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Mix one hot young guy with one crazily beautiful single woman in a small apartment where nothing is private, and you have the latest Fox network reality show! Or you have Singles: Flirt up your Life, an adult's only-rated title where getting lucky takes on an entirely different meaning than in most games.
Anyone who has played The Sims will recognize the basic gameplay elements and controls. You have to work your job, clean your house and buy bigger and better furnishings as you go. And you have to balance both apartment denizen's needs and desires. You have to help the young couple get along by sharing chores and duties, bringing in money and taking time to play games, watch TV and flirt. In the game, as in life, you will quickly learn that it's easier to build up your house than it is to build up a relationship.
Forget to vacuum one to many times, and it's no nookie for you.
Unlike censored games, which is about any other title on the market, anything goes here. Your beautifully created characters, complete with freakishly realistic facial animations, will be fully nude when in the bathroom or shower, or changing clothes. Later in the game if things get really friendly, you can fool around in an extremely soft porn kind of way.
But don't think it's easy. I spent seven hours before my couple would even agree to go past first base. Try to push things too fast, and someone will get embarrassed or angry. Working on real relationships is a lot easier, which makes this relationship sim more true to life.
It's fun to see your character's reactions when playing. When you have one of your characters remain naked after a shower and walk out into the common living room, they quickly become embarrassed and rush to their dresser to change. Because of this degree of freewill, you can't jump right into bed to find the "good parts" of the game.
I will say this. Other than the sex and sexy nature of the game, there is not too much to differentiate it from The Sims. When I first started playing I was like "Well, I am sure Electronic Arts is going to sue Eidos over this." It was that similar. I even talked to my contact at Eidos about this.
Her take, and since I don't see any lawsuit news I assume this is EA's take as well, is that the two games compliment one another. Apparently the whole "house building" interface is common enough now that it is in the public domain. And while Singles concentrates mostly on relationship building with everything else sort of a side quest, The Sims has relationship building as only one small part of the overall game.
Plus, I always thought it was a huge cop out on Sims developer Maxis's part to blur things out when someone takes a shower or gets friendly with another character. Perhaps if they showed a little more skin, or at least gave people that option, their online game would not have been such a failure.
It is being distributed in an odd way. You can't buy it in stores. But you can download a free trial version directly from Eidos. Then if you like the game, you can pay $29.99 to get the full version from Eidos.com.
So, Singles: Flirt Up your Life will likely find an audience. Those of you who want to see computer sex will be disappointed at having to nurture your relationships for hours on end to make that happen. But those of you who want to play a Sims-like game but with an adult theme will love this one.
Also, there is one lesbian and one gay couple you can play, so everyone under the rainbow is welcome here. And let me tell you, most guys will want to have a cold shower handy when your steamy lesbian couple's relationships heat up. This is not rated Adults Only by the ESRB for nothing, though if you are over 18, its all in good fun.
John Breeden II is the Chief Editor of GiN. While a forward thinking man he admits to a fondness for older video games. You should have seen him at Videotopia. John can be contacted at : firstname.lastname@example.org.