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Publisher: Aspyr Media    Genre: Simulation    Expansion For: The Sims 2
Min OS X: 10.3    CPU: G4 @ 1200 MHz    RAM: 256 MB    Hard Disk: 2000 MB    DVD-ROM    Graphics: 32 MB VRAM

The Sims 2: University
February 22, 2006 | Michael Phillips

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Ahhhh, college; what a time that is in one's life. Leaving home for an apartment or dorm, no parents around to lame everything up: it's glorious. It's a time for learning about independence, expanding one's mind and becoming open to new heights of intellectual ecstasy. Oh, yeah, it's also about being broke, cramming for exams, eating cold pizza for breakfast and generally running on caffeine and sweet nicotine. College is also about bitchin' frat parties, doing keg stands, getting sloshed on Jell-O shots and scoring with mad chicks like there's no tomorrow! The college experience is varied and multifaceted like so many winter snowflakes. No two people "feel" college the exact same way. I'm talking about people, of course. Live, flesh and blood human beings. Digital people, the Sims that millions of gamers love so much, have heretofore been unable to experience the joys and indignities of college. However, such is no longer the case.

Thanks to the frat boys and sorority sisters at Aspyr Media, The Sims 2: University (TS2:U) has made its way to Mac OS X. This expansion pack for the wildly popular The Sims 2 adds a multitude of new features, the largest of which is the ability for Sims to leave home and attend one of three universities. So, the question is this: does this expansion add enough to warrant one parting with $29.95? For those readers who aren't particularly big on reading, I'll make the following laconic statements. Anyone who finds the general Sims 2 formula to be painfully dull and pointless will find absolutely nothing, save for a DVD full of misery, in TS2:U. However, gamers who love their little Sims, nurturing them and delighting in their antics, will flat out drop dead over TS2:U. It adds quite a lot. Everybody else should probably read on…

Gamplay: College Experimentation
The Sims 2: University is an expansion pack in the truest sense of the term. It takes an already incredibly deep life simulation and punches the gameplay several layers deeper. TS2:U adds three new University lots, complete with dorms, modest housing, trendy college cafes and clubs, new interactions between Sims, four unlockable career paths, over 100 new objects for Sims to enjoy and much more.

So, here's how things work: TS2:U adds a new age category known as "young adult." Teenage Sims who strike out to join the realm of higher education become young adults. Teen Sims, like my Asha Greyjoy, who busted out straight A's in high school will gain high scholarships to attend college, thus allowing them to perhaps ditch dorm life in favor of swankier campus housing, or to simply blow Simoleans on kickin' frat parties. Sims who like to party can apply for a Greek House charter, which affords such things as the ability to throw an orgiastic toga party. TOGA! TOGA! Toga parties aren't particularly different from The Sims 2's previous party incarnations, save for the fact that everybody wears a Greek-chic (yes, I'm sadly proud of that play on words) toga and that successful toga parties help raise a Greek House's status amongst the others around campus. Members of highly ranked Greek Houses gain bonuses, like the luxury of being able to pass out on the floor, but still gain a restful night's sleep.

College campuses contain a host of community lots for Sim students to enjoy. TS2:U provides trendy coffee bars, fashion boutiques, fitness centers (for our pudgy Sims), libraries and concert halls. Aside from entertainment and social interaction, these lots also provide Sims with opportunities for gainful employment. For instance, musically inclined Sims can pick a guitar and jam out for tips from the throngs of apathetic coffee house misanthropes. Sim students don't have "careers" like their adult counterparts, thus they can only garner spending dough through such side jobs and, of course, scholarships.

Let's face it, there are times in one's college career during which it's absolutely necessary to crack open a book and study. For Sims, good grades are especially important. At the end of each semester, Sims are awarded scholarship funds for their academic prowess. Grades are earned through completing class assignments, writing term papers and making sure Sims get to class on time. Thankfully, Sims attending college have a higher tolerance for activity, thus juggling classes, part-time jobs and the party scene is easier for them than their adult parents.


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