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Matt Keller
06 Nov, 2007

The Sims 2: Castaway Review

PSP Review | Sim Family Robinson?
Over the years, we have seen a variety of different Sims titles for consoles, but the overriding problem is that they have never really stacked up against the original two titles on the PC. When The Sims 2: Castaway was announced, we pretty much expected it to be the standard Sims console fare, but we must admit that we are somewhat pleasantly surprised with how the game has turned out – especially after the disappointing The Sims 2: Pets. That said, The Sims 2: Castaway has a number of technical issues and other minor annoyances that seem to stack up and hold the game back from being a truly memorable experience.

Castaway begins with the usual rigmarole of customising your Sim’s appearance, personality and other tendencies. The game then goes through a brief introductory cutscene of your Sim posing for pictures, with a large storm brewing in the background. After a handful of pictures, the boat is wrecked, and players find their Sim stranded on an unknown island. It is your job to make sure your Sim not only survives, but learns to live on the island before finding their way off the island and back to everyday life. Along the way, players will find hieroglyphics that form a part of a larger mystery on the island, find other survivors, messages in bottles from the outside world, and books that will provide more goals for your Sims to accomplish.

Hey baby, wanna see my mossy log?

Hey baby, wanna see my mossy log?
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The player’s experience with Castaway will differ quite a bit depending on how many Sims they choose to have on the island. You can go the Tom Hanks route, with just one Sim on their own – you will have to do everything yourself and your only company on the island will come in the form of animals and imaginary friends, but there will not be any petty squabbling. Alternatively, you can go the Lost or Gilligan’s Island route by having a group of Sims and attempting to live life that way – if everybody does their part to help out, life will go smoothly and your Sim family will begin to adjust to life on the island – Sim Family Robinson, if you will. Each Sim will need to be assigned a job, and fulfil that task as a part of their daily routine. Players should be wary of how they design their makeshift home – with a reliance on fire, that nice bed or piece of furniture you toiled over for hours can quite easily go up in flames if placed too close to any naked flames.

Players have to cope with the usual issues of The Sims – keeping Sims happy and satisfying their needs, but also must accomplish a series of goals. Of course, being stuck on a deserted island means that players will have to make do with what is available on the island – fishing and gathering fruit for food, clothes made from vines and leaves to replace your tattered threads, chatting with animals for the relationship aspect, and makeshift beds and fireplaces for comfort. Players will also need to improve their Sims’ skills in the usual areas, such as mechanics, in order to build many of the game’s items, and the game does not do a very good job of explaining what actually needs to be done to increase these skills. The game has a distinct emphasis on resource gathering – players can use these resources to build tools, clothes, furniture and makeshift transportation. The collection aspect of the game does get pretty damn annoying, but you can eventually train the island’s animals to assist you in this activity.

Castaway is pretty much open ended like all other titles in The Sims franchise, so the mileage you get out of the game really depends on how much you enjoy the gameplay. There is an overriding goal that players can build up to in leaving the island, but you’re never required to finish the game within a certain amount of time – you can pretty much just live life as you please. There is a bit of a significant difference between playing with one Sim, and playing with a group, so it’s definitely worthwhile giving the game at least two playthroughs. Castaway does have a number of minor issues with long and frequent loading sequences which will have a negative effect on player’s enjoyment of the game. Some of these sequences can be alleviated thanks to the game’s quick map, which will let the player jump to any previously discovered sector.

Tarzan ponders what he and Cheeta will do while Jane is away

Tarzan ponders what he and Cheeta will do while Jane is away
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One cannot really expect much of a graphical upgrade between Sims titles, but Castaway does look reasonably good, despite showing the age of the underlying engine. Some minor changes have been made to the characters in the game – they now sport taller, slender figures and are more expressive in their appearance. The game world is not spectacularly detailed, but does an admirable job of giving off that deserted island feel. Castaway does have a terribly cumbersome camera, which constantly requires interference from the player and takes away from the experience. Soundwise, the Simlish language has been expanded to include a bunch of new samples, which should give players with discerning ears a break from the usual diatribe. Castaway has its own soundtrack of tropical melodies, rather than just borrowing the music from the PC version of the game, as past console Sims titles have done.

The Sims 2: Castaway is something of a guilty pleasure – there is a solid game at the core, but it has got a bunch of niggling issues, both in its collection heavy gameplay and its scores of technical issues. Any player who chooses to stick with Castaway in spite of its issues is bound to have a lot of fun, which is more than one can say for the last lot of Sims games on consoles. If players are looking for a Sims game that’s a little bit different from the standard fare, than Castaway is highly recommended.
The Score
The Sims 2: Castaway might have a few issues, but it's the most enjoyable console entry for the franchise thus far. 7
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

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1 Comment
6 years ago
Mossy log?

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  Pre-order or buy:
    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

Australian Release Date:
  1/11/2007 (Confirmed)
Standard Retail Price:
  $69.95 AU
Publisher:
  Electronic Arts
Genre:
  Simulation
Year Made:
  2007

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