Barking up the wrong tree

For once, it is mandatory to read the user's manual before installing a computer game.

sims disk 88 (photo credit: )
sims disk 88
(photo credit: )
For once, it is mandatory to read the user's manual before installing a computer game. After spending a long time putting the four CD-ROMs of the 2004 edition of Sims 2 on my hard disk and then installing these two expansion DVDs, I found none of them worked. Only after perusing the instructions did I find that Pets and Seasons may not be installed in the same partition of the hard disk as that of the basic game. I had to delete everything and start again - and gamers with only one partition (usually C) will be out of luck. Fans of Sims - the best-selling series that has spawned more than dozen add-ons since it first appeared seven years ago - will not mind, however, as they are undoubtedly addicted to the virtual, vicarious suburban lives they have established. While EA previously released an expansion set for the original Sims called Unleashed, the new DVD-ROM is totally dedicated to the adoption, breeding, training and care of dogs, cats, birds and furry imaginary creatures called "womrats" or even stray werewolves. Just as racing games let you customize your own cars with shapes, colors and stripes, your pets can be created from scratch. You choose the type of hair, fur or feathers, the hues and markings, the size of their feet and the expressions on their faces; if you don't like ready-made breeds, you can breed a poodle and a German shepherd, for example, or a myriad of other combinations to produce new species that don't exist in the non-Sims world. (The males and females breed behind closed doors, so don't worry about young children viewing animal sex.) As these pets require a lot of care, you are best advised to make them friendly, toilet trained and intelligent, but if you have a mean streak, you can easily make them monsters that chew on furniture, bite, growl, knock over the garbage can, pee on the sofa and growl at everyone. Sims pets can go out and earn a living too, in show business, as guard dogs and providing other services, which is a relief as you can make some money off them and get them out of the house during the day. The disk offers very little - no new neighborhoods or people - to Sims gameplay in general, as it focuses on animals, but it does include a large variety of pet gear. The animals themselves are extremely cute and lifelike. If you pay attention, you will hear dogs barking at night that you never noticed before in the core Sims 2 game. Seasons adds a great deal more to the Sims experience. Without it, days turn into months and years with mostly sunny and clear skies. But now you can introduce nature, plus rain, hail, snow, thunderstorms and four seasons a year into your Sims life. If you hate winter, for example, create your "year" with multiples of the other seasons. You can rake leaves in autumn, carry umbrellas, build snowmen, clear heaps of white flakes from the driveway and even run through these new environments with your cats and dogs, if you have already installed Pets; clothing suited to each season is also available. Vegetable gardens, fruit trees and fishponds that produce food for your own use are included, but this means not only less to buy at the supermarket - you must spray insecticide, weed and hold poles with bait. Elaborate skating rinks and swimming pools can be constructed to take advantage of the great outdoors. Six new career tracks - lawyers, teachers, musicians, adventurers, journalists and even professional gamers - open up new employment possibilities, and a new rural neighborhood named Riverblossom Hills expands the game's territory. Sims fans who are also animal lovers will probably love Pets, but those who are not will find taking care of animals as annoying as being a slave to those electronic pet Tamagotchis. Seasons offers more added value than Pets, but if you're not crazy about animals or nature, your purchase will have you barking up the wrong tree.