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Singles: Flirt up your life PC CD-ROM

Published by Deep Silver
Developed by
Rotobee
Released - 9th April 2004
Price : £19.99

Now if we're being honest here the appeal of The Sims for most people is the virtual relationships that take place within the game. Yes you can do a variety of things in The Sims but it's the 'naughty' things you can do that keep most of the older people playing. Singles: Flirt up your Life in many ways is very similar to The Sims but is more focused on the development of the relationship between two people. Singles also increases the sexual activity and it's a fair bet that a lot of people will have seen the rather adult screenshots of the game that have been shown around the Internet. Is Singles a game just to tantalize young women and make young men harder than Greek algebra or is there more to it? Let's find out.

The game begins with you picking a young man and a young woman who you'd like to live together What you have to bear in mind is that unlike The Sims you don't get to create your character. You can only choose from 6 women and 7 men. Each of the characters have their own characteristics and mannerisms so take care when pairing the two up otherwise you might make it difficult for yourself in trying to make them get along. I paired the highly strung, neurotic Enrique with horse enthusiast and introverted Amanda.

Just like The Sims your characters have short term needs that have to be satisfied. Hunger, Comfort, Body, Energy, Fun, Relationship, Sensuality and Surroundings. These needs have to be constantly monitored to keep your character happy. You'll also have long term relationship ratings that will give you an idea of how the relationship is shaping up. Friendship, Romance, Sensuality, Fun and Trouble ratings are displayed and the development of these will affect the action choices that are available between the two characters. For instance, at the beginning of the relationship the only Sensuality action available is 'flirt' where in a fully developed relationship you'll get the action 'snog in bed'. Similarly the Romance actions simply begin with 'conversation' and eventually you'll be able to make them have a 'passionate kiss'. You may have noticed the Trouble rating and if this develops sufficiently it could spell disaster. Should the Trouble rating become too developed you risk one of characters leaving and when that happens it's game over. Thankfully if you keep control over what the characters get up to, you can usually avoid any major disasters although this is not always an easy task.

To add more food for thought, your characters gain experience points as the game progresses. These experience points are collected and every five or so gives you a skill point which can be used to improve your character in one of eight areas. Your character has skill ratings for Career, Humour, Cleaning, Repair, Cooking, Romance, Flirting and Slacking. As you would expect how you develop these skills will either harm or help your characters relationship. Improving a character's flirting skill will mean they'll improve the sensuality need of their partner much more quickly. Of course improving a character's slacking skill could spell disaster. Career is an important skill as increasing this will give your character a promotion and they'll bring in more money which will of course allow you to improve the furniture, appliances and look of their apartment, which will increase both characters' happiness in the long run.

We've mentioned that the game is a lot like The Sims but there are some key differences. The concentrated relationship aspect in Singles has already been mentioned but there are other differences too. First of all your characters don't go to work on a Saturday or Sunday so it gives you time to develop their relationship. I've yet to see a character wet themselves, which happens in The Sims more often than it should if you don't order them to visit the toilet. In Singles the characters will just take themselves to the toilet if they really need it. As your characters relationship progresses you'll get moments where real dialogue (and not the Sims like gibberish that occurs for most of the game) takes place. Some of this is smutty but some is actually quite useful and gives you further indication of how the relationship is progressing. The characters will also have to do more advanced household chores too such as putting the hoover round and cleaning the dirt off the dining room table.

A lot has been made of the adult nature of the game and yes it's true you do see them bonking and several actions are available when your characters are between the sheets including the act itself. As your characters are enjoying themselves you'll have the sheets move around to cover their assets. This mild censoring seems a little pointless though as during the game you can make any character go to their wardrobe or chest of drawers and strip naked and yes you can see them in the buff. Of course when they walk in the view of the other character they'll get embarrassed and run away to get dressed, unless they are already intimately involved and then they won't care. If they don't see the other character then they'll quite happily stay naked. When they get in the shower a steam cloud will cover their essentials which again seems strange. Reading various forums on the Internet I found that the game can be made more revealing by altering a basic text file so it's possible to remove those blankets on the bed and the steam in the shower if you really want to.

Unlike The Sims, Singles is in full 3D. Surprisingly the game is very demanding, more so than it should be and the frame rate wasn't smooth even on a Radeon 9800 Pro at a resolution of 1024x768. Sometimes you'll experience the odd delay when switching from one menu to another although it's not for more than a couple of seconds. You can't enable anti-aliasing in the game (although by editing a text file you can) and things can look a little jaggy. Still overall it looks good and character models in particular, are very detailed (clothes or no clothes) and are more realistic looking than those found in The Sims. With the game being 3D you have the responsibility of having to monitor the camera angles. For the most part they are OK but there are times when it can become tricky. Luckily you can disable the building walls and leave the camera at it's default height if you don't fancy messing around with it.

Singles is perfectly accessible for deaf gamers. Most of the speech in the game is gibberish and the nature of the conversations are displayed by the use of icons which are shown over the characters heads. The icons are actually more descriptive than those used in The Sims and you won't need to look up what they mean. As we mentioned earlier there are moments when some 'real' conversation takes place and this is done exclusively in text and you'll have to click the mouse button in order for it to progress. Likewise the game tutorial is also exclusively in text so once again you'll have no problems with it.

Whilst Singles is far more adult in nature than The Sims it's important to realise that the game is 18 rated and you have to put a lot of work in to see the sexual activity. It might have been portrayed as a seedy version of The Sims but in actual fact this isn't the case and the 'adult' material is handled in a tasteful way. You don't even have to concentrate on the sexual activity in order to enjoy the game. In fact in many ways it improves upon The Sims formula and is certainly more advanced in dealing with the relationships although it's a shame that the 'real' conversations seem to be the same and don't vary from game to game. It's also a shame that more locations haven't been included and that you can't create your own characters as eventually people will probably become tired or using the ones on offer. With the game being released for the lowly sum of £19.99 most adult fans of The Sims should give it a go because there is plenty more to the game besides the naughty bits.

Overall Game Rating: 8.1/10
Singles: Flirt up your life is one of those games where people will have an opinion of it before they play but believe me it's not all about sex and what we have here is a more focused version of The Sims that concentrates on the ever changing relationship between two people who live under the same roof.

Deaf Gamers comment:
Absolutely fine for deaf gamers.