The Sims 2: Pets
10th Dec 2006 | 12:30
Remember how in 2002 there was an expansion pack for The Sims called Unleashed? It had pets in it - really oddly animated pets. Well, here's your chance to buy it again, this time for The Sims 2. Also, for no reason at all, Hilary Duff is in it! Why? Because kids like Hilary Duff! Yay!
To be fair, this is probably the expansion pack Maxis were least unwilling to make - in fact, it probably only required minimal whipping at the hands of EA to produce. This enthusiastic approach to The Sims 2: Pets has resulted in a decent release, and looking past the mindless inclusion of Simlish covers of Pussycat Dolls songs ("flerpdee wah wah krakawaka woo woo" being an improvement over their actual lyrics), there's actually a lot of genuinely great content to be had.
The Sims 2 engine, which no longer restricts movement to tiles, means that dogs and cats can move about with a modicum of realism instead of running only at 90- degree angles like some demented autistic creature. The ability to customise your human characters has been applied to the pets too. Dogs can be big or small and of a wide variety of breeds, and if recreating the household pet is something you want to spend your time doing, you can tweak things such as hair colour, type, patterns, patches and even those funny moustache bits some dogs have.
DOG EAT DOG
There are a few other pets available, such as rodents and birds, but as is the case in real life, these amount to nothing more than interactive furniture. The cats and dogs count as family members, and while you can't directly control them, they have needs (such as the need to chew and scratch things). Through scolding and praising they can be taught behaviours, and through relentless training they can be taught commands - both of which are skills they can use to further themselves in their chosen careers.
These aren't like people careers (and not, as Log seemed to think, "driving tractors and stuff"), but animal careers, such as being a guide dog or a movie star. Sims fans would love this regardless of quality - what's really impressive is that Maxis have gone beyond our expectations of a Sims 2 expansion, to please players more than just enough to pry open their wallets. The detail lavished upon the original Sims 2 has filtered down to every aspect of this add-on; dogs piss in the kitchen, cats drink the mess, puppies struggle with stairs, cats destroy sofas, dogs beg at the dinner table - the needless detail will surprise you.
And if selling puppies down the pub is your kind of thing, you'll be well catered for here too. Breeding cats and dogs is as simple as patting them on the head in such a way as to not only suggest to them that you want them to make babies, but also which cat or dog you want them to do it with. After a romp in a kennel, the little ones emerge with the combined traits of their parents - often creating new breeds, something not scientifically accurate, but fun nonetheless. And yes, you can sell them. But no, you can't make cat-dogs.
So while it's a Sims 2 expansion, and while it's about pets, it's a wellmade, superbly polished addition to the original game. And there aren't many EA expansion packs we'd dare say that about.