The delightfully off-kilter reality of The Sims 2 continues to expand ever and ever closer to our own. First, they got their own colleges and universities. Not long afterwards, they had learned how to operate their own businesses. And somewhere in between, they hit their own downtown nightlife to sing karaoke (badly) and play WooHoo in a photo booth (loudly).
Yet during all that impressive progress, the only addition fans of the series really clamored for was... Pets. So now that they've finally gotten what they wanted, will they be satisfied?
Depends on the fan. If you're a casual player just looking for some furry / feathery accessories to your Sim household, as well as the humorous new actions and animations that accompany them, you'll love this latest expansion pack. Golden retrievers, poodles, beagles... tabbies, calicos, tuxedos... parrots, cockatoos, macaws. Practically every breed of dog, cat and exotic bird you could ask for is here, realistically brought to life and available for immediate purchase or adoption. In a wink to the beloved guinea pig of the original Sims, you can even own a rodent-like Womrat.
Plus, the stuff you can do with your companion does not disappoint. Buy them toys like catnip mice and rubber bones, teach them commands like "play dead" and "shake hands," put them to work in security and showbiz careers, or simply sit back and watch them dig up your garden, scratch up your furniture and then chase a skunk around the driveway.
And, yes, the dog will eat your homework.
The constructionist Sims 2 fans - you know, the ones who spend more time building elaborate homes and designing elegant fashion than they do playing the main game - will also be happy with Pets. Cats and dogs are customizable to a seemingly infinite degree. You can adjust everything from ear length to snout size to tail fluffiness. Can't decide between blue or green eyes for your Persian? Give her one of each.
The fans that won't be satisfied, however, are those hungry for fresh gameplay. By adding entirely new sections to the Sims' world ala University and Nightlife, or incorporating a completely different way of life ala Open For Business, the previous packs have set the bar for expansion high - much too high for a cute and cuddly, but ultimately superficial, makeover like Pets to reach. Players looking for deeper control, for example, will be disappointed to find that they can't control Fluffy or Fido directly, but must influence them indirectly through reward and punishment.
Honestly, The Sims 2 Pets doesn't do anything to revolutionize the aging simulated universe. Your Sims will still go about their day-to-day life and business in pretty much the same way they did before. But by adding yet another layer of realism with the presence of animals - dogs barking in the distant night, cats napping on the couch, rodents running in their squeaky wheel - your Sims' world becomes richer and, thus, your gaming experience more enjoyable.
Just watch out for the strays with glowing eyes. Those turn you into werewolves.