Reviewed: September 22, 2007
Released: September 4, 2007
- Sims 2
- Sims 2 Special DVD Edition
- The Sims 2 Holiday Edition
Approximately three years after the release of the original The Sims 2 game in September 2004, the successful people simulator is already on its sixth expansion pack with The Sims 2: Bon Voyage. As you might expect from its title, Bon Voyage gives your little Sim families the ability to take a vacation from their everyday lives – and like previous Sims 2 expansions, it includes a number of amusing new gameplay features, wardrobe selections, and household objects.
This shiny new expansion doesn’t come without its drawbacks, however. While Bon Voyage offers a lot of entertaining additions to the game, at the time of this review, it also introduces a number of bugs that need some ironing out to make this a truly enjoyable Sims 2 classic.
If you’ve ever wanted to take your Sims on a vacation someplace beyond your local community lot, Bon Voyage is the expansion that allows you to do just that. Just by having your Sims use a phone or computer, you can help them book their vacation – for 3 days and 2 nights, or longer – in one of three locations: Takemizu Village (an East-Asia-inspired locale with sand gardens, shrines, and pagodas), Twikkii Island (a tropical place with beaches, pirate ships, and ancient ruins), or Three Lakes (a mountainous lake area with campsites and cabins). Your engaged Sims can now also book a honeymoon vacation prior to getting married, or even have their wedding at their chosen vacation spot.
Fortunately enough, your Sims don’t need to worry about work while they’re on vacation, so Bon Voyage allows you to focus on making your Sim have fun while out and about. Newborns and pets can’t travel with your Sim family, so you’ll either have to hire a nanny or leave a family member at home to care for them, but the rest of the family – children, teens, adults, and elders – can enjoy the benefits of Bon Voyage.
While on vacation, your Sims have a variety of lodging options to choose from, including a number of pre-made hotels (which can be modified to your liking), cabins, tents, or even owned vacation homes. Each option varies by price and offers different amenities. Tents are free, for instance, but are less comfortable and convenient; while expensive luxury hotels have better quality beds, 24-hour room service, and maybe even a sauna room.
At each vacation locale, there’s a lot for your Sims to see and do. They can either take a cab or walk to another lot to do some sightseeing, learn area-specific gestures and dances from locals, sample exotic delicacies at food stands, receive and learn massages, or soak in hot springs, among other possible activities. You can also have your Sims go on tours, though I was slightly disappointed to learn that the tour activities mostly take place off-screen: seeing a helicopter arrive to pick up your Sim family may be impressive, but otherwise, it’s not unlike your Sim going to work, with a scenario popping up at some point giving you an option between two choices that may have a positive or negative effect on your Sims. Still, the tours can have some unexpected and interesting outcomes, like the time my Sim returned to the lot being chased by a swarm of angry bees.
Besides the few examples I’ve mentioned, there are many other activities you could choose for your Sim to do while on vacation, and it’s probably safe to say that it would take at least a handful of vacations to try them all. In addition, there are rumors of some hidden lots that your Sims may discover while on tour or exploring, so Bon Voyage provides many incentives to take your Sims on multiple trips. That’s not to mention that having a good vacation can have some temporary positive effects on your Sims, allowing them to be more productive at work, or giving them an additional want slot for building Aspiration points, or making them more easygoing so they get along better with other Sims for a time, to name a few.
Some of the other vacation-oriented features carry over to your Sims’ ordinary lives, as well. My favorite feature from the expansion is probably the ability to take family photos (as all Sims carry digital cameras with them now), which sometimes actually come out looking like family photos, now that your Sims can pose for the shot. Additionally, jewelry – including everything from watches and necklaces to earrings and facial piercings – can now be purchased and equipped on your Sim separately from clothing for a more customized look. There are also, of course, some new outfits (like pseudo-kimonos and grass skirts, though, sadly, no new swimwear) and vacation-related objects (including souvenirs you can only buy or find while on vacation).
Unfortunately, however, there are some important issues with Bon Voyage to note as well. The worst flaw that I experienced while playing was the extreme slowdown the game experienced after Bon Voyage was installed. The system I installed the expansion on is about twice as powerful as the listed system requirements, but slowdown was still a major issue. Not only did loading up the game take much longer than any of the previous expansions, the game itself often ran in fits and starts in the vacation areas, even occasionally freezing up completely for half a minute or so.
For others, though, Bon Voyage’s reported incompatibility with a lot of user-created content could be an even bigger problem, since many players enjoy Sims 2 largely for the custom content. There is also currently a bug that spawns so many instances of various NPCs (tour guides, chefs, et cetera) that bogs down the game to the point that it eventually becomes unplayable if not fixed.
Overall, Bon Voyage includes a lot of great ideas and new content, and it’s unfortunate that this expansion also suffers from problems with software bugs and game performance that hamper its playability. Future patches will likely smooth over some of these issues, but for now, it’s an otherwise enjoyable addition to Sims 2 that could use some serious tuning up.
As before, expect more of the same clean, colorful graphics that the Sims 2 franchise is known for. Bon Voyage introduces some pleasant new visuals, like pirate ships, rolling waves and sea foam, beaches, Eastern-style architecture, and Aztec-esque ruins. There are also some new Sim animations for dances and gestures that your virtual people may learn on their trips abroad, all of which are entertaining to watch and on par with animations from previous expansions. In short, Bon Voyage’s graphical additions are fun, appropriate, and pleasant to look at, but it’s basically more of the same.
Just as with the graphics, the sound aspects in Bon Voyage are more of the same. There are a number of new Simlish sound samples – including the amusing pirate Simlish bits you might hear if you let your Sims explore the pirate ship on the beach – and cheerful remixes of the original Sims 2 themes in a few world-travel-inspired flavors.
Overall, Bon Voyage delivers a worthwhile amount of excellent new content, and diehard Sims 2 fans will no doubt enjoy this newest title, despite its current flaws. For the average Sims 2 player, though, Bon Voyage is still a fun expansion to pick up, but it might be better to wait a bit and see if Maxis comes up with a patch or two to improve its performance.
Honestly, the value of this Sims 2 expansion pack will vary for the individual gamer depending particularly on two factors: 1) whether custom content is important to you, and 2) your tolerance for lag and bugs. Sims 2 players who get most of their enjoyment of the game from the custom content will probably prefer not to install this expansion, whereas players who don’t particularly care for custom content will not be as adversely affected.
Additionally, players with a strong gaming PC may experience less slowdown and enjoy this latest expansion more than the typical computer owner, whose system may freeze a lot during play. The bugs, meanwhile, will likely be ironed out in time, so if they bother you, you may want to wait until Maxis has a fix ready before you decide to pick up this latest expansion.
All in all, The Sims 2: Bon Voyage is a great expansion to add to your Sims 2 library despite the current bugs, significant system slowdown, and (for many players) problems with previously installed custom content. The vacation activities are certainly an entertaining break from the drudgery of everyday Sim life, and the new jewelry options and photo-taking feature are a nice addition to the game.
If you’re planning to pick up this title and haven’t already, though, I might suggest waiting for Maxis to come out with a patch before installing this expansion; it might save you a little bit of frustration.