Reviewed: March 26, 2006
Released: February 28, 2006
In previous expansion sets, your Sims could send their teenaged children to college, own cars, experience a night on the town, and date other Sims. The latest addition to the collection of Sims 2 expansion packs, The Sims 2 Open for Business, changes things up a little by allowing your Sims to run customized establishments of their own—from toy stores and restaurants to salons and health clubs—either from leased commercial spaces or even from their own homes.
I began playing Open for Business by loading up one of my existing Sims, the eccentric Pinkerton Rothschild, who has always wanted to open his own garden gnome emporium. After all, why not? Open for Business allows you to run just about any kind of business, either out of the comfort of your own home or at a purchased community lot. Almost any item available in the object catalog (as well as items crafted by your Sims, such as food) can be set as an item to be purchased by customers at a price range of your choosing, and, by setting up a ticket machine, you can run establishments such as arcades and gyms by charging customers based on how much time they spend at your Sim’s business lot.
In any case, Pinkerton wanted to open a store in his own home, so he began by making a phone call to mark his home as a business. To make sure people weren’t always coming in and out freely, he purchased the newly added open/closed sign, which allowed him to control when customers could enter his home. He also locked the doors to his private quarters (another new feature in this expansion that I find useful, even outside of the business context), so that only he could go beyond the store area. Then, purchasing a few shelves (also new) and stocking the shelves with creepy garden gnomes of all colors, he could set the prices for each item and decide which items were for sale. Finally, he added a cash register counter, and Pinkerton’s Garden Gnomes and More was ready for business.
As can be expected, running a business is a different challenge from running a household of Sims, as you will be managing a number of customers and attempting to keep them happy in order to build customer loyalty. Increasing your customer loyalty (by building relationships with your customers) allows you to gradually increase your business’ rank, which, in turn, earns you business perks. The business perk system works a lot like the tech research trees in strategy games, as you can choose from tiered benefits such as increased reputation and greater discounts on buying wholesale goods. Naturally, these benefits will help your Sim more easily build a successful business.
Running a business can be hectic, so it may be helpful to hire employees to help your Sim out. The members of the managing Sim’s immediate family will automatically be managers of the business, but additional Sims can be hired straight off the street or over the phone. Each Sim can have a different set of skills and Talent Badges (which are specifically business-related, such as Sales, Restocking, or Toy-making), and hiring a skilled employee will be more effective, but also more expensive.
All Sims will learn while on the job, however, so even the least skilled Sim can be worth hiring. Employees can be assigned to particular tasks until given a break, and your managing Sim can fire, scold, promote, and train their underlings. It may be wise to keep track of the employee’s mood, however, if you want to keep that hired hand; as with your Sim’s date from Nightlife, you can keep track of the employee’s status by a marker above him or her.
For amusement, you can also set your employees’ uniform, which is fully customizable. Open for Business gives you a variety of mix-and-match mascot costumes to choose from, such as the ninja, knight, deep-sea diver, and gorilla suits. Pinkerton, for example, chose to dress his favorite salesperson as a whimsical space cow.
Most of the new objects and architectural styles (such as shelving, awnings, and shop signs), however, are business-related and may not be especially appealing or necessary to Sims 2 fans that aren’t interested in the business aspect of the game. They could be useful for building commercial lots, but the additional household objects are not a strong part of this new expansion.
In short, Open for Business puts an innovative spin on the Sims 2 game and presents new, slightly faster-paced challenges to the seasoned Sims 2 player. The business aspect of the expansion is fun and gives players the opportunity to follow their Sims to work and customize their career choices. Be aware, however, that it is almost a new game unto itself and may not appeal to all Sims 2 fans, as it doesn’t add many new social interactions or new objects.
The graphics have not changed from the original Sims 2 and are still clean, smooth, and beautiful by today’s standards. Similarly, however, there haven’t been any improvements since 2003, when the original Sims 2 came out.
As with the graphics, expect more of the same. The sounds added in this expansion integrate well with the original sounds, as usual.
At a suggested retail price of $34.99, Open for Business may have a heftier price tag than some fans of the Sims series would want to pay for few additional objects and daily interactions. Since this expansion is very specific in only adding business-related items and actions to the original Sims 2 game, it may not appeal to everyone. If you’re interested in allowing your Sims to run their own businesses, however, this is certainly a worthwhile expansion to buy.
Open for Business is a fun expansion to play, but it will certainly be more fun for those Sims fans who have been looking forward to creating customized careers for their Sims or managing them at work. This new expansion adds a new level of challenge to the game and a significantly fresh aspect of gameplay, though few new items and ordinary social interactions, so you may want to keep this in mind if you’re considering investing in this particular expansion.