A sadly overlooked feature of The Sims 2 is its intricate character editor. The sims are extremely detailed and adjustable, and the game's decent set of features is supplemented by massive fan-made online collections. It has its weaknesses - few body types, an adulthood consisting solely of age categories "adult" and "elder" though an expansion adds "young adult", no way to simulate missing body parts - but aside from those, some effort can make a sim look like almost anything. Or, to put it another way, some effort can make a sim look like almost anyone.

The potential is massive. With familiar people as gamepieces the failures can become that much more harrowing, succumbing to the inevitable far more fun and morally suspect. Players can see how different hairstyles, ages or skin colours would look like, re-enact or enact events, or as metalangel noted just shack people up and see what the children would be like. As usual, though, the folks of Looneywood get the best of things.

An illustrative tale: It's no secret that I'm slightly original, and my 18-year-old little sister's recent trip to Japan was an opportunity to turn bugging her into an artform. In roughly two hours I made her as meticulously as possible, consulting photographs, picking out a hairstyle and clothes she'd use. Eventually I had a teenaged sim immediately recognizable as my sister.

Then I hit the gender change button.

The outcome actually suited her, her somewhat angular features easily translating into masculine ones. There's no point in discussing her appearance in detail, but bystanders - mostly blissfully ignorant - quite liked him. Our mother even helped with choosing a hairstyle, having seen the humor in the situation (or at least she kept nodding and smiling.) Was this enough? Of course not. I consulted some of my superiors for ideas and set out to see how strange the game could go, crafting these:

  • A household made entirely out of her. A large living room decorated with the kind of styles and items she likes, with a kindly-faced silver-haired her sitting down and chatting with a career-woman her starting to approach middle age, her somewhat older husband (complete with early male pattern baldness) looking on, a boy glued to the television and his dreadlocked girl twin playing with an utterly adorable little baby. Most had looks that she'd used or would want to use.
  • A first kiss. After a long, turbulent teenage courtship, she decides to allow her relationship with himself to go a step further. As it turns out, this triggers an in-game cutscene. The young lovers' movements are thrilled, yet awkward, as they stare into each others' eyes and share a quick peck before laughing and flying into tongue-wrestling. It was almost as cute as it was disturbing.

I admit that this was rather more than I bargained for, the cutscene landing outside my comfort zone, but at least I got to create something excellently mad. Not to mention making her look like she'd taken the mental equivalent of a large brick to the head.