A Review of The Sims 2 Free Time Expansion Pack for PC

The Sims 2 Free Time, by far is one of the most unique expansion packs that Maxis has yet to release for The Sims 2. As a matter of fact it seems to be the first pack that added an entire new twist on my Sim families lives.

The Sims 2 Free Time is the latest expansion pack for the game. It basically introduces hobbies for your Sims to indulge in.

Your Sims can now take their spare time to a whole new level. Their are approximately 10 hobbies that your Sim can spend their time on, while building up skills, and making things that your Sims can either display in the home, or sell.

What is neat about the new hobbies though is that your Sims build skills while working on hobbies. So while they are having fun, they are also gaining skill points that can help the Sim advance in their career. The new hobbies basically allow your Sim to build new skills without having to be glued to the older boring methods of sitting on the couch reading about skills the Sim wishes to acquire.

The cool twist though is that the better the Sim gets at their hobby the more rewards open up. Say Johnny Sim has been working diligently at re-building a wrecked car. As he is working on the wrecked car, the more hobby enthusiast points he will gain. As he gains more hobby enthusiast points he will unlock new elements of game play.

My Johnny Sim who had been working on repairing a broken down car all night, got a phone call from an NPC telling him that the more time he spent on his hobby, the more rewards he would get. Plus the NPC mentioned that if Johnny kept working he would eventually get a membership card, that would grant him access to a secret lot, that is set up to allow Johnny to go to. At this secret lot their will be even more activities for Johnny to work on that would satisfy his hobby.

Pretty cool!

Besides this though…there is also a second life aspiration bar for your Sim to fulfill!!!

But it gets even cooler.

Every time your Sims aspiration level spikes up, that Sim will be given points to use as an improvement in the Sim. For instance; with enough points you can make your Sim more likable, so making friends comes easier. Basically there is a reward for each aspiration (pleasure, family, romance etc) if you choose the rewards properly, the Sims energy will decay at a slower rate giving him more time to make friends (popularity aspiration), cater to building a family (family aspiration) and so on.

The Hobbies:

Music and Dance-

This particular hobby gives Sims the opportunity to take their love for entertainment to a new level. Music and dance hobbyists (if spent enough time working on the hobby) can eventually lead your Sim into becoming a great ballerina. Your Sim can gain ballerina experience by working on that hobby. You can work at receiving new rewards and secret lots by playing instruments. The new expansion pack even includes a synthesizer, and a violin for your musically inclined Sims.

Arts and Crafts:

You will notice the new work benches section of items will now carry a sewing machine, and a pottery wheel. As your Sim increases his skill in making pottery and sewing things, the more items he will be able to make. (Like with the robot/toy work benches… the better the Sim got at the hobby, the more things he/she could build).
Arts and crafts also include a craft table for toddlers and children to work with.

Fitness:

Yep, fitness is now a hobby in the Sims. You can get your Sim all buff and beautiful by using the new items located within the expansion pack. As your Sim digs deeper into his hobby, he will unlock new items; such as the energy drink (will allow your Sim to build fitness skill points faster than normal).

To gain fitness hobby points use the new exercise bike, or use old methods of getting fit. Such as swimming in the pool, or working out.

Sports:

Something we Sim fans have been waiting for was the beloved basketball hoop, that we all once had in TS1. Well with Free Time, we are given a basketball hoop, and a soccer net for your Sims to play with. You also have the new interaction feature to toss around a football.

Like with all hobbies; as your Sim gets better, more cool rewards and unlockables will become available to him or her.

Science Hobbyists:

The nerdy Sim now has the opportunity to meet up with aliens, and become friendly with them if he digs into this hobby long enough. By using the telescope your Sim opens up a world of opportunities. Basically the more logic skills you work on, the better your Sim will become at his/her hobby.

Nature Lover:

Collecting butterflies and fireflies takes on a twist. Now your nature loving Sim can collect bugs and bird watch. Each Sim has a bug shadow box that will display different types of bugs your Sim collects. I find this new addition to be pretty neat. Your nature loving Sim can also bird watch.

As your Sim gets better with this hobby, new unlocakbles will be rewarded to him/her.

Gaming Hobbyists:

Game loving Sims have the opportunity to open up new game play once they become well at their hobby. Becoming well with gaming would mean that your Sim would have to … play a lot of games. The new board game will help game lovers become experts at this hobby.

Tinker:

The tinker hobbyists can become more skilled by working on the new train set, working on broken down cars, or by fixing things broken in the house. The tinker Sim will also unlock new levels of game play as they get better with their mechanical skills.

Cooking Hobbyist:

I felt sort of limited here. Although a new nectar bar was added to the kitchen, I found that the only way to become a god cook was to read about cooking, or to cook. The nectar bar can help you get better at cooking, but after that I sort of felt limited. However as your Sim becomes a better and better cook they can enter cooking/pie contests. They will also be able to serve new and unusual platters of food that regular non-cooking hobbyists could not.

Film and Literature:

This hobby is semi interesting. Your Sims not have the opportunity to write novels and have them stored in the book case. I found this to be cool. Sims who enjoyed sitting at the computer all day writing novels are now rewarded in new ways.

What is wonderful about each hobby is that when your Sim gets really good at that hobby they will be given a membership card into a secret club, filled with other hobbyists interested in the hobby.

Secret lots become available to Sims who have a passion for their hobby.

I also liked getting rewarded every time my Sim got better with his or her hobby. From new items to new interactions, and new magazine subscriptions.

In The Zone:

Sims that grow more fond of their hobby will sometimes go ‘in the zone’. Basically they will become so wrapped up working on their hobby, that they will not think or do anything else. You will know when the Sim is in the zone because a white light will illuminate from their body. Sims in the zone will have their needs decay at a much, much slower rate. This will enable them to work on the hobby for a longer period of time.

Children:

I was glad to see that this expansion pack included hobbies for Sim kids. In nearly every expansion pack kids and toddlers were never given new items to use. Children and toddlers are now incorporated into the hobbies. From working on crafts to building a train set.

Items:

Besides all of the new hobby items and work stations, The Sims 2 Free Time included a slew of new items for the home. From decorations, sculptures, rugs, wall art, clothing and outdoor decor. Although the new items are limited, they are the best items I have ever seen come out of an expansion pack. The sculptures are all cool, and the clothing matches Sims hobbies, which was neat. (Cooking hobbyists can wear an apron…etc…)

New Jobs!

My absolute favorite addition that hasn’t been given to simmers in quite some time, would be new careers. I love being able to grant my hard working Sims new career rewards, and in Free Time, my Sims are given 5 new career options. My Sims can now be entertainers, dancers, architect’s, intelligence (SCIA), and oceanographers.

Like with every career, rewards will come as they get promoted.

Bugs:

There has not been a bug free Sims expansion pack as of yet. Haha. Although all expansion packs come with it’s quirks (don’t even get me started on Bon Voyage!) The Sims 2 Free Time is relatively bug free. Again, relatively; it does in fact have its quirks.

The first bug I noticed was my Sims taking the orders I would hand them. I would direct my Sim to use the bathroom, or to work on a hobby. However the second I directed them to do something, the order would disappear and they would go about doing whatever they wanted. Usually Sims wont do what is directed when their needs are low… they will work on the needs instead. However when all needs bars are filled, they would take directions without an issue.

Although it is annoying… having to re-click the order till they finally do it, I’m sure that Maxis will release a patch for it soon.

Another thing in the game that I wouldn’t necessarily call a bug; but more or less laziness on the developers part, was the train set. Sims have the option to add items to their new train set. From towns to water, mountains and signs. However when I direct my Sims to add these new items to their train set, they seem to be masturbating the air; waving their hands around… yet nothing is present. Over time the ‘town, or mountain, or signs’, will just appear.

Although it is not a HUGE mistake.. it is a stupid looking one that developers should of worked on. There is nothing I hate more than interactions that don’t look correct or real. Yes I take my Sims seriously… and yes it was disappointing to see that interaction issue.

My Overall Impression of the expansion pack:

Excellent. Even with the minor bugs I found in the game, I am enjoying the new game play. This expansion pack by far has surpassed them all. Not only has it given me new things to deliver to my Sims, but it actually feels like brand new game play.

I have never been more pleased with an expansion pack quite this much.

Sadly though it is rumored that Free Time may be the last expansion installation for The Sims 2.

But…

Don’t fret.

When I first installed Free Time, and began playing with my favorite Sim family… a Mr. Humble (the big guy who is the boss of the Sims division) NPC came to my Sims front door, rang the bell, and left my Sims a package. Mr. Humble then left me a little info on what was in the package. The NPC Humble said that the contents would give me a look at what is to come.

The package contained a computer.

As quickly as my Sim opened the package, I set the new computer up on my desk and got to toying with it. Inside there was a new game for my Sims to play.

Can you believe it… Sims 3.

Sims 3 has been the buzz lately, and with the package delivery I am pretty confident when I say that The Sims 3 will be out sooner than we may expect. OH YEAH!!! RobHumble rocks!!!

Free Time really pulled this game together. I welcome a Sims 3 into my PC’s hard drive! Haha! Bring it on!

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