Review by trancejeremy

Reviewed: 11/21/06

Does an okay job of adding pets, but not much else, to the Sims 2

"I just met a pet and it was super cool!

At least, that's what a sim thinks when he or she mets a pet (or so their memory says). If you think pets are "super cool", then you should like this EP. If you think anything less of them, then you might be somewhat disappointed.

Pets is the 4th expansion pack for the Sims, which introduces pets to the game. That's pretty much it - there's almost nothing in the expansion pack except pets, except for one themed set of 50's space age furniture. No new hair, no new clothes, no new jobs (for sims, anyway). Just pets.

Gameplay:

While the name of the expansion pack is "Pets", the emphasis of it is on cats & dogs. Much like real cats & dogs are almost like humans, but not quite, so are sim pets almost like sims, but not quite. They have needs, but no aspirations. You can't really control them (unless you use a cheat), but you can have your sim try to train them. The personality of the cats and dogs are varied, but not so much as sims are.

Dogs come in two sizes, medium and small, while cats just come in one size. Not quite realistic, because the larger breeds like Newfoundlands are downsized quite a bit (they just don't look right as "medium" dogs, like in the game), and in real life, cats do come in big and small sizes (one of my cats is about 35 lbs, another is about 12), but understandable I guess.

They have 3 life stages as well. Puppy/kitten, adult, and elder. The lifespan is actually pretty much the same as a sim, and there is a aspiration object for sims which will let the pets add to their life. (Basically elixir of life for cats/dogs).

For the most part, the interaction between the sims and the cat/dogs is fairly impressive. There are all sorts of commands a cat or dog can learn. Yowling on command, sitting up, shake paws. These are all disgustingly cute when a sim child tries to teach a pet. Besides commands, cats and dogs can learn a lot of different behaviors, which is generally either praising or scolding a cat or dog after they do something..

For instance, they can be trained to be aggressive towards other animals, or friendly. Both have to be trained to not crew or scratch furniture. You can actually encourage bad behavior if you want.

There's about 3 different ways to show affection (awkwardly called "Give Love") and 3 ways to play with them (different between cats and dogs). For instance, dogs can play fetch, while with cats, sims pull out a feather teaser wand and the cat will try to kill it. Quite realistic, too, I use those to play with my real life cats, and the animations of the game is quite like how my cats play with it. They even try to kill it using their back legs.

That said, I think there could have been more. There's more than 3 ways to play with an animal in real life. And I think it should have been less standardized, that is, instead of sims being able to play with a cat with the feather wand, they should have to go to the store and buy different cat/dog toys.

There are some objects which animals can play with by themselves, but not many. Pretty much just a catnip mouse, a feather think that sticks to walls, and a chew tow. I really would have liked to have seen one of those balls in a cage things, among others.

Your sims can get a cat or dog in basically 3 different ways. They can either adopt a stray that comes by; they can call up a pet adoption service and pick a pet from a list; or you can create a pet in the create a family screen, and add it to a sims household. The latter allows you to create the dog or cat according to your whims. (Although, if you want a puppy, it's kinda tricky, because pet stores only sell adults and elders, and you can only make adults and elders in the game.)

The cat/dog creation is actually quite impressive, and I guess where Maxis spent more of their time. In a lot of ways, it's more like creating a face of a regular sim than anything else, you can choose various pre set things, then alter sliders. And then for the coat, it's more like decorating a car in a street racing game than anything else - you can add layers (markings, really) to a pet, of differing color and shape. It's not perfect - you can't do much with the layers except change the color, but there are a decent amount of premade ones. (You apparently can't make new ones, unfortunately).

Anyway, besides cats & dogs, there are caged critters. Basically fish, birds, and womrats. Basically you just buy a cage for one in buy mode, then have a sim "stock" it. Interactions with these are pretty minimal.

Graphics/Sound:

Nothing new graphically, except the sim critter themselves. They look pretty good actually.

Sound wise, there's quite a bit of new music, most of it by artists who appear on the Disney channel. If you like that sort of thing, you should be happy. If not, well, you'll be turning the music off like me.

And of course, pet sounds. Which sound realistic enough to confuse the heck out of my own pets. Especially the cat sounds. The dogs barking can be somewhat annoying.

Final Thoughts:

Even if you think that this expansion pack is just fine if it only had pets, I think it could have covered pets a little better. Definitely more toys and objects for pets to play with than came with it. So it gets a C+ from me, or a 7/10

Rating:   3.5 - Good

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