If you”ve never heard of “The Sims,” then you”ve either been living in a cave for the past two years, or your idea of an exciting computer game is “Minesweeper.” Maxis Games, creators of the huge success “SimCity 2000,” ushered in the video game “reality” genre in March 2000 with the release of “The Sims.” “House Party” is the second expansion pack to the original game, and it adds even more depth to an already innovative and addicting experience.

Paul Wong
With Sims newest game, it”s YOUR party. Cry if you want to.<br><br>Courtesy of EA

The basic premise of “The Sims” and its two expansion packs is that the player controls a family of up to eight people, and dictates nearly every facet of their lives. You can either build a house from scratch, or pick from nearly ten of pre-installed homes. After doing so, you pick the furniture, wall coverings, and outdoor landscaping of your choice. When the player turns the simulator on, he or she has free reign to control their “Sims”” actions. And while all Sims need to eat, sleep and use the bathroom, you can control which skills they develop, which job they choose, and which Sims they date and marry.

“The Sims” is so widely popular, in part, because of its unlimited replay ability. There are endless possibilities of situations that you can engage your Sims in. “House Party” adds variety to this game by providing more objects, social opportunities, and ascetic pleasantries for your home. Like “Living” Large,” the first expansion pack, “House Party” provides decorating themes, such as a country-western design with wooden furniture, barrels of hay to sit on, and a mechanical bull. The “island” theme is also a welcome addition, and with the “Survivor” characters available on many of “The Sims” fan sites, you can recreate your own Kucha and Ogakor tribes.

One complaint with the “Livin” Large” expansion pack was that it didn”t bring any new concepts to the game. “House Party,” however, allows your Sims to host parties, bringing all the neighborhood people to your house and permitting you to make new friends. The party kit comes with a buffet table, a giant stereo system, and a color-changing dance floor. With the costume trunk, you can throw almost any kind of party, from a “70s disco, to a toga party, to an underground techno rave. And who can leave out the go-go cages and the psychedelic four-person bubble-blowing machine? No party is complete without them.

“House Party”s” graphics are first-rate. The costume designs for each of the party themes look authentic and are intricately detailed. With each new expansion pack to “The Sims,” the wallpaper and floor patterns become more stylish and sophisticated, allowing for some truly spectacular homes. Probably the game”s strongest feature is its soundtrack when building your home you can listen to some gorgeous piano melodies, and the party music is consistently funny because it”s sung in the gibberish-like Sim language.

The only major drawback to “House Party” is its price tag for $30 you don”t get a ton of new features that the original game or downloads from fan sites cannot provide. But if you”re a dedicated “Sims” fan, like thousands of others, then “House Party” is sure to satiate your gaming needs.

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