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Score: 4.5 / 10
II really and truly am surprised that
the rollicking success of the Sims (and it’s many expansions and sequel) haven’t
resulted in a landslide of “me too” games. This is where Playboy: The Mansion
steps in – a game that is like the Sims dipped in an extra thick stew of
testosterone and liberally sprinkled with busty ladies bursting at the seams
(when they have seams to burst). It seems like a hit waiting to happen!
Playboy: The Mansion puts you in the well-tread slippers of Hugh Hefner, founder
of the Playboy Empire, a company which just so happened to produce my favorite
movie version of Macbeth. As Hef, it’s your job (in mission mode) to build the
Playboy Empire from small beginnings by throwing
parties, schmoozing with writers, Playmates and celebrities, while at the same
time attempting to produce a killer issue and increase circulation. [Insert
Viagra joke here.] If that weren’t enough you’ll also get the chance to outfit
the Mansion with all manner of furniture and decorative do-dads. There’s also
obligatory cover shoot.
For all the dateless male teens hoping that Playboy: The Mansion is wall-to-wall
T&A… frankly, they’ll be disappointed. During cover shoots you’ll see cartoony
breasts, but it’s a far cry from the orgy of flesh you might have expected. The
graphics do reasonable justice to many of the real life Playmates and Bunnies –
admittedly I had to ask my twin brother if they were close. He says yes, I’ll
believe him. During the photo shoots the models are high res but during the bulk
of play (using the ¾ overhead perspective) they look fairly non-descript and
during some of the larger parties it’s easy to lose sight of the model because
they all look the same.
You only ever directly control Hef. From this position, you make acquaintances
and make sure everyone in the Mansion feels good about himself or herself and
make sure there are plenty of voluptuous women around to entice people to write
for the magazine. It’s like you’re involved in a big social engineering
experiment; handling moods, personalities, drives, intelligence, and even
astrological compatibility; striving to bring everyone involved to the feverish
understanding that you (i.e. Hef) are a god and that attaining the rank of
“inner circle” is tantamount to partying on Mount Olympus with direct access to
So, why am I so bored?
At least with mission mode you have a sense of purpose (although you might have
trouble caring). In sandbox mode, the lack of any kind of objective is cool for
about 30 minutes. Part of the reason is that I may be burned out on the Sims
formula: meet someone, chat, chat some more, tell a joke, dance, get jiggy with
a well-endowed model, and chat some more. It’s achingly repetitive. And dealing
with the magazine aspect of Playboy: The Mansion is interesting for a while, but
then it too gets boring. The same can be said of the photo shoots, which are
handicapped by a limited number of available poses. (This last point could be
addressed by updates available through Live.) Not helping is the music
selection, which ranges erratically from okay to “Pop my eardrums with this
ice-pick, please!” variety. For pure numbers, it’s close to what the Grand Theft
Auto series usually packs in, but the quality is lacking.
Before I pursue a more worthy game, I should say there’s some neat archival
material included in the game (old covers, etc.) but if you’re old enough to
remember any of them, you’re old enough to know better than to play this game.