Jeremy Jastrzab
30 Dec, 2006

The Sims 2: Pets Review

PSP Review | Almost as frustrating as dog poop on the carpet.
The Sims is a phenomenon. In Australia in particular, Sims titles regularly occupy the top ten sales charts with unsurpassed consistency. They have managed to tap the casual and female gamer’s market unlike any other game before them. Interestingly, they are actually good games, which have a unique appeal that manages to capture almost everyone. Earlier this year, the latest expansion for The Sims 2 was released in the form of The Sims 2: Pets. Of course, the game has now been ported to the consoles and the handhelds.

The PSP version of The Sims 2: Pets is essentially the same game but not all the content has come over. The Sims 2 was released on the PSP last year and it had quite a few changes to try in order for it to be optimisd for the system. It wasn’t as good as the console title or even the PC title, though there was at least an effort to make the game more suitable for the PSP. This time around, we’ve got a miniaturized console game that is a direct port of a PC expansion.

The PC version allowed you to have four different kinds of pets while the home console versions allowed up to have three different kinds. The PSP however only allows two different kinds of pets, Cats and Dogs (kind of strange when you have a hamster on the cover). At the start of the game, you have the option of going through a comprehensive tutorial. Even if you are familiar with The Sims, it’s handy to go through because of the minor differences and nuances between versions. The game is somewhat friendly towards pick-up-and-play gameplay but nothing has been able to top the keyboard and mouse.

No need for words.

No need for words.
In terms of the controls, the difference with the console and PSP versions is that you control one character at a time. By pressing the Circle button, you can switch between characters. The analog nub can be used to move the controlled player. That is, you can control them so that they run around and do as you please. In this mode, you can move around the camera by pressing the R button and maneuvering with the analog nub. You also have the required menus at your fingertips and for the most part, you walk up to something, press the X button to open up your various options, menus and possible actions. There is the option to switch to “classic mode”, which reverts to controls that are more a tune to the PC setup. It’s nowhere near as comfortable as a PC but at least you are given the option to choose which mode will be better for you.

Where the PC version was always the measuring stick for all things Sims, the other console versions were considered good games but none could measure up to the engrossing and appealing nature of the originals. For the first time on consoles and handhelds, The Sims 2: Pets actually does a very decent job of replicating the PC experience with a couple of enhancements. Where as the PC versions had the advantage of customization and spontaneity, this latest port is the first to actually get this right. In fact, the AI alone could be considered much better than it was in previous versions. This can be seen as you step back and watch the various activities that are preformed by the various Sims and their pets.

Just like in the previous The Sims titles, the focus of the game is to run the lives of your little Sim people. You can start off by taking over a pre-made family or by creating your own. You have a wide array of customizing options, as you’d expect from an EA title, and there are many different and varied characters that you can create. A couple of options are missing but we can assume this is due to the space constraints on the UMD medium. Following this, you control the character’s appearance and aspirations. You control their house, their social and work lives. It’s all at your fingertips.

Go on, you know you want to dress that kitty.

Go on, you know you want to dress that kitty.
The biggest addition to the game is obviously that of the pets. As mentioned, you can choose between cats and dogs. When you are first establishing your family/household, you can pick, choose and customise with your pet as well. You can have an ordinary cat/dog, some freakily dressed thing with sunglasses and shoes or even an alien or skeleton pet. To put it simply, the pets play like a sim that you can’t directly control. You will need to fulfil their needs and wants but at the same time, you can only ask them to follow you or to put out their feeding bowls.

By fulfilling needs and wants and by exchanging money, you will earn pet points. These pet points can later be taken down to the town square, which is solely dedicated to the facilitating of play space and shopping space. The shopping space is used to buy a wide assortment of things for your pets and you can only use the pet points to buy them. Disappointingly, the game is rather small in scope, with a limited neighbourhood size and a single downtown lot size - pretty much the area that was added as an expansion. Again we assume that this is due to size constraint but this does put a serious dent into the depth of the game.

As a PSP game, The Sims 2: Pets is a good conversion of the console games but there are two gaping flaws that bring it down. Firstly, while it is admirable that the developers try to fit in all the micromanagements into a pad, it was probably a better idea to make a different game. Going through all the menus can become tedious and when you add the need to manage the pets, it can become quite a chore. This is because you’re left with very little time to do anything other then manage, manage and manage. It takes out a lot of the opportunities that you had to stuff around, as in other Sims titles.

Why do the dogs get all the girls?

Why do the dogs get all the girls?
This flaw is one that can be looked past. However, the other has a much greater impact. Technically, the game is severely hampered by a slew of constant load screens and intervals. So much so that it has a direct impact on the gameplay. First you have to contend with a few longer load screens to get into the game, then during the customization process you are constantly upheld as the game tries to load the immediate contents, then, during the actual game, you are barraged with a three to four second load interval virtually every time that you press X when you want to interact with something. If it weren't for this the game would be fine but as it happens, it destroys a lot of the portability that the title may have had. It’s barely passable and it’s disappointing that this would be allowed to pass the production line.

Graphically, the game looks the same as you would expect it to look on low end PCs. The colours and the vibrant nature are there but it has been at the expense of some of the technical and finer details. The game manages to retain the same style of the Sims but again, it’s severly hampered by the technical issues. In terms of sound, the game has managed to get most of sound over from the PC, and that includes the gibberish voices, though sounds can be a bit indistinguishable when the sound is turned lower.

The Sims 2: Pets at its core, is a good little game that shows that the Sims experience can be ported over to consoles and even onto the PSP. However, if this is the best example of the PSP’s capabilities, the developers are better off making a different game because the load times/screens make the game lose portable appeal and a lot of functionality as a game in general. It’s disappointing because there were the makings of a decent game here. Unfortunately, this ends up being another game that ought to have be rebuilt or made completely different for the PSP, rather than being an attempted port.
The Score
The Sims 2: Pets for PSP is not a bad game but it should not have been released in its current state. 4
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

Related The Sims 2: Pets Content

The Sims 2: Pets Review
28 Oct, 2006 You no longer need a real dog.
The Sims 2 Pets revealed
29 Jul, 2006 Furry and fluffy.
The Sims 2: Pets Review
28 Oct, 2006 You no longer need a real dog.
7 years ago

100 reviews for PALGN

7 years ago
And what a way to chalk up that number icon_rolleyes.gif icon_razz.gif

Congrats Jeremy, here's to another 100.
7 years ago
This game does suck. My cousin got it for Christmas but the system is retarded:

You can't get a job because your depressed and your depressed because you can't buy anything....becuase you dont have a job. My cousin is saving aup for a toilet but out of 4 people,only 1 works. The dogs just sit and woof at the letterboxes till they die (which is every 2 hours) and the game is reallly glitchy.
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