Sims 2 Nightlife first look, movie and shots

Before treating us to a first glimpse of Nightlife - the latest Sims 2 expansion pack - the game's producer, Tim LeTourneau, gave us a brief sight-seeing tour of some of the awe-inspiring structures that players had created using the game's Build mode.

"This is the stuff that blows me away," LeTourneau enthuses as he paws over one particularly impressive architectural work of art.

"When I see the attention to detail, I mean, this is really beautiful and the fact that anyone can make this just using our tools really is..." He's quite obviously one incredibly chuffed producer.

But besides the satisfaction he gets from seeing players' handy work, LeTourneau believes that the virtual building blocks provided with the games are attributable for much of the series' continued success.

"This is why The Sims is so popular - about a third of our players use the game as an architectural toolset and so each expansion pack for them is just like giving a sculptor new clay."

So what wonderful new clay does Nightlife have to offer?

With the theme focused firmly on nocturnal diversions, hardworking Sims will be able to let their hair down by indulging in various activities at a host of nightspots, such as clubs (where most of the music the club DJs play is versions of Sims tunes remixed by Lemon Jelly), restaurants, bowling alleys and karaoke lounges.

Of course, packaged with each venue will be a selection of new objects, including a DJ booth, poker table, karaoke machine and photo booth - to name just four of the 125 shiny new items.

While all these new building materials will ensure that Sims with simoleons to burn will have a considerable amount of fresh Simmy putty to sculpt with, Nightlife also adds plenty to the game's simulator element, throwing in, among other things, a new life aspiration.

The new Pleasure Seeker Sim wants to live life to the full by experiencing everything it can. And there will be plenty to keep it busy - trying new foods, shaking its booty to the 'Smustle' and that perennial pastime, dating, which plays a major part in Nightlife.

A simple attraction system is in place to help identify likely love candidates (they sparkle if your Sim fancies them) and each Sim has its own list of turn-ons and turn-offs. So if you're looking for a good time you'll have to find the right buttons to press.

If two Sims are instantly attracted, interactions that would usually appear at a later stage in a relationship become available much earlier, effectively speeding up the whole process and helping to fan the flames of luuuurve.

Once a honey or hunk is hooked on a Sim's mojo they can proceed to woo the lucky lady/man/vampire by using a variety of tactics, such as smooching to a slow tune and stealing a sneaky squeeze of their buttocks. And how successful a Sim's attempts at making someone go gooey is monitored by a handy date meter.

And, yes, we did say vampires. Pale skinned night stalkers also inhabit Nightlife and, although Grand Vampires aren't playable, a Sim can be bitten by one and transformed into a neck nibbler. But, have no fear, there is a potion that can be consumed to reverse the effect.

Playing as a vampire does have its advantages, however. They can live in a crypt, sleep in a coffin and fly about as a bat - and their motives don't decrease at night. Unfortunately, if they venture into the sunshine for too long, they do run the risk of combusting.

Perhaps the most significant new addition, however, is the ability for Sims to own automobiles, which effectively eliminates the car-pool and generally makes a Sim's life a whole lot easier. It can even be used to indulge in a little backseat bump 'n' grind!

With everything it has to offer, Nightlife should provide Simthusiasts with even more colourful clay for their virtual worlds. New humorous life simulations will no doubt delight and entertain players, ensuring that the series will continue to provide welcome respite from our own cradle-to-grave stories.

The Sims 2 Nightlife will be released for PC in September 2005