The second major gameplay expansion pack for The Sims 2, Nightlife centers on a theme of getting sims out of their homes and interacting in a variety of community lots such as restaurants, dance clubs, and bowling alleys. There's a particular focus on developing romantic relationships, with all the pleasures and jealousies they entail, as well as new concepts such as enjoying an outing with friends, vehicle ownership, and vampirism.
Like most expansion packs, Nightlife requires the original Sims 2 in order to play. Though its content dovetails nicely with other expansions released both before and afterwards, it can operate independently from them if desired.
The success meter at the very start of a date.
One of the most significant new interactions is the ability for one character to ask another out on a date. Once accepted, this kicks off a sub-game where the the participants' current desires are replaced by ideas of what they'd like to do with the other: chat, dine out, dance, kiss, and so forth. A success meter rated from "Horrible" to "Dream Date" also appears alongside a timer, and the more Wants the sims can fulfill with each other, the higher the meter rises and the longer the timer is extended. Efficient time management is important to success, but two sims with compatible ideas of fun will naturally have a better time together.
Another element that influences their chemistry is Nightlife's new Attraction system which adds two "Turn-Ons" and one "Turn-Off" to every character in the game. Examples range from mundane preferences like Blonde Hair and Great Cook to some of the game's more eclectic ideas like Full Face Paint and Vampirism. These personal predilections are randomly assigned to existing sims, but can be manually chosen for newly created characters and later changed by purchasing special potion from the new Gypsy Matchmaker NPC. Though natural attraction or repulsion won't single-handedly make or break an evening engagement, it plays a direct role in how easily romance can blossom.
Sims who ask out a member of their current household give the player normal control over both participants, but when asking out someone from a different lot, the second character remains an independent entity. Since players can't normally access the Wants of an AI-controlled sim, players are granted access to a small sidebar showing off the date's inner desires.
Just as romantic rendezvous that end on a high note can greatly boost the relationship between two sims in the span of a single night, more disastrous outings can unleash feelings of resentment, jealousy, and unbridled rage thanks to Nightlife's new emotion mechanics. Woe unto the sim whose lover discovers them in the arms of another, as the jilted party will enter an inconsolable wrath marked by livid confrontation and nasty pranks. Such passionately angry characters cannot interact rashly with the subject of their fury until the passage of a few days gives them an opportunity to cool down.
In addition to dates, sims can head out for a night on the town with a group of several friends all at once. These casual groups function similarly to house parties in the base game, except with the ability to transplant the action to different community lots as things unfold.
The Gypsy Matchmaker
For sims with more cash than time, a new love guru can be phoned up and hired to provide an instant connection with a potential partner. A compatible match-up costs extra, as does access to the Matchmaker's apothecary of mystical potions: the ReNuYu-PortaChug which allows sims to change their Turn-Ons and Turn-Off, Love Potion #8.5 which adds a spicy hot kick to a lukewarm date, and Vamprocillin-D, the cure-all for sims suffering from an acute aversion to sunlight.
Two other noteworthy NPCs are lurking around the public lots after dusk: the Count and the Contessa, an ashen-faced pair who skulk around town with their arms drawn comically across their signature dentistry. These vampires will not actually seek out victims, but if a sim is dedicated enough to pursuing a good relationship with one, he or she can eventually request to be bitten and turned.
Vampiric sims do not age and their Needs don't decline at all after sundown, but they wasterapidly away during the daytime unless they retreat to the safety of their coffins. Staying indoors doesn't alleviate the affect, and since most sims do their socializing during the day, vampires can be especially challenging to play successfully. If the experience proves too trying, purchasing a vial of Vamprocillin-D from the Matchmaker can restore a sim to humdrum mortality.
Nightlife is the first expansion pack in the franchise to allow teens, adults, and elderly sims to purchase and own their own cars and trucks. Although vehicles are highly expensive and can be stolen without an active alarm, the owner gains the freedom to drive themselves to work or travel between community lots without having to wait for a taxi to arrive.
Car ownership is a common desire for characters with the Wealth or Pleasure Aspirations, and five different types of vehicles are included by default: a little hatchback, truck, minivan, luxury sedan, and a fancy performance sports car.
Every sim in the game has a lifetime Aspiration that shapes their ideas about personal success. For characters who relish all of life's possible pleasures, Nightlife introduces the new Pleasure Aspiration: a free-wheeling and unpredictable personality type that blends together the most hedonistic aspects of the existing Wealth, Romance, and Popularity Aspirations.
Characters with this trait want to embrace the full range of life's little enjoyments through a minimum of effort. Though earning money bores them, they adore spending it on immediate gratification like fancy dinners, personal music players, and gambling at the new poker tables. Typical Wants often include frivolous impulses like "Jump on Bed" or "Play in Fountain," but they also gravitate towards the finer things in life like "Eat Lobster Thermador" and "Buy Sports Car."
Other assorted improvements in Nightlife include:
a new reward object called the ReNuYu SensoOrb which allows existing characters to change their lifetime Aspirations, but may malfunction and impart them with an obsessive fascination with grilled cheese sandwiches
a major graphical update which enables structures outside the current lot to be seen in the surrounding landscape, eliminating the appearance of an endless green field just beyond the property line
over 125 various objects, new music choices, and dozens of specialty destinations in the new Downtown district, including posh restaurants, quaint cafes, wild nightclubs, fancy outdoor parks, and fine art museums
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