IGN.com - May 15th From PC.IGN.COM "The Sims in Sims 2 are much more real and alive and players will have more opportunity to play with them." Said a pretty cool developer/producer/man of importance. The whole point of Sims 2 , is to create virtual people and a virtual setting that are both so believable they draw real emotion out of the players by themselves having expressing simulated emotion. The first part of this is a totally in-depth Sims and world creator, from which the rest of the game revolves around. Creating your own home is as simple as snapping pieces into place and then decorating. Creating your own Sims involves contorting, distorting, twisting, smoothing, and altering their appearance -- their very genetic makeup -- say Sims developers. Making their entire appearance up from preset templates called archetypes (Caucasian, African American, Chinese, Persian, and even an Elf, believe it or not) that can be altered in a variety of ways and then altered some more via a lot of sub-sliders, is a great way for Sims players to make Sims that they can relate to. The coolest result of this is the fact that however you choose to create your Sims determines what their family genetic line will look like as it is passed down to their children and their children's children, modified, of course, by whomever they marry and procreate with. Yup, this time around your Sims grow up, have kids, die, and swim in the hot tub. The point is to create a more cohesive, believable life experience. You raise the little buggers from toddlers into the land of the angst filled teenager and top them off with a wife, some bouncing babies, and hopefully a nice, long life. Raise kids? Douglass C. Perry, IGNPS2 thinks that's a little odd, too: "Taking care of kids is not fun. So why are you adding that to the game and how are you making it fun?" Sims producer: "It is about domestic chaos. It's a chaos simulator. Children aren't the main focus. It's not made to be tedious. It's made to be a challenge. Kids have been added for fun." But where is the fun in raising a child? The developers we spoke to mentioned that the children in Sims 2 are pretty much all of the good times and the crazy times without any of the annoyances. It's a happy baby all the time! And it's important to have these kids in here, since Sims 2 is pretty much about life, not life starting after 18. "The whole thing about the Sims is that they progress over a lifetime." It's not pointless development, though. The Sims 2, still as open-ended as the last one, incorporates "opportunities" that may or may not be capitalized upon depending on whatever the player wants to do. It's a way to include some objective-based "scenarios" that aren't actually scenarios. It's also a way of having a point to the game without cramming said point down the throats of potential players. Sims are gauged by life bars and a life score that tell the status of a Sim. Pass up opportunities like getting married and having a career and having children, if that's what your Sim desires (determined by what he or she has been doing in his life), and your Sim is going to suffer. The life status bar will tell if he's married, happy, achieving the career he wants, whether he feels his life is fulfilling, and it'll even keep track of milestones accomplished in the Sim's life. It's no longer about just making them indefinitely happy, it's about making them successful and happy and providing them lasting joy that will carry on to their children, provided you balance their needs with the needs of the parents and develop everyone accordingly. The entire thing is scenario based, but the scenarios are naturally occurring, so it's not like a jarring mission structure. You just live and stuff happens and you do whatever you do when that stuff happens. It's painfully simplistic, but then totally logical. Random Sims representative: "It's got to be relatively open-ended. We'll provide opportunities for players to take advantage of, but they don't have to." Of course, the game is still pretty much locked into the management of a single home. EA representatives admitted that the prospect of a fully interactive, controllable neighborhood was not totally out of the question, and that the real limiting factor is the artificial intelligence which would have to work around the clock and take up virtually all of the processing time normally reserved for trivial things like graphics and sound and regular play. But, Sims reps still concede: "Ultimately we would love for that to be the gameplay... Yeah." Just not now, seeing as how the engine is already doing a hell of a lot more than even I thought it would be capable of. The graphical remake is quite impressive. It almost has that Unreal Technology -like suave and polish to it where everything is vividly colored and there is a lot of detail all over the place, from the fully 3D, multi-story environments to the plugs that connect plasma screen monitors, to the detail of a Sims' shirt and shoes. Of course, all of this comes at a price. Right now the designers are intent on keeping the system requirements down so that the game will be accessible for players of the original (the mainstream market), but they were all quick to admit that Sims 2 is mainly for the enthusiast Sims player and that it "would not run on low-end systems." Those who want a guaranteed to run, easy to play experience will be better off with the original Sims title as that will still be around and will still be expanded to high heaven. "It's still really early on, what you're seeing now is our ability to pump objects into the game. We've really been mainly working on the technology. It's a brand new engine." This engine also supports tremendous scalability. This means two things: 1) Sims 2 will likely have even more expansion than its father. 2) Sims 2 will be very, very moddable. But, with all of this new technology and fancy graphics, you'd think there could be some problems with it outstripping the development community. Maxis doesn't think that's of any concern. "Our goal is to create tools to allow people to create their own experience. I don't think it'll be too much harder than 1.0. The real trick is making sure they can all be shared. The goal is to have objects ready online and easily slapped into the title." Indeed, technology will be released to help you create your own archetypes. And, the newly implemented facial expressions (remember, it's all about emotion here) will also work regardless of whether or not archetype is chosen or made. Yup, even with the extremely limited amount of time we've had with the game, it's already pretty clear that Sims 2 will be a surefire hit for the Sims fan and casual gamer alike. Additionally, the hardcore amongst us will also cherish it for its truly next-generation look and feel and its expanded gameplay.