Become Hugh Heffner! Try and get rid of that "old guy smell"
Tue, 17 May 2005
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Ok, let's just get it out of the way right now; being Hugh Heffner ends up being pretty dull. At least, in Playboy the Mansion it does. In real life I'm sure that being Hugh Heffner is often quite a lot of fun. The guy gets to be a creepy old pervert for a living, nice one mate. In the game though, it just isn't too thrilling at all. In fact, much of the time it all feels like something of a chore. Ubisoft sent Buttonhole a few really fun and interesting games recently (I'll be talking more about those soon); unfortunately this particular title doesn't really warrant that description. So, does that mean it is utterly worthless? Well, no, not quite.
Despite its slow pace, derivative nature and the lack of incentive to progress in the game, Playboy the Mansion did manage to become oddly compelling for me. That feeling of compulsion was not a long lasting one, but at least it was there for a while. If they follow up on some of the concepts in this game with a better realised sequel they could probably make something pretty good from it. Then again, many of the concepts in this game are lifted straight from The Sims already (they didn't even make an attempt to disguise the fact that Playboy is a blatant Sims rip-off).
Next time, if they focus more on how throwing cool, wild parties and taking pictures (or having sex) with beautiful naked women with huge racks should be a FUN thing to do, that would certainly help. Maybe with the power of next generation of consoles they could even get the girls looking more like real people, instead of the freaky, bumpy plastic, cartoon looking things they resemble currently. Of course, it could be argued that is actually what most playmates do really look like.
If you've read or seen anything at all about this game you'll pretty much know what to expect from it. You take the role of Hugh Hefner and you have to make Playboy magazine successful. To do that you'll need to suck up and build relationships with all the right people; celebrities, reporters, photographers, models and so on.
|Dude, you look like such a creepy bastard in those pyjamas, you know that? |
To make your magazine work you have to include a cover shoot, a centrefold, a pictorial, an essay, an interview and a couple of articles in each and every issue. The way this is achieved is by talking to people, either the staff you hire, or guests you invite to the nearly endless parties at the Mansion. Well, the characters in the game don't actually speak; instead they make little silly noises (just like in The Sims). But you have to decide how best to interact with each individual, be it romantic talk, business talk etc. and you just keep on talking with them until you get them to like you enough that they'll do stuff for the mag. So, you do that and then you do it again and again and again and again. Yep, it really is that monotonous and unexciting.
There are certain goals that you'll be given as the game progresses, but they all involve building up relationships in exactly the same way I described above. There's really no variety at all. You do get to actually take the photos of the chicks for the centrefolds and covers though. You also choose where in the mansion they pose, what they (don't) wear and that kind of thing. They get their jugs out and you're away, but it isn't any kind of a turn on, because like I already said, they don't look like real women. They look like polygonal game versions of women, with overly large noggins and rock hard tits. If you get off on that, well I guess that's your business, but it sure doesn't do much for me.
There are some real life celebrities included in the game, like Carmen Electra and…Tom Arnold (wow, that's an impressive one), but none of them look like their real life versions. In fact all of the characters in the game look pretty interchangeable for the most part. There are males and there are females, other than that, they all and move the same ways and mostly look alike.
Alright then, so where's the "compelling" part fit into all of this? Good question. It is simple really, you see after you manage to make the Playboy magazine a success and start raking in the big fat dirty cash, some of the more dubious instinctive traits of human nature inevitably kick in: the desire to make more money, get more power, shag more women, build a bigger house and fill it full of more useless crap. I started wanting to get better quality issues of the magazine out; I wanted bigger movie stars on my covers, bigger rock stars at my parties, bigger breasts in my bed. And when that son of a bitch sold through the roof, I used the moolah to buy a more pimpin' bar, a bigger TV, decks for the DJs, another pinball machine for the club house and so on.
Why would you want to do those things? Umm… just because you can. That's the only real reason. It hooked me in for several hours, I'd even say it kept my interest for a few days worth of playing time. But then I just started losing interest.
At the end of the day, it is all too slow moving and you're left with nothing more than a bunch of that previously mentioned useless crap to show for your efforts.
There's never much of a thrill, or sense of achievement on offer, like you might get from kicking the arse of a particularly well designed end of level boss.
The graphics and sounds are...functional. To look at it and listen to, this is like yet another version of The Sims basically. There are some cute and humorous character animations and some of the extra things you can buy look pretty cool, but, while there is nothing in particular wrong with the graphics, there is also nothing here that's visually impressive.
|See? I told you the girls looked fake |
You're given a decent selection of songs and musical styles to choose from- you can do that buy changing things using the in-game stereos. There's hip-hop, jazz, industrial and much more to choose from, so that's all good. However, as this game is, by its very nature, highly time consuming you are still probably going to end up hearing most songs more times than you'd like to.
In conclusion, I can't honestly recommend Playboy the Mansion too highly. It isn't outright horrible, but it just isn't much fun either and isn't fun the exact reason most of us play games? Still, there are a couple of laughs to be had with the game and it can bring out the megalomaniac in you, if you give it a chance and play it long enough to earn enough money. So, maybe you should rent the game if you find the concept even mildly intriguing.
If you enjoy playing with doll's houses, or find the PSX version of Lara Croft (i.e. a crude bunch of polygons that almost looks like a female) sexy, then by all means go out and get a copy. If you want to know which version is the best (why?)…well, I was given the PS2 version for this review and as far as I know they're all exactly the same. But, I'd imagine the PC version would be the smoothest, due to mouse control being more suitable for these kinds of games.
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A game about parties, fame, extravagance and naked women. Who knew it was all so boring?