Even for a publisher no stranger to releasing a cash cow or two, The Sims is a franchise that just keeps on giving – whether you want it to or not.
Following the release of each major new edition in the franchise there always comes a flurry of titles pushing the engine in various different directions – from a trip back in time to the Middle Ages to a somewhat more conventional jaunt down the bowling alley.
Some do the series great credit. Others are cynical cash-ins. It's somewhat fitting, then, that EA's retrospective The Sims 2 double pack should ship with a bit of both.Eye for an island
First, the good. It may be more than three-years-old now, but The Sims 2 Castaway is one of the best offshoots to the main franchise.
As Kath Brice identified in her original review, Castaway does a good job of planting the franchise's foundations in an entirely new setting.
"You might be on an island but there are fellow shipwreckees who also need to be found," she wrote.
“This is where the bulk of the game lies as each character holds an assortment of goals.
"These 'fetch quests' call for gathering items, such as red snapper fish or coconuts. Once you've completed them the Sims will normally give you a new item in return, so after some progression, new clothes become available as well as a dancing mini-game which ups your Sim's fun levels.”
In truth, the years have not been kind to The Sims 2 Castaway, in terms both of graphics and the general pace of play.
Nonetheless, for those looking for a new arena to test out their Sims exploits, there aren't many better.Bow-wow pow-wow
In stark contrast, The Sims 2 Pets is an example of the series taking a step too far. The premise behind the game is that keeping your pet happy makes you happy.
However, while that might seem like a logical concept in real life, in The Sims 2 Pets it makes every action a chore.
"Although you've got the usual hunger, tiredness and emotion levels of your mutt to consider, it's all about the two-legged creature rather than the four," wrote Mike Abolins in his original review, back in 2007.
"It's a sensation that pervades the game, as you never really feel connected to your dog. As strange a concept as it sounds, it is possible to get attached to virtual beings in some mobile phone games, but here that's missing, which leaves The Sims 2 Pets as a hollow gaming experience."
It's an addition that really drags Sims 2 for 1 Pack down – a package not helped by the age of both games, each one looking a little tattered around the edges.
One for only the most dedicated of Sims addicts, then, or those with a penchant for pets in peril.