Aug 15, 2007
The latest in the massive Sims series offers the familiar addictive mix of life management and buying sofas, but now with added soapy storylines. You'll still need to make sure your little people eat and avoid wetting themselves, but you'll have a plot to follow too.
Your first Sim is Alice Whitt, who lives with her dog Sam in the old house left to her by her grandfather. She's in danger of being evicted, but luckily there's a dog show coming up that could save the day. And so forth.
The inclusion of story gives the game an uncharacteristic degree of structure, which should appeal both to beginners and to people who have lost interest in the open game. In between making sure you're following the story you get Me Time, in which you're free to take bubble baths, watch television or try to have lesbian affairs with passers-by.
Moving through the chapters you'll unlock new items and eventually a new story called Midnight Masquerade. The narrative keeps you clicking just to see what happens next.
Created with laptops in mind, Pet Stories comes with a couple of clever features that should stop any screams of anguish on long train journeys. A battery indicator enables you to keep track of the power being sucked away from your machine, and you'll get an on-screen warning if your laptop is wasting voltage on something useless like a wireless connection, rather than choosing a collar for your miniature poodle.
For hardcore fans who are accustomed to playing God, the whole thing can feel like a huge training level. You want to go and investigate your fridge but instead you have to go to a community lot to register for the pet show, or poke the old lady hanging around your living room. Luckily the Arbor Falls option offers the tried and tested open play where you can create your character, choose their pet and then build their home from scratch. It's a canny inclusion that means the game covers all its bases, but if you've already got the Sims 2 Pets expansion pack it won't offer you any new thrills.