Getting Some Sim Lovin’

Sims: Hot Date
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In the not too distant past, I was absolutely addicted to The Sims. In the past year, though, my desire for the game has waned as I have exhausted every conceivable option and action in the game. Then I received the Hot Date expansion pack, and once again I am hooked. This expansion pack is fantastic. There you are. That’s my review, no need to read any further.

I am going to write this review assuming everyone reading this has either played or at least seen The Sims. You must live in a cave, if you haven’t done one of the two. Hot Date gives you and your Sims new characters to meet and possibly date, new social interactions, new items and a whole new downtown neighborhood so they can leave home and visit.

The biggest addition is the downtown area. It is set up as a separate neighborhood. There are ten lots in the downtown neighborhood with nine of the lots already built on and the tenth one being an empty lot. There are restaurants, bars, clothing and gift shops, and parks. No one actually lives in the downtown neighborhood, you just visit. To get to the downtown area, you simply use the phone in your character’s home and call a cab. The cab comes and gets your character much the same way the cars pick them up for work. Then you pick which place you want to visit. If you don’t like the looks of anything downtown you can build your own lots, just like in the regular neighborhoods except that it does not cost you anything to build.

Hot Date also gives you plenty of new objects. Some items, such as the hot dog stand, comes with a worker to operate it. These objects that come with workers cannot be purchased for your sim’s homes. A lot of the new objects are things designed for two characters to use together, such as the restaurant booth. There are different social interactions to choose from when using these items such as "play footsie," "cuddle," and "make out."

Speaking of social interactions, there are 40 new ways that your sims can interact with their pals. Before, when interacting with another person you only had so many interactions, talk, joke, etc. Now, when you choose something like "kiss," a sub-menu pops up with different kisses such as "polite kiss," "passionate kiss," "fiery kiss," "suave kiss" to lay on that lucky person.

The downtown area is populated with new characters for you to meet. They are the "townies." You initially meet them downtown, but once you’ve met them, they appear on your phone list so that you may call and invite them to your house or on a date downtown.

The Hot Date expansion pack has added two new build mode tools. The grass tool gives you the ability to change the height and look of your lawn. The water tool lets you landscape with water to give your home that beachfront look or make that moat you’ve been dreaming of.

Last but not least, it would not be a Sims expansion pack without new floor and wallpaper styles, and new clothing options. The new carpet styles all remind me of Vegas, circa 1977.

With the Hot Date expansion pack, they changed the way that you play the game a little bit. Before, your relationships were gauged with one relationship bar. Now, each relationship is gauged with two bars, a daily bar and a lifetime bar. The daily bar changes quickly and reflects recent developments, while the lifetime bar changes slowly and shows long term progress. It takes longer to build a friendship up to 100 percent now. When playing the original Sims game, you could click "joke," "hug," "joke," so that the meter went up to 100 quickly. Playing Hot Date you have to work a little harder to build the long term meter to 100, but, once it is that high you don’t have to see that person as much to maintain the meter.

Another change is gift giving. In the original game when interacting with another person you could click "give gift" and you character would present that person with a little generic wrapped box. With Hot Date, you go downtown and purchase items to give to your friends. In the shops you can buy flowers, teddy bears, candy, diamond rings, and other gifts to use to buy the love and respect of your friends.

Building downtown is the same as building at home with a few minor exceptions. First of all, it costs you nothing to build or place objects. If you place certain objects downtown they come with staff people to use them. For example, put down a stove and refrigerator and you get a chef to use them. Stick a cash register there and you get a clerk to run it. Put tables and chairs and you get a wait staff. You get the idea.

They changed the object menus to make it a little easier to find things. If you click on the decorative category sub menus pop up for paintings, sculptures, rugs, etc… The categories you have in your downtown buy mode vary from the home buy mode slightly. You can’t purchase a bed or a hot tub for downtown. I don’t understand why, but you can’t. Well, they succeeded in making the home buy menus easier, but, the downtown buy menus can be chaos at times. I spent the better part of an hour trying to find a lousy mirror in the downtown objects menu once.

One problem I did find was when I tried to pour on the romance initially. My character, Dash Riprock, millionaire bachelor, befriended one of the townies. She was the beautiful and charming Clarita Townie. Dash and Clarita had a few memorable evenings together and their friendship gauges were at the 100 mark. Dash was all prepared to invite Clarita over to his abode for a nite of fine dining, entertainment, and possibly some frolicking in the heart-shaped hot tub, only to find that her name was missing from the phone directory. She disappeared from the game never to be seen from again! Please, do not cry for Dash Riprock, millionaire bachelor, for there are plenty of fish in the sea. He was soon over the loss, and in the arms of other townie women.

Besides having one local woman disappear and some items a little hard to find in the downtown menu, the Hot Date expansion pack is a fantastic addition to the Sims game. The new objects are excellent and I’ll be busy for quite a while trying them all out. The new social interactions are great and some are downright hilarious, such as the "leaping hug" and "tease with puppet" options.

The downtown area is a brilliant addition to the Sims universe. I’m not used to heaping this much praise on a video game, but it is good. I give the Hot Date expansion pack 4 1/2 out of 5 GiN gems for breathing new life into the Sims. Now if you will excuse me, Mr. Riprock is a very important man with places to be, people to meet"

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