TS2: Apartment Life Preview

On Friday, May 30th 2008, I was at EA headquarters in not so sunny Redwood Shores, California (for my lucky 7th visit), this time to preview Sims 2 Expansion Pack number 8! You probably already know this pack as Apartment Life, but I don't think the name will have really given you even half the idea of what this pack will bring to your game, so I'm guessing you are here to find out more!

I should warn you in advance that this is probably my most in depth EP preview ever, and as such includes many spoilers. If you are so excited about Apartment Life that you are looking for as much juicy info as you can, then read on. If you prefer to explore a new EP to find all the hidden treasures yourself, you might be as well to scan through the headers and skip to the conclusion at the end of the article.

Disclaimer stuff: As usual, this preview has been written based on an early Alpha build of the game, so some of the content I talk about might not even make it to the final version, or might be edited or enhanced. Many objects don't yet have their proper names or bios and some were still only placeholders, so will not be included.

Meet the Neighbors

Let's start by taking a look at the new 'hood. Welcome to Belladonna Cove!Absolutely no point in showing you what it looks like right now because it will certainly change, but I can show you some of the new Lots and Plopables ('hood decorations) that you will see in AL.

First up is a celebration of the name of the hood, and someone you might recognise this statu which will tower over the hood for all to see. This is one of the more elegant items, the rest are pretty much scrap and rubbish. Literally. You see, Apartment Life conjures up the image of comfortable accommodation, but this pack has also been designed to accommodate those people that have wanted to build trailer parks and other low-grade areas. We will look into those in more detail later, but so that they fit in with their surrounding, you will now find Plopables such as alleyways and trash piles that can be used to really bring an area down.

And what of the residents of Belladonna Cove?

Well, the story is still being created but the sample ones we saw suggest that there will be a wide variety of wacky families for you to interact with as usual.

Some new Lots are thrown in as usual which include 2 Secret Lots (more later), some great Community Lots such as the Library, new Coffee Shops and Grocery Stores and lots of Parks, all designed to suit a range of classes of society. Some great new residential homes are a result of the new build mode features that we will see soon, but one Lot of note which must be seen by all is the reproduction of San Francisco's very own Painted Ladies. A different family can live in each of the identical houses. Gorgeous, no? We all loved the illusion of being built on a hill!

Now you've met them, it's time to interact!

With AL, your Sims will be spending much more time with others, so it's right that we be given some new ways to interact with them. New to this pack is the ability to share gestures with other Sims, including High Five, Earthy Hug, Fake Out, Kiss Kiss Darling and Tough Handshake. Kids can torment each other with hilarious animations and all ages of Sim can now dance the Classic Dance (until one steps on the toes of the other). Sims can play alone with the new Jump Rope (Skipping Rope) and toddlers have a new toddler on toddler interaction of Huddle. Maximum cuteness guaranteed!

This might be a nice time to mention a new behaviour too, although it's not an interaction as such. Very low aspiration Fortune Sims will often be seen whipping out a pot and begging from other Sims for their spare change. It's pathetic, but I've long been a fan of Schadenfreude (gaining delight in someone else's misfortune), so it made me smile :-)

Apartment Life (er.. this IS where the EP gets its name)

I guess we should get on to the idea of what this EP is all about. Although the name suggests living in an apartment, the flexibility of the game (as always) allows you to use your own imagination to take your Sims wherever you want to take them. I have already used the example of Trailer Parks but you can use any situation where you want multiple families to share a Lot without them having to merge, like the Painted Ladies Townhouses, or sheds in a park if your Sims are uber poor!

You can have up to 4 families living on a single Lot, although you can build more apartments/accommodations than that, allowing for NPC's to move in around you. If you have a block of 6 bedsits, after you move in, other Sims will take the rooms around you. You can visit them, build relationships with them and even complain about them, but you can't control them.

In fact, you will only ever control one family when you are on a Lot (you choose which one when you load it up, as can be seen from the family selector screen here). Your other families will be around so you can build relationships with them still, but you can't control them.

The process for renting an apartment is very much the same way that you choose a room at a hotel in Bon Voyage, so may well be familiar to you. On entering the Lot for the first time you can click on the apartment doors and see what the rent will be for claiming it. Once you claim your chosen accommodation, a week of rent is pre-paid and your Sims move in to their new digs. The landlord will make a timely appearance to welcome you and let you know to call him should you have any problems or repairs that need attention. You see, one of the luxuries of having a landlord is that he will take care of broken items, so you don't have to. He calls regularly and checks out all the accommodations on his Lot.

Build Mode is disabled in rented accommodation so you can't go ripping out walls or adding extra rooms, but you can change the décor so wallpaper and floors are about your limit. You can of course buy as much as you can cram into your own space. Now would be a great time to show you some of the fantastic new objects that have been introduced which are 'shared accommodation' friendly.

The Murphy Bed is a space saving delight which folds up against the wall when not being used. The Trash Chute saves you having to take your trash all the way downstairs if you are in a high-rise block, and the new mailbox has a 'pigeon hole' for each of the residents, and a note box for the landlord.

The Murphy Bed, Trash Chute and Apartment Mail Box


You can offset the cost of renting a large, maybe even multi story apartment by taking on a roommate. Advertise in the local paper or search online for a perfect partner to move in and help with the rent. They won't bring any new objects (you have to provide the furnishings) but they will help with relationship scores and chores around the house.

Pick one that's got high scores in cooking and cleaning and they can be a great help! You don't have any control over your roommate but you can see their satisfaction in the roomie satisfaction screen in their bio, shown here.


I mentioned earlier about complaining about apartment neighbors. This can be a result of noise coming from next door (your Sims have an interaction to bang on the wall when noise occurs), or if they are particularly smelly, leaving rubbish lying around. I'm yet to resort to this, but I'll post more info and screens when I see it.

Later on you will see how having the Pets EP will add a new dimension, but just in case you don't, you might like to take advantage of the new apartment friendly dogs that live in a suitable pen. These little 'lap dogs' need to be fed, cleaned and played with but will give back love, affection and fun to anyone where space or access to a yard is limited. A nice touch, and some great animations for the interactions. And no Pets EP required! Currently there are 4 varieties to adopt, all of which you can name when you choose them.

Social Change

Here's some info I found in the Sim Encyclopaedia that might interest the serious relationship builders in the game!

Sims can now develop reputations based on how they interact with the other members of the neighbourhood. The way you choose to socialize can have a drastic effect on how other Sims view you. For example, depending on your Sims reputation, he or she may receive a slight relationship boost or penalty upon meeting someone new. Performing friendly socials will increase reputation, while unfriendly socials will lower reputation. You can view your Sims' reputation in their personality panel.

There are new Social Groups in AL. Each group has some identifiable characteristics like a greeting and a unique story interest. They tend to dress a certain way too. You may find that the Sims from a certain social group can be found in greater numbers in certain areas of town. Learning how to greet them and what their interests are can increase your Sim's pool of friends.

OK, sharing a Lot and socials/relationships are great and I could go on about it for ages, but lets move on to some other exciting stuff...

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