If my friend Florence is reading this, she's going to be feeling guilty, because yesterday I bought The Sims again, after giving my first copy to her well over a year ago now. I'm not entirely sure why I've bought it again - I just had an all encompassing urge to play it again, now that the sequel is due out in the next month or five (GAME say March 19th in the shop, but July on the website, which is odd).
After several months of playing things like Knights Of The Old Republic, Bloodrayne, Hordes Of The Underdark and Jedi Academy, I've suddenly started hankering for a more passive gaming experience.
Perhaps I'm going soft in my old age, but I installed it last night, played it for five solid hours and it was the most enjoyable evening's gaming I've had since I completed KOTOR.
I think the flogging of the Sims franchise has undoubtably damaged the reputation of the original game, which is unfortunate, because after playing it again, with the advantage of the best part of three years of hindsight, I've only now begun to understand just how staggering an achievement The Sims actually is.
The Sims touches something in everyone who plays it - be it the voyeuristic pleasure of poking into the intimate business of other people's lives, the ability to destroy people's relationships on a whim, the desire to make other people happy, or perhaps just to enjoy the feeling of complete power of life and death over The Sims' hapless polygon people. For me, it's the first and last of these things that I enjoy, and I'm seriously looking forward to the sequel, and will definitely be buying it, whenever it does come out.
Some people might say that it's just going to be another udder on the Cash Cow being milked, but I'm genuinely optimistic that The Sims 2 is going to build upon the strengths of the original and throw in a few surprises too. Now - if I could only get my hands on a review copy....