Romantic comedy Singles 2: Triple Trouble involves three young singles who share an apartment in the city. Players have a whole host of new relationship possibilities to manage, along with the everyday necessities of going to work, maintaining a 'happy home' and equipping their flat with the latest furniture and mod-cons. Using a stunning new 3D engine, singles can be dressed in a whole range of different outfits, express themselves in even more realistic and recognizable ways and explore beyond their apartment to new locations, where they can meet other characters for friendship, romance, possibly more?
The core of Singles 2: Triple Trouble is the story mode, featuring the story of Josh and Anna. Josh is Anna's ex-boyfriend who has just moved in the same household with her. Neither of them were aware of that fact however, so the situation is at first tense and a bit awkward. Josh has now decided to win Anna's (broken) heart back, backed up with the wise counsel of his friend Magnet, the talkative baldheaded chap with an abhorrent fashion taste. When asked whether I wanted to play as Josh or Anna, I instantly opted for Josh, convinced that it would be easier to identify with him. I was right. As long as I live, I'll never understand what the hell is going on in women's heads. I've never been a subtle person myself, and I don't have a single romantic bone in my body. I've also never been possessed by a need to sit holding hands with someone under the moonlight and talk about things eternal and everlasting. Nothing is eternal, not even Japanese hardware, so in my world, it's the plain truth that matters and not these sweet nothings under the moon.
I also realized why I could never be a lesbian. In order to win my love's heart back, I was forced to do all sorts of humiliating and out-of-place things. Basically, I had to chase her like a dog with a tail between my legs, buying her presents that only a girl would appreciate or cooking romantic dinners just for the two of us. I was even forced to rummage through her personal stuff in order to understand her innermost desires. I ended up discovering some scary things in the process, but I'll leave that for you to discover.
Playing a lunatic and working my ass off so that I could surprise my girl with an oriental tent was my major preoccupation in the weeks to come. Of course, I also had to deal with improving my basic skills, so that I could prepare exotic dishes and repair electric appliances. No wonder all this led me to frustration, so I had to take my revenge and let my anger vent out. I started to frequent bars, pick up a conversation with a complete stranger, only to end up making out with them on the couch. This is where Allen's remark on bisexuality comes in play, as I wasn't limited only to the charms of the opposite sex. I found both sexes most useful when it came to improving my romantic and erotic skills, and Magnet proved to be a goldmine when it came to courting. While Anna was peacefully asleep at home, Magnet was teaching me the basics of French kissing, and being a thorough teacher that he was, I was soon ready for an advanced level. Go me!
Of course, it is always good to keep your eye on the ball: the primary objective *is* winning Anna's heart back, so occasional flings and meaningless affairs with pleasant people you may encounter in bars only serve for giving your... erm, confidence a boost. But with time, you learn life has many more things in store for you. The basic idea of the Singles - which is now three people in the same household - requires a bit of work on your end. Thus, you are assigned many different tasks during the game, and most of them serve for improving your skills and guiding you in the right direction. The objectives need to be completed successfully before they are replaced by new tasks, the purpose of which is to "make you a better man." For example, if you perform your duties as expected, you are rewarded with skill points, which you can assign to skills of your choice.
The main problem with Singles is that the gameplay lacks variety. Although story mode allows you to switch characters, the actual gameplay is rather tiresome and could be at best described as a drag. The game consists of monotonous repetition of the same actions, so even when you obtain new secondary objectives you won't be very immersed with the game. Singles is, of course, an oversimplified version of the Sims that focuses on the romantic side of life. It lacks the complexity and intricate mechanisms of the Sims, allowing your characters to express their needs and desires through several basic stats and limiting their actions to a number of mechanical, repetitive acts. The characters should definitely have been offered more choice when it came to expressing their feelings or simply reacting to the outside world. Their interaction with each other, as well as with their surroundings, seems rather limited. Visiting other locations is as fun as hanging around in your own flat (or getting repeatedly stabbed in your ass with a knife). I was bored out of my wits whether I decided to have a night out or stay at home and play the guitar. The repetitive interaction and idiotic conversations were all I seemed to get, or I wasn't looking at the right places. Maybe I should have visited my local dealer instead of buying presents for that tough-looking Goth with his nails painted black.
The set of actions designed for friendship, romance, and eroticism seemed useful enough, but I soon discovered the mechanism behind them was far more complex than I had previously imagined - "complex" in the sense that I could not understand the reactions of some characters to my character's wooing. It took me just one compliment to get a kiss in the cheek from my best male friend, and after paying him compliments ruthlessly for two hours we almost made it to bed. He was not willing to let me kiss him on the cheek though. On another occasion, I flirted with a girl for three days hoping I would finally get in her pants. She was described as self-conscious and "every macho man's nightmare," but as soon as I told her I loved her, she agreed to go to bed with me. The Sims do seem much more realistic when it comes to the intricacies of human relationships. Now, I understand that Singles was designed with people who want to get laid in mind, but I still admit I was surprised by the influence I seemed to have on people. It is sometimes too easy to get people into bed - the only tough nut to crack is Anna, but I almost decided on giving up on her when I realized how successful I was at luring others into sack.
The overall simplicity and monotony are visible in every segment of the game, where standard Sims features have been copied and translated into their simplified version. You also have to fill your meter when several basic stats are concerned, including hunger, energy, hygiene, fun, comfort, room, friendship, romance, and eroticism. It is, however, much easier to keep them in check than in the Sims, so you will often be tempted to play the game at the fastest speed and let your characters get by on their own for a while, because they are quite capable of doing so. Singles lacks the frenzy of the Sims, allowing you to play at a more relaxed, slower pace, which is also devoid of any excitement or real content. I also found it disturbing that it offers you the possibility to get into anyone's pants while it still refuses to reveal more skin when male characters are concerned. Female characters flaunt with full frontal nudity, but males have to settle for the black square across their genitals when they change clothes or take a bath. My character was even forced to take a shit with his pants on. I mean, really. What does a girl have to do to see some pixelated cock?
I also found the sex scenes disturbing. The lovebirds rush and take their clothes off, and then they slide under the covers and wriggle about like two horny worms. You see some tits, but still no mention of the cock, damn it.
The interface is very neat and clean, so apart from your basic stats you will be able to see your current objectives, as well as the rating of your skills and the success you're having with other characters. The menu includes the shopping option, so if you fancy a new suit or new accessories for your flat you can buy and position them wherever you want. Thanks to the maneuverable camera, which allows you to position it in any possible angle, letting you zoom in and out, pan or rotate the screen, the decoration of your flat will be as easy as pie.
If we're talking replay value, there are three more modes included that come to save the day. The first one is Apartment, which is a free-game mode where you are allowed to start from scratch and build a community with three characters of your choice (one male and two females. Dream on, guys). Two other modes are at first locked and include Backyard and Penthouse. The latter is another free-game mode, while Backyard puts your characters in a, well, slum. The principle behind this is one the same - lead a virtual life in a virtual environment and get into everybody's virtual pants.
The graphics are very clean, with sharp and brightly colored textures and nicely designed environments. There are some blocky textures however, and the game does not look that great when you zoom in, but otherwise it is done in a very satisfying manner. Character models are also rendered with a lot of detail, with fairly good lightning, so this aspect of the game looks rather polished. The attention has obviously been paid to every single detail, and the environment never seems saturated by too many objects or details, making it comfortable to move in and interact with. There are occasional clipping issues but this is none too serious as it happens very seldom.
All in all, Singles 2: Triple Trouble is a monotonous and shallow game, which is only fun in sporadic episodes. It is useful for chasing away boredom for a couple of afternoons, but it lacks real depth by focusing on the superficial level of human relationships. It failed to entertain me, but your experience may still differ from mine if you do not feel inclined to engage in the complex mechanisms of virtual courting (which is simply a euphemism for getting laid).
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