TS2: Seasons Preview

On Friday 1st December 2006, I was invited back to Electronic Arts in Redwood Shores for a Community Event to have a preview of the upcoming Sims 2 Expansion Pack, 'Seasons'. These events are great for our community as they allow us, the fan sites, to be first to present you with all the information you want to know about the upcoming expansions. We can see the packs from a Sims players' perspective and will come away with more of the juicy details than a magazine journalist will do, so kudos to EA for keeping up with these events!

Although I have robbed some intro bits from my previous Pets Preview, what follows will hopefully bring loads of new (or confirmed) info to help you decide whether The Sims 2: Seasons will be on your shopping list this Winter. The shipping date by the way, is February 27th 2007, so it will make a great Valentines gift from your loved one (hint, hint). As far as we are aware at this stage, unlike Pets, this EP has a simultaneous worldwide release.

Disclaimer stuff: Please note that the version of the game we were playing was 'Pre Alpha', meaning that final decisions have not yet been made regarding gameplay and content. Features which I talk about here may not make the cut into the final release of the game. Likewise, other changes might make this info contradict the final shipped version of the game. Unfortunately, the screenshots had to be taken with a digital camera rather than "Print Screens", so the quality is a little lacking, but I think I cleaned them up quite well :-)

Larger versions of most of the images in this article can be found in my own Screenshots Collection under my profile.

The development team started off, as usual, by showing us Seasons in action, highlighting some of the main features of the pack and putting us all in awe of their creativity. On the left you can see Hunter Howe (mad as a box of frogs), one of the Lead Designers on the game, demonstrating Seasons to us. (That's actually a 17" Monitor. Hunter is very small).

After that we were given loads of play time to get hands on with Seasons, during which time I tried to gather as much information as I could to pass on to our active community, eagerly awaiting the release of this latest addition to our favourite game!

So dig in.. it's a long read!

The Fifth Expansion Pack

"Take your Sims outside all four Seasons of the year". That was the opening line from EA and I guess it pretty much sums up the objectives of this latest Expansion Pack, but as ever, there are many hidden extras and new tangents to send your Sims spinning off into, in search of that more realistic life that we play so hard to avoid!

After all, if you are sat indoors reading this because outside its cold and wet, you want to know how you can inflict this same misery on your Sims, right? Well now you can, but more on the details of precipitation later. Another headliner for Seasons is that it allows you to have more fun on home lots, which players invest much of their time building. Sure, community lots are cool, but home is where the heart is!

The main additions with Seasons are weather and gardening, with the wet and dry stuff adding an entirely new visual experience to the game, and the muddy boots bringing some great new gameplay options that will allow your Sims to expand their knowledge, their business and even their stomachs! As Hunter put it, "Classic Sims gameplay at its best".

Seasons also brings us a new neighborhood to delve into. Riverblossom Hills gives us new characters like the Greenman Family, NPC's in the form of Penguins, a snowy backdrop and a whole world of new adventures for you to explore.

New build tools for pools, new buyable items for houses and yards/gardens, new careers, new social interactions, calendars, climates, skills.. new, new, new.. its all new, and its all here!

The New Stuff!

Other than the main features of the game which will be detailed later, lets take a look at some of the new offerings from Seasons.

The new visual experience I mentioned before comes from the amazing detail in the weather systems, especially that of snow. The developers have very cleverly made the layering of snow effects procedural (that's one of their big technical terms).

As a result, the awesome effect that you can see here where snow lays on the wooden decking, the handrails, BBQ and even the light fittings and door/widow edges, will also be true for custom content!

6 new careers are included: Adventure, Music, Law, Journalism, Education and the ultimate in slacker careers, Gamer! I can't wait to make one of my Sims a Space Pirate! Each new career path also comes with a fun reward object, such as the heavy metal guitar.

Pools can now be built with curves to create some amazing shapes, and a new Pool Slide object allows for more fun and frolicking in the water, as do new games and social interactions like snowball fights and Marco Polo.

New object sets are included as usual, which this time include decorative items for kitchens and bathrooms. Although these have no functionality, they add a dimension of realism to rooms (although the editing community have been doing this since Sims was released).

A few of the new additions to help with the daily routine include the ability to click on the Mail Box and choose to "Pay all bills" which will include any that have been removed and left in the house or in the snow (this saves having to go looking for them).

Needs will decay slower when outside, enjoying the great outdoors. This will reduce the need to keep running indoors with muddy boots, or generating excessive yellow snow (no, yellow snow didn't appear in the game, before you ask).

A great addition is that leftover food can now be put away in the 'fridge to be consumed later without going off. This saves on wasted food and money, and allows for instant gratification of quality food like Lobster, should you make up a batch in advance and store it away!

So let's check out the main features of the Seasons EP in greater detail.

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