EA to release The Sims 2: Body Shop for free

A create-a-character tool for The Sims 2 will be available for free in May - months before the full game is expected to hit shelves.

Body Shop will allow players to create new 3D Sims from scratch, with it being possible to tweak hairstyles, facial features (such as nose length, eyebrow thickness and chin shape), body textures and even clothing patterns, for which you'll need access to an image-editing program such as Microsoft Paint or Adobe Photoshop.

The application will be purely based around visuals though: characteristics such as personalities or family lines can only be tinkered with in the Create-a-Sim mode in the final game. However, all characters designed with the tool can be exported into a file that can be traded with other players via email or posting on the web.

The Sims 2: Body Shop will be available to download from the from 10 May. The full game is expected to hit shelves in September