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Score: 9.2 / 10
On paper, does a
game where you have to worry about building a living environment,
sleeping, eating, your hygiene, cleaning, going to work and school, and
communicating with and caring for other virtual people sound like it has
the makings of a classic PC game? No, honestly, it really doesn't. But
when the Sims was released last year, it became an unexpected gaming
sensation, topping the sales charts. The Sims and its two expansion
packs have gone beyond a mundane description of their basic
elements to become an addictive gaming experience.
Now, The Sims: Hot Date is the first expansion pack that dramatically
revolutionizes the Sims gameplay. Maxis cancelled the title SimsVille
quite frankly because Sims fans wanted to get their Sims out of the
house setting and into other living environments without having to worry
about supporting a whole town's infrastructure. What made and continues
to make the Sims such a popular simulation title is that is does away
with the intricacies of building and maintaining a large city world and
instead focused on the everyday living needs of virtual people. The wish
gamers sought granted to any new additions to the Sims and its two
previous expansion packs (Living Large and House Party) is that they
wanted to get out of the house occasionally. In real life, we don't
spend all our time at work and home. We all need to unwind some time
during the week and have some fun by going to the beach, the mall,
restaurants and parks. Fans also wanted the ability to get deeper
immersed in the romantic aspects of daily life. Maxis gave its fans what
the wanted in the form of Hot Date.
Where Living Large and House Party were basically enhancements to the
original, Hot Date completely revamps the gameplay by making it possible
to focus more on social and romantic relationships and for the first
time get away from the Sims
it, after a while there was
only so many rooms you could remodel in your Sims abode or so many
parties you could throw (although having Drew Carey show up at your big
jam WAS cool) before the gameplay got a little stale.
You get the suspicion Hot Date is setting up Sims fans for one of 2002's
intriguing titles, The Sims Online, where much of what is presented in
Hot Date will most likely be available in one form or another,
albeit with online functionality.
With Hot Date, you can go on dates or romantic interludes with your
significant other. Or if you want, you can roam town looking for a new
love interest by visiting the new Downtown Area, which finally allows
access to another part of the Sims Universe outside your Sims dwelling
in the first major upgrade of the Sims gameplay since its release.
Be careful though. The only way to get your spouse or beau along for the
ride is to make sure all of their life functions are in the green.
Otherwise, you're on your own and that's when trouble can brew. I
find it somewhat astonishing that the game almost seems to condone
adultery among married Sims, because it gets kind of boring going to a
romantic dinner by yourself. Hey, Maxis figures, if your spouse won't
join you, then how about the gorgeous femme fatale stalking around town?
She's only one of the many new Sims Townies you now can intermingle with
Another bizarre occurrence that I came across was when my husband Sim
went Downtown without the old ball and chain for the lack-of-green
reason mentioned above. But guess who was there when I got to town?
Yep, you win the prize if you said his Sim wife. Don't know how she got
there, but it was definitely weird since I couldn't get her to go to
town in a shared cab ride. So much for domestic bliss.
Watch out for the old biddy in the gray dress walking around town. She
will gossip about you if she sees you behaving outside of the boundaries
of moral decency (like necking in the park), especially with someone
that happens NOT to be your better half.
The strangest aspect and the only detraction of Hot Date's gameplay is
the perplexing time difference between your house and the town. For
instance, you can leave your house at 5 p.m. for a little dinner. But
when you get to town it may already be 12 a.m. in the morning. Somehow
you are able, according to Maxis in its Hot Date FAQ section at www.thesims.com,
to make this benefit your Sims, but I haven't figured that out yet.
Maybe Dr. Who or that guy from Quantum Leap could throw some light on
the matter of uneven time displacement.
And the last minor complaint I have is that for some reason, installing
Hot Date knocked out the "unofficial" roach and nudity patches
I had installed with House Party. It's not a huge deal, but
spotting groups of those pesky cockroach critters running around your
Sims household that the patch did away with previously is annoying.
More objects and floor and wall sets are available with Hot Date. 125
new building resources allow you even more creative freedom for not only
your house, but Hot Date now allows players to build their own Downtown
areas. Some of the great new additions for those in the mood for love
are the Cuddle Couch, the Love Swing and the Love Tub.
You can also select a wide range of expanded social exchanges,
especially of the romantic variety. You just don't kiss; you have the
option to throw a little peck your love's way, or try and stoke the
fires of the heart with a fiery kiss. Kissing is only one of 40 new ways
to socially interact with fellow Sims. Also, now all those Sims who
are your friends are kept in your relationship menu, which gives you the
low-down on how you are getting along with each particular Sim friend.
Playing in the Love Tub will give you a chuckle. Instruct your Sims
to "play", and first one, then the other disappears under the
bubbling water. Good for a little juvenile laugh the same way viewing
Sims "playing" in bed is (Hehehe.hahaha.oh, okay, I'll get my
mind out of the virtual gutter!) This is a game that definitely earns
its teen rating for funny but sometimes bordering-on-risqué gameplay.
Maxis has also updated the building material menu. Now you don't have to
scroll through every piece of furniture to spruce up your habitat. The
beds are with all the beds, the couches are with all the couches.
You get the idea. This new categorization system makes building
structures much easier. It's a wonder it wasn't instituted in earlier
The graphics of
Hot Date are of the same high quality that all Sims players have been
treated to in previous titles. They even jump up a notch when you make
visits to town. The candy shop, where you can pick up a box of
chocolates for your romantic interest, has amazingly detailed visual
features. Each tiny piece of candy is meticulously realistic. Another
minor graphic touch that doesn't add any to the game's overall play but
impresses nevertheless is when you pay for something, the shop's clerk
actually takes your Simolians and then opens and places it in the cash
register. Again, that's nothing spectacular, but shows that Maxis places
emphasis even on the most minute of details.
Lower-end systems can get choppy graphically when you have a lot of
built elements, furniture and other objects in or around your house or
when too many visuals are on-screen when you are visiting Downtown.
Higher-end systems should have no problem handling the graphic
rendering, though. Sound wise, the music is up to the standards of the
previous Sims titles. And of course, the unforgettable language of
Simlish is present yet again.
The whole package comes together to create another magnificent Sims
gaming happening. By sticking with what works and adding what was asked
for, Hot Date is the fresh gameplay advancement that The Sims needed as
we near closer to the release of Sims Online. This is the jalapeno-hot
expansion pack that will get your Sims romantic juices flowing again.