The Sims: a behemoth of a franchise that originated in 2000, when Maxis decided that - even if people can't control their own lives - maybe they'd rather enjoy controlling the lives of a computer-generated family. After a few expansions (Making Magic, Vacation, House Party, etc.), Maxis released a true sequel, The Sims 2, back in 2004. Since then, every six months or so, we get a new expansion which adds a few new items and tweaks the gameplay a little bit. The Sims 2: Seasons is the latest of these add-ons, an expansion pack that doesn't change the core gameplay significantly, yet still proves to be one of the better examples of Sims 2 expansion packs.
If you've haven't gathered by now, Seasons allows your Sims to experience the wonders of Summer, Autumn, Winter and Spring. You can actually choose the seasons that you live through, the only rule being that you have to experience four seasons. Each of the seasons will affect your Sims in certain ways; so for example, the Sims appear to be a little happier during Summer. Sims also now feature a temperature, so if they're out in the cold for too long, then their temperature will be low, and you're not likely to have a happy Sim.
Farming and fishing have also been added to the list of activities that your Sims can engage in. There's a garden club that your Sims can join, and farming is quite easy to master. All you need to do is plant your crops and water your plants. Soon enough, you'll have fruits and vegetables which you can in turn sell at the market. If you find puddles of water, then you can actually fish in them to catch fish, which can either be eaten or hung up as a token of your hard work. If you happen to fish with other Sims, then your relationships will build up.
Last year's expansion, The Sims 2 Pets, didn't really add any substantial new ingredients to the mix, but Maxis has redeemed itself here with a hefty bundle of new items. Season-specific clothing can be purchased, and you can even buy expensive items, such as a bowling alley. Six more careers have been added also, including journalism [Not recommended - cynical and jaded Ed], law, music, adventuring, education and professional gaming. This doesn't mean you can cover all six by being a professional gamer writer who listens to music, teaches and likes to adventure outside occasionally, but it's good to have a wide career choice.
As this is an expansion pack, you'll obviously require a copy of The Sims 2 to play the game. However, it's not essential to own all of the previous expansions to play The Sims 2 Seasons, as every expansion has its own gameplay additions. However, if you do happen to own all the expansion packs, then there's a few more options open to you.
Graphically, the game looks very impressive - you'll get snow falling during Winter, people building snowmen, and snowball fights occuring. As there's so much going on in the game during each of the seasons, it's always easy to tell what season it is. Visually though, the game hasn't really been upgraded since its debut in 2004, and is beginning to look a touch dated. In terms of audio, there have been no real enhancements - your Sims still speak in their garbled Simlish, and the sound effects are certainly competent, though occasionally become repetitive.
If you've played any of the previous Sims titles, then you know what to expect in terms of how long the game will hold your interest. For the first few hours after installing The Sims 2 Seasons, you'll be fiddling around with changing seasons and trying to scope out what new items have been added. The Sims has never really had a definitive end point of course, which means you could be playing this game for a long time; as the game is so open-ended, those looking for a more linear, focussed experience may be put off.
The previous two Sims expansions, Pets and Open for Business only really included a few minor gameplay enhancements. Thankfully, with new careers, four seasons that all affect your Sims in different ways, and a host of new objects, Seasons comes highly recommended. If you have been put off by the lack of enhancements in the expansions, then Seasons welcomes you back in style.