The Sims 2: Open for Business review

  • Keeping a business going is a challenge
  • Theres a decent amount of new content
  • One word: Robots!
  • High monetary barrier to getting started
  • Difficult to build a customer base
  • Sim business is too much like real work

Well, it probably had to happen sooner or later. After releasing an amazing core game and two back-to-back, flat out great expansion packs, Maxis finally stumbled. Open for Business isn’t a complete fizzle - it’s still packed to the gills with that patented Sims humor, it offers some interesting challenges, and if you’re a Sims addict with $34.99 lying around it’s (mostly) worth it - but it isn’t what it should have been either.
On the one hand, there’s a lot of room for creativity in what kinds of businesses you can open - want to combine a froo-froo art gallery with a bowling alley? Hey, go for it. Practically anything that a sim can own, you can sell, and there’s also some fun to be had in developing new products. In particular, you can build robots, and the top line model can actually be added to your family as an autonomous being - one with its own freaky ins and outs. Plus, dealing with employees includes some quirks that aren’t exactly covered in business school (apparently, sexual harassment doesn’t exactly exist in SimsWorld). And, once you get a decent business up and running, managing it effectively, keeping the shelves stocked and the customers happy, has a certain satisfying rhythm to it.

However, that’s the first big problem: just getting a business up and running. It’s a cliché that it takes money to make money, but the barrier to entry for even the most modest of boutiques here is staggeringly high. In fact, it’s almost tempting to see OFB as some sort of cynical comment on current, real life trends of concentrating capital and a squeezed out middle class. You either need to have on one of those multi-generation sim families that’s amassed a lot of simoleans and is already wealthy, or, well, cheat. The obvious way to get around this would be for the expansion pack to include some sort of business loan feature, but there’s none to be found.

Second, once you get a business going it takes a long, trying time to actually have things take off, build a base of happy customers, and, you know, make money. Granted, just in game terms it should never be easy, but interacting with other sims is something you can do any old time in any Sims game (and Nightlife pretty much took that to its ultimate), so the simplistic “Normal Sell/Hard Sell/Dazzle” options don’t exactly add much.
In fact, in many ways it’s almost more fun here to screw around and just spectacularly blow it - savage someone with a truly awful haircut, for example. But again, that’s not exactly what Open for Business should have been.

More Info

Release date: Feb 28 2006 - PC (US)
Available Platforms: PC
Genre: Strategy
Published by: Electronic Arts
Developed by: Maxis
ESRB Rating:
Teen: Crude Humor, Sexual Themes, Violence

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