the writings of a mind

Title: The Sims Unleashed
Genre: Management
Big Word: 
Strap: But we already knew that you canít recover an ailing relationship by adding a pet.

Another six months, another Sims expansion pack. Another six months, another £20. Another six months and Iím going to find Will Wright and put him into a poorly decorated house, turn off his free will, and remove all the toilets.

Since The Sims was released two and a half years ago, there has been Liviní It Up, House Party, Hot Date, On Holiday, and now Unleashed. Each has cost twenty pounds, and each has added about ten minutes of new buttons to the game. And people have been buying them all. Is it you?

It is? Sit down. So far, youíve spent £110 on The Sims. No, come on, listen. Lift up your chin and listen as I say it. One hundred and ten pounds. Are you really going to make it £130?

As with Hot Date and On Holiday, Unleashed adds a brand new button to the top of your main menu. Buttons for un-bought add-ons are left ominously greyed out, with disapproving messages alerting you to your gross oversight in purchasing.

The button unleashes the usual story: Simsville will have changed to include some shops that sell you animals, pet related paraphernalia, and rather oddly, a jazz and pool joint, and a farmerís market. Other subtle additions include the option to have your Sims do some gardening, fifty new jobs (in five careers), and the usual stack of new skins and houses. But really, the thing weíre all here for are the pets.

Once you trundle your digital friends to the new parts of town, you will be able to run about shops excitedly, stroking the cats, tickling the tummies of dogs, and chatting with the parrots, until you discover the future furry addition to your family. And then when you bring it home, you can teach it tricks, take it to pet shows, starve it to death, whatever you like. And indeed, the latter is completely true Ė no SSPCA will come to the rescue of an abused animal Ė it will just die. Bring on the crying children.

Like every other add-on, Unleashed makes a minimal difference to a game that we are now all surely getting tired of. The best part is the option to design your own shops and cafes, but itís not enough. Add-ons donít fix the ridiculously long times it takes to do ordinary tasks, they donít fix the frantic struggle to get to work two days in a row, and they certainly donít remove the frustration that sets in after about an hour, leaving you wanting to see what happens to your Sim if you fill a room with smoke alarms, and remove all the doors.

However, I know Iím wasting my breath and finger tips. This is the best selling PC game ever made, and you cretins are all going to rush out and buy it to look at the cute kittens. Whatever.

Margin Note:

As with previous additions, Unleashed allows you to adjust, rebuild, and redesign all the new locations to your satisfaction. I choose to fill the park with pinball tables and fridges, and then force my family to spend three days there with no food. They tired of the pinball quickly, and I think the rows of useless fridges added a delightful irony to their predicament.

 Impossible to recommend. Doesnít even feature a pet cash cow.


Tech Specs:

Publisher: EA
Developer: Maxis
Price: £20
Minimum System: PII 300, 64 MB RAM (128 for XP), 1.1 GB HD space, and a power source (it honestly lists this)
Recommended: PIII 450, 128 MB RAM, 1.3 GB HD space.
Multi-player: Sort of
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