The Sims
Bustin' Out

Format: PS2
EA Games/Maxis
Age Restrictions: 7+

The Sims are making a return to the console and this time they're Bustin' Out of the house and exploring all-new locations around town. Now you can play, work and socialise with a cast of 25 new characters and climb through a dozen new careers. Along the way, you can unlock and collect over a hundred new objects and social moves exclusive to the console. This new offering also features new integrated two-player gameplay and memory card support, in case you want to take your Sims over to a friend's house and show them off...

Bustin' Out is the second Sims game for the Playstation 2. If, like me, you are a bit of a Sims fan then you are probably still a little peeved that the first console conversion wasn't anywhere near as good as the previous PC offerings.

This latest edition has been designed more with console users in mind. You also get the option to visit your friends as well as invite them round to your place. No longer is it the case that your career choice doesn't really matter. Bustin' Out's career paths will lead you to different environments, each with their own residents. On the road to becoming a movie star? Then you'll have to live in a spooky, haunted old mansion; Starting off as a burglar? Then you'll soon be calling the the local gym your new home. But, should you fall on hard times, you can always move back in with mum - just try to remember to call her every once in a while.

And, while you're driving all over town, visiting your new friends, you'll need to look the business. Again, depending on your career and how far up the ladder you've risen, you can choose to drive any number of vehicles including a scooter, beach buggy, hot rod or sports car.

The great thing about being able to visit other households is that you can check out some of the more expensive bits of equipment before you buy them. In fact, if you know someone has a holographic games console, or a swimming pool, it's worth driving over to their place just to keep your "Fun" levels high. You can also hook your PS2 up to the phone line and play with other like-minded gamers, for that added touch of realism.

There are a few bugs that should have been ironed out. Occasionally the gameplay freezes for a few seconds, or slows down considerably, which can be very frustrating. Also, for no apparent reason, it is very often impossible to get into your mode of transport (bike, car etc). But, if you move your on-screen cursor around for a while and then place it back on the car, you are allowed access to it once again.

At first I wasn't overly impressed with the character generator - for some reason the majority of the male faces you can make look a little effeminate. But then I am probably being a little over critical as I am used to having a proper avatar of my real body when I play the PC version of other Sims games (courtesy of BT's avatar generator that was scanning people's bodies at The Millennium Dome).

The music is not a patch on the original PC version - which had some really great background tunes - but it still does the trick.

But, these are tiny niggles and certainly won't spoil your enjoyment of the game too much. Not only is this the best version of series on the PS2, but it is also one of the best versions of the game released so far. Those who were starting to get bored with the slow moving pace of the PC games have a whole new experience to look forward to with Bustin' Out.

Live the life you'd always dreamed of through your Sim. Bustin' Out takes The Sims to a whole new level!

Darren Rea

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