice job of utilizing the systemís capabilities and adds enough unique features to make it stand out against its console brethren. Itís a more linear experience, but it hasnít lost touch with what makes The Sims unique and appealing. Itís solid and is set to last the player for the long haul, and despite being a slight departure from the Sims formula, itís still undoubtedly part of the familiar world fans have come to love.