US Release Date: November 14, 2001
ESRB Rating: T
Price: $29.99 at Amazon.com
On paper, The Sims doesn’t sound interesting: you guide the lives of Sims (the people in the game) to furnish their houses, obtain jobs, form relationships, and go to the bathroom. But for a lot of people, it becomes addictive. You can become attached to your Sims, concerned about their well being; financial, physical, and emotional. It also helps that many of the features of The Sims are done in a tongue-in-cheek style, from the funny descriptions of the various objects around the house to the swelling music when two Sims fall in love. The newest addition to this is the Hot Date Expansion Pack.
Hot Date focuses on the social aspect of the game. Your Sims have more flexibility in relating to other Sims, from how friendly a greeting can be (a wave, a handshake, a friendly hug, or a “very friendly” hug) to the subjects they can talk about (the 60’s, crime, technology, or travel). How you gauge the contacts your Sims have has also changed. Replacing the status bar on the health of a relationship are two status bars, one on how things are going at the moment and another on how the relationship is going as a whole. The biggest improvement that comes with this new expansion is the Sim Downtown.
Downtown is a collection of shops, restaurants, and clubs that your Sim can take a date for excitement and fun. As on a real date, there are plenty of places to spend money: dinner, chocolates, and jewelry. You can take the date dancing, for a drink, or to play video games. How successful these activities are depends on what type of personality your Sim date has. There’s even a park with a duck pond for those cheap Sims. What is especially nice about visiting Downtown is when you return to your house, the time is exactly the same as when you left. There is even a vacant lot in Downtown so you can build your own date club or restaurant (assuming you have the cash).
Unfortunately, the engine driving The Sims hasn’t been improved upon much, so many of the problems people have had with the game will still be there. Even on high-end systems, the game can slow down. I believe it’s high time for The Sims 2. But Hot Date does add good replayability to a game that does have flaws, but is still fun to play.