Having played a bit of Bin Weevils and Moshi Monsters as a child, my first proper introduction to video games was The Sims 2, specifically the Double Deluxe edition. This edition contained the base game, along with the Nightlife expansion pack and the Celebration stuff pack. The opening video when you fire up the game, showcasing Sims living life to the fullest, always got me hyped, though I never did manage to get the helicopter in game.
The best element of The Sims 2 is how rich it is in lore. I mean you have Bella Goth getting abducted by aliens, Daniel Pleasant cheating on his wife with the maid and the Caliente sisters and Don Lothario seducing Sims left, right and centre. And that's just in Pleasantview, one of three pre-made neighbourhoods. Other base game neighbourhoods include Strangetown, which has aliens and an amnesiac Bella Goth, and Veronaville, which features characters from Shakespeare's plays like the Capulets and Montagues from Romeo and Juliet and characters from A Midsummer Night's Dream.
Though the customisability of Sims and build mode is vastly limited compared to later instalments, the game mechanics remain easy to navigate. As a life simulation, you get to play as a Sim from birth to death, hitting all the milestones in between such as first kiss, first woohoo, marriage, giving birth, ageing up and of course a standard alien abduction. Throughout your Sims' lives they have wants and fears which you can choose to pursue acting as either a benevolent or maniacal god. I will admit that I did dabble in the latter, removing pool ladders and boxing a Sim in until they die of starvation but hey, who hasn't done that?
The most recent instalment in the Sims franchise, The Sims 4 (2014), has been criticised for the ridiculous number of add-on packs as the base game itself lacks many of the core features found in the earlier games. I watched a video by YouTuber Bull Technology who did the math and worked out that with 14 expansion packs ($39.99 each), 12 game packs ($19.99 each), 18 stuff packs ($9.99 each) and 23 kits ($4.99 each) plus the base game (originally $59.99 on release) that The Sims 4 in all its glory would cost a player $1,154.32. Absolutely insane from EA, no wonder their reputation is in the gutter. Rewind to the noughties and there were eight expansion packs such as University, Apartment Living and Nightlife along with ten stuff packs themed around Celebrations, IKEA, H&M and Christmas themed packs. Each pack was a valuable addition, adding new experiences to the game.
Looking back, one can only shake their head in disappointment at the loss of the greatness this franchise once had. The Sims 2 may no longer be available on Origin but I will be digging out the disk when I crave some of my childhood nostalgia.