A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
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What's it about?
With this inspired expansion pack, players leave their suburb and head downtown to locales include a beach and a park for frolicking, bars and nightclubs for meeting new friends, shopping malls for buying gifts, and restaurants for wooing your sweetie.
You'll find increased demands on the art of conversation as you work to meet new people or deepen the relationship with your partner. The icons that represent dialogue play a much bigger role in the game, revealing the interests of the Sims you meet and giving you clues about the best way to bond with them. This emphasis makes the building and maintaining of relationships much more difficult, and changes the main goal of the game from conspicuous consumption to social engineering.
Is it any good?
It's worth noting that by advancing the game play so much (and so well) it is kind of a drag to return to the old neighborhood. The home is still inextricably connected to the game -- you've still got to go to work, sleep, and shower -- but you can't help but feel constrained by the four walls once you've relaxed at the beach. All of a sudden, your regular Sims life of watching TV and taking out the trash doesn't seem so interesting.
Hot Date is not for the kids who play the other Sims games. It's suited for advanced, mature (and upwardly mobile) players. Not only is the gameplay more subtle, but the downtown life eats up your cash like this creative game eats up your time -- with wild abandon. As the title suggests, the subject matter here is mature -- or at least as mature as a bunch of adults whooping it up over mechanical bull rides and slot machines can be.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about relationships. The expansion pack monitors your friendships at both a superficial and deeper level, and you might want to ask your teens if these dual levels exist in real life. Can someone be fun to hang out with, but not be there for you when you really need them? You might also want to discuss the realities of the modern dating world and the consequences of engaging in casual sex or affairs.
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