Reviewed: November 11, 2006
Released: October 17, 2006
In this latest and long-awaited expansion for The Sims 2, fans of the series can finally give their Sims their very own family pets. From dogs and cats to rodents and birds, your Sims can now adopt, buy, or even breed a unique animal friend with its own personality traits and genetics—players can choose from a number of included breeds or even create their own from scratch.
Whether you want your Sim to train a dutiful service animal or raise a furniture-annihilating monster, The Sims 2 Pets enables players design virtually whatever Sim pet they like.
Long clamored for by fans of The Sims 2, Pets provides the addition of family pets to your Sims’ lives. Pets is to Sims 2 what Unleashed was to the first Sims game: fans of the series will likely be very pleased with the addition of animal companions for their Sims.
With the Pets expansion installed, your Sims can run down to the pet store, call up the pound, or win the trust of a stray to adopt a pet. Get your Sim a fuzzy kitten, a sturdy Rottweiler, a tiny Chihuahua, a talking parrot, a guinea-pig-like “womrat,” tropical fish, or all of the above! Cats and dogs are treated as family members and now even have their own genetics, which can be passed down to offspring if you choose to breed your digital pet.
Pet genetics are highly customizable; players can choose from a variety of available breeds (which may be customized to create the individual pet) or even create their own by choosing from a variety of fur types, body shapes, and other physical features. Coloring, markings, and other appearance details are all customizable to the degree that I didn’t have trouble creating recognizable Sim replicas of my own real-life pets. Not only that, pet customization, like Sim customization, is fairly simple and easy to figure out.
Once your Sim has a pet, it’s up to him or her to train the animal. Based on their customizable personality traits, pets have various behaviors—such as chewing or not chewing on furniture, sleeping in pet beds or in Sim beds, and peeing indoors or outdoors—that your Sim may encourage or discourage, depending on how you’d like the pet to turn out. An unruly pet may destroy furniture, knock over the trash, or dig up the garden, while a well-trained pet can be taught to obey a number of commands from your Sims.
Training a pet can be a very time-consuming business. Especially if you’ve already installed the other expansion packs, your Sims may already have their hands full with their careers, social lives, dates, and family businesses, so it may be difficult to find time in the day to take care of your pet. Many Sims 2 players will see this as an enjoyable challenge, however; what’s a Sim’s life without a little complication?
In any case, pet ownership can have tangible benefits for your Sim besides simply providing social interaction. In this expansion, pets, like their Sim owners, may embark on careers, becoming show, security, or service animals and bringing home their own paychecks. Additionally, promotions in pet careers can reward the player with “Sims Gift Codes” that can be shared with friends who play Sims 2 Pets—even on platforms other than the PC—to unlock additional pet breeds, collars, and fur patterns.
Other than that, the Pets expansion contains a small handful of miscellaneous improvements. Besides the necessary collection of pet gear added, Pets includes a few other new objects (such as sleeker-looking telephones) and a few useful new building tools and materials for you to beautify your Sims’ homes, a new option for inviting entire households at once, and the chance for your Sim to become a werewolf.
The added animal and object graphics fall along the same lines as those of the original Sims 2 game and are still clean, smooth, and beautiful by today’s standards. The pet animations are smooth and lifelike, and while the pets’ behaviors do not quite match up to the more realistic range of their Sim counterparts’ quirky behaviors, their closeness to real pet behaviors makes them amusing to watch. In short, there aren’t any jaw-dropping surprises, but it’s still pleasant to look at.
As with the graphics, expect more of the same: more Simlish, more cheery music, and more realistic sound effects. What I noticed most about the sounds in Pets was the addition of dogs barking at night. It’s a small, subtle detail, but it really adds to the believable atmosphere of the suburban Sim neighborhood environment.
Retailing for $29.99, The Sims 2 Pets sells for a typical expansion pack price and delivers a decent amount of new content to fans of the original Sims 2 game. The addition of pets adds a new and sought-after dimension of gameplay to Sims 2, and the codes unlocking bonus pet breeds and features may also keep gamers playing longer.
Like the previous Sims 2 expansions, Pets seamlessly improves upon and adds to the existing gameplay by allowing your Sims to experience a lifelike caricature of yet another facet of everyday life. While this newest expansion isn’t likely to persuade new converts to jump onto the Sims 2 bandwagon, it’s bound to be a satisfying purchase for fans of the series. If you enjoy The Sims 2, and if you’re excited by the prospect of designing and caring for digital pets, you’ll probably enjoy this expansion, too.