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The Sims 2: Open for Business PC CD-ROM

Published by Electronic Arts
Developed by Maxis
Release Date: Out Now
Price: £19.99

The Sims 2: Open for Business, an introduction.

Just like The Sims before it, The Sims 2 has proved to be a tremendously popular game and has already sold millions of copies. What really added to the longevity of The Sims was the amount and frequency of its numerous expansions and it’s no surprise that although The Sims 2 isn’t yet two years old, it now has three expansion packs (four if you count the Christmas mini-expansion pack). The first two expansion packs for The Sims 2, University and Nightlife, gave us a new age group, enhanced dating mechanics, universities and new places for our Sims to hang out. The third expansion pack, The Sims 2: Open for Business actually manages to provide a whole new way of playing the game.

What’s the game about?

As the title suggests, Open for Business is an expansion that focuses on allowing your Sims to create their own business. Naturally, as with all of the expansions in The Sims series, Open for Business not only brings new game play mechanics to the original game but also a collection of new items. Once again there’s 125+ new items here and whilst most of them are specific to running a business, a fair amount of them can be used to improve your home. There’s some new styles here such as International, Storybook and Euro which will help spruce up your Sim’s home.

What’s good about the game?

The cynics out there probably thought that making your Sims run a business would simply involve a few new items that would allow you to sell stuff. Thankfully this isn’t the case and it’s clear that a lot of thought has gone into making Open for Business, a game changing expansion. If you want to go into business you’ll have a choice of starting a home business or purchasing a community lot. Whichever you decide to do you’ll need to purchase a cash register and some items to sell. There are several businesses you can choose from. You can run a salon, a restaurant, a toy store and a flower store amongst other things. Some business require you to purchase your raw materials (such as the flower store) whilst others require you to craft your items (toy store) and stores such as the salon simply provide services. If you have the previous expansion packs installed, then you’ll have an even greater range of businesses that can be run.

What I really like about Open for Business is that it’s been well designed. You can hire staff to help run your business and just like in the real world you get good staff and bad staff. Thankfully you can hire and fire as you see fit. You can even set the uniform the staff should wear as well as set their wages. Some Sims that you hire will have related skills or a talent badge and you’re shown a Sim’s abilities before you decide to hire them. Having good staff is important because you need customer loyalty for your business rank to increase and poor staff will upset your customers and cause customer loyalty to fall. Your business rank is important because with each increase in rank you get to choose a perk. Perks are arranged into five categories (Connections, Perception, Cash, Wholesale and Motivation) and each perk can improve your skills and business meaning happier customers and more profit in the long run. There’s even visits from undercover reporters who may give your business some bad press if you they don’t come away with a favourable impression.

What’s not so good about the game?

Running a business can actually feels like a chore to begin with, especially if you’re starting from scratch with your Sim. If you are starting with a newly created sim you won’t be able to buy a commercial lot so running the business from home is the only way to go. To setup a business is expensive and to begin with you’re not going to make that much money. In fact hiring staff to help you with your business might not be an option until you have a decent income. Of course if you have more than one Sim in your family this isn’t really a problem (or, indeed, if you have an existing Sim who already has a lot of money to begin with). Trying to setup a business is a little confusing to begin with and neither the manual or the in-game help does a good job of explaining things in easy to understand terms. Accessing the business items in the buy menu is also more fiddly than it should be.

How does it look?

Like all expansions Open for Business doesn’t make any changes to the quality of the graphics. Rather disappointingly the game still seems to perform quite poorly on some ATi graphics cards (it runs worse on a X800XT when compared to a 9600 Pro graphics card for instance) which has been a problem since the release of the original game.

How deaf gamer friendly is the game?

Open for Business is just the same as The Sims 2, in regards to how deaf gamer friendly the game is so it’s fine for deaf gamers. The Sims still talk in their own language with icons being displayed in speech balloons to give you the gist of what they are saying. Help messages that are appropriate to the new features in the expansion are shown in text.

Final thoughts.

The Sims 2: Open for Business is the best expansion so far for The Sims 2. Not only does it come with the customary 125+ new items, it adds a whole new way to play the game. In fact it turns the game into a light hearted strategy title that acts as a nice little aside to the usual actions you get to perform in The Sims 2. Even if you aren’t usually lured by the expansion packs, this one is definitely worth a look. No longer will work be an abstract activity in The Sims 2 and although running a business is not very rewarding to begin with, you’ll soon be raking in the simoloens once you’re established.

Overall Game Rating: 8.1/10

Deaf Gamers Classification:

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The Sims 2: Open for Business in the best expansion yet for The Sims 2, as it offers a whole new way to play the game. A must for Sims fans.