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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- Security – Stay, Speak, and Play Dead
- Service – Shake, Come, and Roll Over
- Showbiz – Speak, Roll Over, and Play Dead
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.
- 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
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