Reviewed: November 12, 2006
Released: October 17, 2006
Along with the PC release of Pets expansion for The Sims 2, EA and Maxis have decided to release console versions of the The Sims 2 Pets, including a PS2 version. It may not have the full range of capabilities that its PC counterpart offers, but the PS2 game gives non-PC gamers a fairly representative taste of the Sims 2 Pets experience, allowing players to create Sim families with customizable pets that can be trained, cared for, and bred.
Like the PC version of this game, the PS2 The Sims 2 Pets gives you the opportunity to create and control your own digital people and pets and to watch them as they live their everyday lives, form relationships, grow old, and have families. The game for the PS2 is not an expansion to the PS2 version of The Sims 2, however; it is a standalone game that can be played without a copy of the original title.
The PS2 title seems to offer a pretty decent slice of the Sims 2 Pets experience. Somewhat more limited than the PC version, the PS2 title provides the options of owning dogs, cats, or fish (which can be caught in one of several collection mini-games). It still gives players the ability to create their own cats and dogs.
Just as you can customize your Sims’ body and face shapes and clothing, you can customize your pets’ head shapes, body types, fur types, coloring, and other physical features (including clothing and accessories, if you’re the type of person who likes dressing animals up as humans). A number of popular feline and canine breeds are available, and there is a mixed breed option for randomized features. Pets’ personalities are also customizable so that you can create the ideal pet for your Sim.
While pets offer some social interaction for your Sims, owning a pet can be a lot of work, as well. 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 perform tricks and obey a number of commands from your Sims.
There are some features unique to the PS2, GameCube, and PSP versions of Pets, such as the Central Town Park lot. The Central Town Park takes the place of the downtown lots in the PC version of the game and provides an area to meet new Sims and shop for your pet. Many of the pet items that your pet may need, such as pet beds and other gear, are available for purchase only at Central Town Park; and many items available for customizing your pet’s look can be bought there.
Central Town Park will evolve over time, as you spend “Pet Points” to purchase items in this downtown lot. These Pet Points are awarded to your Sim every time he or she fulfills a pet’s wants. Earning Pet Points also unlocks “Sims Gift Codes” that can be shared with friends who play Sims 2 Pets—even on other platforms—to unlock additional pet breeds, collars, and fur patterns.
Even more so than with the PC version, however, it can be difficult to balance taking care of your Sim with taking care of your Sim’s pet. Since the Sim’s needs meters drop so quickly in the PS2 version of the game, it can be quite a challenge to keep both your Sim and your Sim’s animal companions happy at the same time, fulfilling their wants and needs while balancing a career and relationships so that your Sim can get ahead in life.
This can become somewhat frustrating, even with a family including only one Sim and a single pet, since it felt to me that I had to be constantly giving commands to my Sim just to make sure neither she nor her dog starved or went unwashed. It was definitely a very different experience from playing the game on the PC, where you can sit back and watch your quirky Sims take care of themselves a lot of the time, giving only the occasional necessary command. The PS2 version, however, with its direct control play style option, may appeal more to those who prefer console games to PC games, since it puts the player into the driver’s seat of the Sim’s life.
I would also note, though, that the controls and menu system for the game feel a bit awkward and difficult to use. Due to the complex nature of the Sims games, this may be understandable, but getting the hang of managing your Sims and pets, building and furnishing houses, and accomplishing other tasks can be a bit challenging when compared to other console games. I also encountered a couple bugs (including one that prevented my Sim’s dog from entering the house to eat) within the first few hours of trying out the game, which were annoying but not fatal.
The graphics in the PS2 version of The Sims 2 Pets are definitely not as dazzling as those in some other recent PS2 titles, but they’re a decent translation of the whimsical graphics from the PC game, albeit grainier and lower in resolution. Some of the included details were a nice touch, though, like the clouds moving across the sky and day gradually fading into night (versus the sudden day-to-night transitions in the PC version).
As to be expected, The Sims 2 Pets for PS2 contains the usual Simlish, lifelike ambient sound, and cheery music typical of Sims games. The sound samples are different from those used in the PC version, but they are still expressive and well done.
At the time of this writing, the Sims Pets 2 for PS2 retails for $39.95 (about 10 dollars cheaper than most new PS2 releases). Gamers who enjoy the console Sims experience will probably be entertained by this game for some time. The codes unlocking bonus pet breeds and features, as well as the collection mini-games for cooking recipes and fish, may also keep gamers playing longer.
While it’s not perfectly implemented, The Sims 2 Pets for PS2 manages to replicate the PC Sims 2 experience on a limited scale. If you’re a console gamer intrigued by the Sims games but don’t own a PC, Sims 2 Pets for PS2 may be fun for you to try, especially if you also enjoy virtual pets. Otherwise, the PC version is definitely your better bet.