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Publisher: Aspyr Media    Genre: Simulation    Expansion For: The Sims
Min OS X: Any Version    CPU: G3    RAM: 192 MB    Hard Disk: 750 MB

The Sims: Unleashed
January 30, 2003 | Michael Phillips

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In the beginning, my Sims could get up in the morning, go to work, come home with a paycheck, buy things to make their house pretty, go to bed and then start things all over again. That was it. Then, my Sims were given the means to throw grand parties, complete with dance floors, DJs, caterers and other forms of bawdy entertainment. My Mad Scientist Sim has been known to throw a kickin' rave in his day. After parties came a Downtown cab service, allowing my Sims to dress up and step out on hot dates. Is anything cuter than Sims in love? A monkey donning a bathrobe MIGHT be cuter, but I digress. After all the dating, my Sim neighborhood became a glut with Sim children, thus Vacation Island opened for business. On Vacation Island, entire Sim families can frolic and enjoy each other’s good company. Of course, once the vacation’s over, it’s back home to dullsville. Rave parties can only take one so far into the realm of bliss before even they become passé. That’s right, I said passé, deal with it.

So, what’s next for Sims everywhere? Is there anything left? There have been 4 Sims expansion packs thus far, so what could possibly be remaining to expand upon? As long as Will Wright and the cats at Aspyr Media still draw breath, of course those cheeky Sims will have new things to experience! The latest Sims expansion pack, The Sims Unleashed, adds several things to the original Sims game, the grandest being a new area called, Old Town, and Sim pets! We’re not talking simple (albeit deadly) guinea pigs; Unleashed brings cats, dogs, gold fish, various birds (or as I like to say, birdies) and even iguanas. However, does such a menagerie really add anything interesting to a game that’s a tad long in the tooth? Is Unleashed the pick of the litter or is it time to put The Sims down? The only way to find out is to pounce on that mouse and read on. I defy anyone not to laugh at my faux-witty puns!

How Much is that Doggy in the Window?
I’ve reviewed every Sims expansion since House Party, but I must say that Unleashed by far adds the most actual depth. Sure, new items, scenery and social interactions are fun, but they honestly only go so far. However, the addition of pets poses a whole new array of gameplay challenges.

First, we’ll discuss choosing a pet. In order to buy pets, it is first necessary for the player to direct their Sim to call a shuttle and head to the newly constructed Old Town district. Aside from various shops and parks that we’ll discuss later, Old Town houses a massive pet purchasing & adoption center. At the pet center, Sims can purchase small animals like iguanas, gold fish and lovebirds, oooh… lovebirds. Aside from the parrot and the macaw, which can be taught to speak and dance, these small pets basically serve as room decoration and fun for the kids. Oh, the iguana eats bugs and looks angry all the time.

Yet, for many Sims, the extreme excitement of watching an iguana sitting on a hot rock just isn’t thrilling enough. So, it is also possible to adopt a loveable dog or cat. The first step in pet adoption is choosing a male or a female, this is important not only for obvious naming purposes, but also for pet breeding. We'll discuss breeding a bit later. When adopting a dog or cat, the player also gets to choose from a bevy of 3D rendered Sim pets, everything from black cats to basset hounds are available. After choosing the coolest looking pet around, it's time for naming! Once the Sim pet is named (my eldest cat is named, Sena Robin), it becomes part of the family, thus taking up a family member slot. Therefore, any Sim who takes 7 cats into her home won’t have room for a husband and must resign herself to being called the “crazy cat lady” by neighborhood children.


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