17 Years Later, And The Sims 2 Is Still The Best Game In The Series

Daria Paterek

On the 17th anniversary of The Sims 2, Daria reflects on the successes and downfalls of the series.

The first Sims game that I owned was The Sims: Unleashed. I was about 10, and my mom bought it from a charity shop, claiming that it looked fun. After reading about the game, I discovered that it was an expansion pack, and I couldn’t play it by itself. I decided to buy the newest game in the series, The Sims 3, to find out more about the franchise. And that’s where my Sims journey started.

I was about 15 when I first played The Sims 2, playing occasionally but preferring The Sims 3. Yet 2021 made me return to the franchise that shaped my childhood and developed my love for gaming. Now, I have some pretty strong opinions about The Sims.

MacBook Pro on top of brown table

The Sims 2 possesses what its successors lack – charm and challenge

I have concluded that The Sims 2 is the best game in the Sims franchise, and it’s unlikely that any other Sims game will outperform it. The game revolutionised the franchise and simulation games. The Sims 2 possesses what its successors (particularly The Sims 4) lack – charm and challenge. Here are the reasons why The Sims 2 is the best Sims game. 17 years after its release. 

  • Storytelling

The biggest strength of The Sims 2 was the storytelling. Characters felt like people – they had wants, fears and aspirations. This not only meant that they had distinct personalities and memories, but this also made the game more challenging. While The Sims 3 contained wants, the lack of fears made the game less difficult and less rewarding.

The depth of the premade characters made them enticing and urged the players to explore their backstories. The drama, mysteries, and possibilities are what made The Sims 2 so exciting and replayable. 

Poor actions had consequences. Cheating would not be easily forgotten, reflecting real life. While the Sims 4 gave players full ‘reign’, it was tiring having to make up your own story for every family. While Sims 4 allows total control, stories that we create ourselves can become boring and repetitive. 

In contrast, The Sims 2 was the one playing you. The Sims 2 was the perfect balance between direction and creativity. The developers created scripted events to steer the gameplay, but that wasn’t limiting to players who still could shape the story. 

  • Iconicity

The Sims 2 was iconic, not only due to its storytelling but the characters.

Bella Goth remains one of the most iconic characters in The Sims franchise. Players to this day are creating theories to explain her disappearance. Clues are scattered around neighbourhoods, but there is no real answer. Players can dig into the character’s memories, relationships, and motives to try and what happened to Bella. The legend of Bella Goth will continue to be the most debated in the Sims community.

But Bella Goth isn’t the only character that gives The Sims 2 the iconic status. Heartbreaker Don Lothario, the Pleasant sisters, the Caliente’s, and the Curious family are households that also deserve the status. The characters are so iconic that they were (poorly) replicated in The Sims 4.

  • Better quality

I found myself bored at a Sims game – which I have never felt before

When I first bought the Sims 4 upon launch ( as a 12-year-old) I was disappointed. The game felt half done, and I returned it in a week. The towns were tiny, the characters were uninteresting, and I found myself bored at a Sims game – which I have never felt before.

The constant pumping of expansion packs for The Sims 4 feels like overcompensation for the original lack of quality, even seven years on. But putting cows in the Sims won’t make long-term players forget about the original failings of the Sims 4, instead, it will make them reflect more on the downfall of the franchise. 

This decrease in quality is probably explained by the change of the Sims’ target audience. Even the trailer of the Sims 2 felt raunchy. But now, the Sims 4 is targeted more towards younger players. Sims in Sims 4 don’t have fears, aspirations, or personalities, which can complicate their lives and give the players a challenge. 

The Sims 2 trailer depicts sexual scenarios, adult humour, chaos, and violence. It’s crude but hilarious – and feels targeted towards teenagers and young adults. Contrastingly, The Sims 4 feels and looks childish and goofy. While marketing to a younger audience isn’t a fault in itself, it has reduced the quality of the franchise by removing the exciting aspects- drama, consequences, and challenge. 

Yet The Sims 2 is still so iconic, that fans are begging EA to put it on Origin- and they’re willing to pay.

Daria Paterek

Featured image courtesy of Daria Paterek (the author). No changes were made to this image.

In-article image 1 courtesy of Kari Shea via Unsplash. Image license found here. No changes were made to this image.

In-article image 2 courtesy of @ribspxter via @twitter.com. No changes were made to this image.

In-article video 1 courtesy of @WhinyBrit via @youtube.com. No changes were made to these videos.

In-article video 2 courtesy of @ElectronicArts via @youtube.com. No changes were made to these videos.

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