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Sep 27, 2011

Hot Date Capsule Review

The Sims - Hot Date
Game Category: Simulation
Developer / Distributor: Maxis / Electronic Arts
Release Date: 12 Nov 2001
Rating: ESRB - Teen

Note: This is a continuing series of reviews of the expansion packs from The Sims franchise. Please read about The Sims, The Sims - Livin' Large and The Sims - House Party here.

This is the third expansion from Maxis for their mega-selling hit. Following hot on the heels of the first two expansions, I remembered thinking that the developers would more or less be using the same formulaic approach and following the precedence that had already been set.

If you are familiar with Livin' Large and House Party, you would know that Maxis gave us a bunch of new neighbourhoods, released a refreshing bunch of new objects for your Sims to play with, and threw in a couple of non-player characters. This time however, the approach that Maxis took for Hot Date surpassed all my expectations.

Let's check it out...

Design and build your very own store
Head on Downtown
Instead of several new residential neighbourhoods (mostly featuring empty fields), you get a single commercial style neighbourhood that has 10 lots. Nine of these lots have been pre-designed and they include a beach park, several restaurants, and even a mall.

To enter into Hot Date and start visiting the new lots, you must first go through a one-time Sims conversion process. It takes a short while to convert your Sims to the Hot Date format, so be patient. Once you're into the game proper, pick one of your Sims and walk him over to a phone. Get him to call a cab to bring you downtown. Once the cab arrives, your Sim boards and you get to enter the Hot Date commercial zone. The first thing you must do is to choose which lot you wish to visit. After that, the cab drops you off at your chosen destination.

Where shall I seek my date?
Dating 101
The first thing you notice downtown is that there are lots of strangers milling about and that you can't enter Build or Buy mode. You should try to talk to the strangers and get to know them better... after all, aren't you here for that hot date? Build a relationship (here's a tip - try buying gifts and handing them out) and very soon you'll be able to ask that person on a date with you. There is a new dialogue system that focuses on dating as well as a new relationship system that maintains a daily and lifetime relationship score.

You might not like the idea of entering downtown by yourself, so if you experiment a bit back home, you'll find you can also invite your loved ones downtown with you for a date. While downtown, your date has a blue marker appearing over his head. You are only able to control the character you chose to initiate the phone call for the cab. Your date can never be controlled. If the marker turns red, your date will walk out on you.

New conversational topics
New Stuff
You will notice quite a number of new non-player characters. The game generates random townies for you to interact with. Plus, there are many nice stock characters such as bartenders, cashiers, janitors, waiters, a pianist, and even a violinist. Then, there's Mrs. Crumplebottom. Try not to smooch your date (or frolic too freely) in front of the old prude or you will get to know her wrath.

To edit the town, you must return to the neighbourhood screen. Select the Downtown button and choose a lot. You will then be able to enter the Build and Buy mode. The only big difference here is that you have no constraints whatsoever. Build anything and everything you desire. There are new furniture, kitchen appliances, and even display stands and gift racks awaiting you. As expected, you can also import in a downtown lot if you have any of these.

Building on your relations
Hot Date is a great addition to The Sims franchise. It's definitely more focused on what the game wants you to achieve. There's lot to see in the new downtown neighbourhood, and lots of new social interactions to try out. Not forgetting, more interesting Simlish speak and wonderful music.

Of course, what this game lacks are some important warning labels on the box. Here's warning number one - Maxis shall not be held liable for the dating lessons you learn while playing Hot Date. And the other warning would be - You'll soon be without a life, as you continue to try and hitch upon every townie you see in the game.

Get yourself a Hot Date today!

Daily PC Game Review Score: 8 / 10
Review Date: 27 Sep 2011


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