The Sims 2 University
2 game. It’s just as addictive as the original and ushers in a new young-adult Sim, four new graduate career paths and more objects.
Combined with recent updates and the expansion pack, The Sims 2 seems significantly more stable than before. When it first shipped we suffered crashes, slow performance and in-game bugs. The Sims 2 University is processor-intensive, so expect slightly choppy performance on low-spec Macs, or when exploring well-populated Sim areas. Despite this, it offers plenty of fun for the UK’s huge population of front-room god gamers.
You get to move your Sims into three different colleges (La Fiesta Tech, Academie Le Tour and Sim State University) for each of the core game’s neighbourhoods. You can create new Sims, take them from the existing pool of unplaced characters, or send existing Sims to their local university. As in the parent game, student Sims can live as members of a shared household, or single Sims can move straight into student halls (a single student can’t afford to rent a whole house). Halls have all the equipment you need to get through university, but beware – there is a rush for the best dorms and you must claim one as soon as you arrive. Gameplay in a large dorm takes up time because you are forever moving your Sim between eating and ablutions. Large areas like these are very processor-intensive. Opt for a small dorm for a smooth game.
While the colleges clearly reflect US academic culture, each one is its own area and lets you train graduates to be placed in neighbourhoods later, when they begin with better skills and career options. You can also build your own colleges. La Fiesta Tech and Sim State University are both fraternity/sorority orientated places, where joining societies helps you progress. Once you join one you can choose to move into the frat house, but it’s essential to keep working on relationships, as your society loses points if you’ve got no mates. Academie Le Tour, though, swaps frat culture for culture vultures, it’s equipped with two music venues, which your Sims can visit or perform at.
The colleges offer the full glory of student life: Student Union buildings, grocery shops (save on home delivery charges), shopping centres, gyms, libraries and coffee shops. Cash-strapped Sims can get a part-time job in a coffee shop to raise cash. Sims can even buy instruments and play in a band to make cash.
Life in a rented house starts off pretty basic and cash quickly vanishes just getting the essential learning tools. Gameplay is otherwise the same as living in a neighbourhood, but you go to classes, not work. Graduation is the aim of the game.
Sims start as freshmen, declare a study subject (from 11 options) and move through sophomore, junior and senior years (like a US college). You won’t progress until you have a bookcase and a computer for research and to complete a term paper, otherwise you may be put under observation, held back a year, or even kicked out. Then there’s exams you must pass to get an achievement-based grant to get you through the next term. The better your results, the more cash you get.
Graduation means a party, a picture for posterity and a taxi ride out of the game. Sims created purely for college are added to the available pool of Sims to be placed in a property, but keep their friends, aspiration points and any personal technology they have bought, like MP3 players and mobiles. This gives them a good start in life, as my parents said.
Like the parent game, aspirations matter, too: there are ten school-oriented aspiration rewards, such as “complete term paper”, or “do assignment”; others reflect goals, such as romance, friendship or cold hard cash. Rewards include pocket money, generating Money Trees, Thinking Caps, and a machine that boosts (sometimes) all your happiness levels. There’s also a romantic Love Tub, which is great for emotional contact and a little pixellated woohoo! (Hot Tub woohoo has a nice little cut scene to watch).
New in University is an ‘Influence’ system that lets Sims convince other characters to help them, so an influential character can convince another Sim to write their essays for them.
Clicking on a Sim offers a range of tasks: Sim’s with mobile phones can call their mates, or play with their gadgets. For free fun, choose the Streak option and watch your Sim victim strip to run naked and free. Sims can also engage in freestyle rapping, writing ‘that’ assignment, or a little yoga and meditation.
Like the normal game you can have a timed party with limited guests. You can opt for the usual house party or a sports party – sometimes even a toga party for your frat mates. Get a bartender or order pizza to help the party pop.
As with all the Sims games, weirdness abounds. In fact, it’s mandatory. Don’t be surprised by making friends (or enemies) with a Sim that’s permanently dressed as a cow. And beware that irritating cheerleader who wakes you up at the worst time.
University is a welcome addition to the basic game. It provides hours of obsessional entertainment, and a welcome dose of stupidity – why do students constantly set fire to their kitchens when they first leave home? It’s because student Sims can’t cook, clean or repair anything at all! They are a nightmare, and our latest college boy, Tommy Lee, looks tired, and needs help finding the loo. It’s well worth the cash if micro-managing useless people rocks your boat.