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Overview

The Sims 2: Pets is the title of the fourth major gameplay expansion for The Sims 2 on the PC, as well as several stand-alone games which have been released on multiple console and handheld systems.  Most of these versions were released simultaneously in on October 18th, 2006, and though they all bore the same title, they were modified to suit the limitations of their respective platforms.

PC

Unlike the three preceding major expansions which centered on augmenting the academic, social, and professional lives of the game's human inhabitants, the Pets pack has an exclusive focus on integrating animal companions into many facets of the existing gameplay.  There are a few different species, but since birds, fish, and the hamster-like "womrats" effectively function like sophisticated household objects, the real stars of the game are the cats and dogs.

Cats and dogs can join an existing household if a sim contacts the Pet Adoption service, goes to browse through one of the new neighborhood pet shops, decides to take in a stray, or if the player elects to create a new one from scratch. No more than six pets can reside on a single lot at the same time.
 

Customizing the coat of a new feline friend
Create-A-Pet

The Create-A-Pet feature allows players to customize every aspect of a pet’s appearance with an even greater precision than the human sims who own them.  Pets ships with over seventy preset breeds of canines and thirty varieties of felines, but every one of them can be physically altered in dozens of different ways to ensure that no two pets need look identical.

While the physical proportions are being set, players also have access to an extremely robust layering system capable of creating any pattern of fur coloring they can dream up.  It starts by specifying a general color for the base coat, but from there, multiple layers of differently colored patterns can be applied to blend different pigments into the sides, belly, paws, and ears of the critter to produce a nearly infinite variety of potential colorations.

SimPets have a personality matrix similar to human sims, though it’s somewhat more rudimentary.  Each slider for Intelligence, Energy Level, Sociability, Bravery, and Cleanliness has only three possible settings instead of the ten gradations for people, but these qualities will have an impact on the animal’s behavior and which professions it might be suited for. 

Just like human sims, every aspect of a pet’s physical and character traits are dynamically blended together during breeding and can potentially be passed along to offspring.
 

Aging

Canines and felines age over time just like their human owners, though they have only three discrete life stages.  Custom created, adoptive, and stray pets may start out as adults or elders, but a pregnant animal will give birth to a litter of baby puppies or kittens.

Infancy lasts for about five days, after which animals advance into adulthood.  Large dogs such as German Shepherds and Afghan Hounds age somewhat more quickly than cats and smaller dogs like Shelties and Pomeranians, advancing into the elder stage after about twenty-one days instead of the ordinary twenty-five for the others.

Elderly animals pass away from old age after a randomly determined number of in-game days, depending on how close a relationship they have with their human companions.
 

Unlike real life, SimCats can be taught to stay off the kitchen counter. Eventually.
Training

Dogs and cats in the game are independent, autonomous creatures that cannot be directly controlled by the player, so it’s up to the other sims to teach them how to behave.  When a dog is digging up the yard or a cat is being good about restricting the use of its claws to the scratching post, for example, a sim can be choose to scold or praise that behavior in the future.  The same is true of house training an animal: while cats are pretty quick to recognize the purpose of the litter box, players might find themselves cleaning up a few midnight messes until the new dog learns to go outside. 

Pets have most of the same Needs for food, fun, and companionship as human sims, with one exception.  Instead of the Environment bar which demonstrates how happy a character is with the quality of his or her surroundings, dogs have a certain desire to Chew while cats require something to Scratch.  They’re bound to address these Needs one way or another, so characters who wish to protect their furniture will want to invest in the proper pet toys. 

Animals can also learn commands in much the same way that toddler in the game can learn to walk and talk: through patient instruction and reinforcement.  Promptly obeying commands like Come, Sit, and Roll Over is the hallmark of a well-trained pet, and many of them are required in order for pets to succeed in the work place. 

If all else fails, sims can phone up the new Obedience Trainer to help address their pets’ inappropriate behavior. 

 

Jobs

Coming home from work to a loving cat or dog is nice, but living off the income provided by a highly trained animal is truly something special.  Pets adds three new career tracks specifically for smart and obedient animals, each with its own behavioral requirements.
  • SecurityStay, Speak, and Play Dead
  • ServiceShake, Come, and Roll Over
  • ShowbizSpeak, Roll Over, and Play Dead

When the wolf howls in the moonlight, it's on. Really, really on.
Werewolves

Similar in theme to the ghosts, aliens, zombies, and vampires introduced in earlier editions of the games, Pets adds the potential for sims to become infected with lycanthropy.  Werewolves are highly nocturnal, preferring to prowl around in the moonlight rather than sleep in bed, and can even chase down would-be burglars on their properly.  

Werewolves have a natural edge when it comes to interacting with other animals and can train pets how to respond to commands much more quickly than normal sims.  Changing into a beast after sundown can put a real crimp in one’s social life, as can the persistent, gnawing hunger, so characters who desire a cure can consult with the Obedience Trainer.

 

Miscellaneous Additions

  • Dozens of new pieces of furniture
  • Players with the Open for Business expansion may start character-run pet store
  • Nine new pop songs by real life artists, re-recorded into “Simlish"
  • New “Flatten Lot” option allows players to smooth out a whole lot in a single click
  • "Sledgehammer” Build Mode tool can be used to delete all items of the same type at once

Consoles

On the PlayStation 2, Gamecube, and Wii, The Sims 2: Pets is a stand-alone game which ditches the goal-oriented “Story Mode” of the earlier console releases and concentrates entirely on replicating the PC experience as closely as possible.  Both versions were well received for the AI and gameplay enhancements over the previous release of The Sims 2, but due to limitations in the hardware, a few differences remain.
  • Neither human nor animal sims age over time
  • Animals may breed, but rather than randomly blending traits from each parent, the puppies and kittens tend to look identical to one parent or another
  • There is only one neighborhood in the game, and an upwards limit on how many decorations and household objects any given lot can hold
  • Most animal-related objects are locked at first and may only be acquired by earning “Pet Points” by completing certain activities at the sim’s home

Handhelds

The GBA, DS, and PSP also received stand-alone versions of Pets, albeit with even more concessions to their more limited hardware.
 

Gameboy Advance

Where previous ports of The Sims to the GBA resulted in goal-oriented adventure games, Pets endeavors to recreate the same open sandbox style found in the PC versions of the game.  The player can create one sim and one dog or cat, move into a home, furnish it, and set about the routine of earning money to afford new and better appliances.

Dogs and cats also have their own set of needs, and satisfying them allows participation in the GBA’s variety of training and competitive minigames.  Failing to tend to them, however, carries no apparent penalty in the game, and pets will loyally follow their masters under all circumstances.

Pets for the GBA is played from an isometric perspective and has an art style reminiscent of the original Sims for the PC.  Many of the gameplay mechanics of the PC and console versions have been omitted, including the ability to age, breed, and pursue Aspirations and Wants.  In exchange, it adds a new conversation system in which the player must match up conversation topics as they slide across the screen, matching them up in order to enjoy a successful chat.
 
 

DS

The Nintendo DS edition of Pets adopts a 3D appearance, but recasts the player’s sim as a veterinarian responsible for treating a long line of patients suffering from maladies like broken legs and bowel obstructions.  It's structured entirely as a goal-oriented game with an added requirement to keep the protagonist’s Hunger, Energy, Bladder, Comfort, Hygiene, and Social Needs under control.
 

PSP

Pets for the PSP is a direct port of the console version, complete with the full 3D environments, Wants, and Aspirations.  The limit on available household decorations is slightly more restrictive than on the other versions, however, and the smaller cache of internal memory requires almost constant pauses while the game caches new information off the game disc.

Trivia

  • In Australia, Sims 2: Pets publisher Electronic Arts donated $1 AUS to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals for every new copy of the game sold in that country, with a pre-established minimum of $50,000.  The RSPCA is a government-run organization analogous to the independent non-profit ASPCA in the United States.

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