Another quarter, another Sims expansion, this one following in Nightlife's footsteps by being a sort of re-release of a Sims Classic expansion, Unleashed. It brings you to the world of your Sims cats and dogs, and unlike the classic version this time round it is done very realistically and with great depth, making your new furry friends great additions to the household.
The new pets are treated like miniature versions of your Sims: they have personality which wildly affects their behaviour; they have wants and needs, which if left unsatisfied can lead to disastrous results. This makes them a little more personable than the creatures from Sims 1, and a little more naturally part of your household as a result.
This Simonification extends to their love lives and work as well (did you like what I did there? Like personification, but with Sims). Just like with normal Sims, pets can meet, mate and produce offspring. The resulting creatures are a mix of the appearance of their parents and their parents' personalities, allowing a suitably interested player to create whole dynasties of pets, and engage in selective breeding. Again this adds to the realism, making your Sims’ new friends feel like a genuine part of the family.
Workwise a pet can pursue a number of careers, such as rescue animal or movie star. These roles, while without the extent of human Sim jobs of course, nevertheless add a little more complexity to the game and, in the early days at least, can provide a little much-needed cash flow. While cute, we found these jobs a little ridiculous. However, if ridiculous is your forte then this is yet another attraction to having your family liaising with a furry friend.
Apart from the seamless integration with existing households, one of the truly impressive new features is the pet creator. Essentially the developers have copied the existing Sim creator, with all its thousand options, and modified it to produce pets. With it you can mold a pet to look exactly as you want, right down to eye colour, and on top of that an innovative layering system has been built to allow you full control in your pets' fur colourings.
The way it works is similar to Photoshop’s layers function, and it permits you to make a pet of any abstraction you wish, from the mixed breed to the fruity coloured clown. If such complexity is not something you wish to indulge in however, a set number of standard breeds are available to choose from.
Apart from the pets, unfortunately this latest expansion holds nothing new. In this sense it is very specialised, adding nothing to benefit your Sims, although you could argue that the social benefits the pets provide are a definite side effect. Basically Sims 2: Pets adds flavour to your micro world, and warmth to otherwise lonely homes. One advantage it does offer is that it makes one-person houses (our preference) much more feasible, not only with the money pets can produce but also the companionship they provide to your Sim.
So getting this is a definite must for Sims fans out there. Because of the lack of content, however, it is probably advisable for beginners to grab some of the previous expansions, like Nightlife, Open for Business or University, simply because they include a far greater amount of Sim-altering content. But once you have those, Pets should definitely be your next stop.