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Editorial

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What stereotypical simulated university life looks like

I've always loved the idea of collecting each and every one of The Sims 2 expansion packs. I remember collecting all of the original The Sims expansions to which I was humbly kicked down in the dirt by the release of The Sims 2. However, the gameplay experience offered by The Sims 2 is truly something else in comparison to its predecessor and University doesn't only give you the usual few new items to have a mess around with but a completely new lifestyle for your Sims to experience.

When your teenagers reach the age of finishing their school work, the on-screen prompt reminds you that maybe it's time to dig into your Simoleans and think about your child's future education. Once you have pre-created (if you have the time) or enabled one of the pre-created university neighbourhoods, you are then able to kick that snotty teenage Sim out and send them to university.

Finally on Campus!

Your Sims are now subject to a completely new world. When they arrive, they are suddenly transformed into a "young adult" which is something in between being a teenager and an adult - no kidding. Now this is where the first major change begins that was introduced via University, but I can't help but feel this feature should've been added a lot longer ago. Although the option to head off to university was only just introduced by this expansion, I'm surprised The Sims didn't develop a way of sending "young adults" to university which you couldn't interact with. Not only would it have helped Sims earn a bit more money who considering, besides using the toilet every few minutes or sleeping, it's quite hard to maintain a good mood and earn a good wage whilst working tirelessly as a golf caddy. "Long overdue," I'd say.

As everyone jumps to claim their dorm, the new dorm doors added to help maintain, claim and lock your chosen room certainly is a feature I admire. You have the ability to keep those annoying Sims out who like meddling with your room and the ability to feel that realism of university life. Not only do you get the keys to your "ranch," but you also get a big shining picture of your Sim on the door which says "Back off, punk!" to any other possible dorm snatcher. Don't be fooled by its exclusivity, however. If you and another Sim deside it's time to blow off some steam whilst a fellow lover is in the building, they will still be effected by your actions and will, ultimately, want you dead. Pants on.

Socialising also became a damn sight easier. I would often be sat at home with the previous versions trying to chat to people at 3am before work to little success in order to boost my social bar. Now, you have the ability to chat to people in so many new ways, but the best for boosting that lingering social bar and creating a strong relationship quickly is by using the new "hang out" button. Your Sims suddenly decide to chillax facing one another on the floor and chat the night away. Although not much different to the original "chat" function itself, it certainly is a much better boost to other methods, but if you're desparate for social interaction, realistically, I can't imagine your teenage daughter would be so happy to share almost everything with her aging father.

The realism of constantly needing to do revision or coursework is still there but lacks the demands of a job. Once your studies are finished for the day and that 2-hour class is over, you have the rest of the night - if you're not asleep or on the toilet - to party it up. Call a dorm party, go streaking, burn a giant bonfire or just have a quiet get together with friends - if you're that kind of guy. But whatever you do, don't miss a class or you could see those university fees that mummy and daddy forked out - as little as the game gives you - could go to waste! Not to say that they won't whatever you do.

Finally, after your studies, nostalgia kicks in. Your Sims are given some time to pack up their things and the option to throw a leaving party is available. For all its basic university elements - a second would be much better for The Sims 3 - it really does offer such a beautiful alternative and a break away from the usual playing experience. For what it's worth, university is definitely an expansion pack you should consider buying and a very good basic simulation of university life.

Nowadays, the pack can be picked up in most leading shops in the UK for around £5, which, in my opinion, is well worth the money. As per usual, The Sims 2: University requires the original The Sims 2 to be installed along with 1GB free on your harddrive in order to install and run.

In terms of rating the game, I'd go with a very comfortable 8.0. My reasoning is simple: it offers a new and alternative life in comparison to anything seen before in The Sims 2 and isn't just a one-off visit to the shops or just the usual sit-at-home version of playing. It's university, after all: go mad!

I cant help but feel this is the money shot for university brochures