Immerse yourself into the gossip and scandals of Wisteria Lane by playing as the new wife on the block in Desperate Housewives. Based on the award winning ABC television series, you wake up in your house with amnesia and must uncover secrets about your life and the lives of others who reside in your neighborhood by exploiting your flirting, stealing, lying, blackmailing, and cooking skills to gain information. The omnipresent voice of Brenda Strong supplies you with background information, instructions, and objectives as your character travels through the neighborhood and shopping center so she can buy home decorations, a new hairstyle, and new clothes.
Your cash flow comes from funds allocated through your husband and his paycheck, but there are ways to pad your wallet that include the weekly women's poker game, stealing items from other houses and pawning them, or seducing random husbands on the block. When you're not weaving your web of deceit and trickery, you can increase your attributes with mini-games like gardening and cooking that feature activities such as boiling water, pulling weeds, and making spaghetti. Desperate Housewives comes with a variety of in-game advertising such as washing machines and other appliances featuring the Sears logo, and on occasions there will be coupons in your Wisteria Lane mailbox that can be printed and used in real-life stores.
How do you translate a TV show like Desperate Housewives, full of cheating, backstabbing, adultery, and downright dirtiness to the video game world? Well, you bring it to the genre that can best represent those devious interpersonal relationships. Thus, it makes perfect sense for Desperate Housewives: The Game to be a Sims clone, and as a result of that it's surprisingly good for what it is.
You begin the game by customizing your heroine; yes, you play as the latest vixen to walk down Wisteria Lane. The customization options are fairly basic, as you'll choose from one of several different body tones, hairstyles, outfits, etc. The same can also be done for your husband and son, the former of who are an M.D. (and a bit of a jerk) and the latter a teenager with a bad attitude. The limited customization isn't too much of an issue however, as later on as your budget grows you can purchase new outfits, shoes, etc. at the in-game mall.
After your family is established, she will begin integrating herself into the naughty neighborhood and follow the game's storyline by accomplishing various goals. During the course of the game your character will interact with all of the major players from the show (minus some introduced last season), including Susan, Lynette, Bree, Gabby, and Edie. There are also other characters invented solely for this game to give it some added length, although they're not really that remarkable. Like any Sims type game, you'll spend most of your time in the game building relationships with your husband, son, and other NPCs. Some of these relationships effect the storyline while others do not, but character attitudes towards your character will fluctuate based on the responses and actions taken in relation to each.
Interaction with the environment is also important, as you must regularly take care of your character's essential needs in order to keep your character happy. Your character has various needs aside from the purely physical of course, which are measured by the needs meter. These include things such as composure (eat well and maintain strong relationships with neighbors), appearance (splurge on the nice stuff at the mall), social (keep up with the latest dirt), and happiness (watch TV, play poker, or even seduce the neighbor - yes, even though you are married). Your character's home can also be customized to a great degree, with new furnishings, placement, etc. to keep your character and her family happy.
As any wife knows, perhaps the best way to keep her family happy is to keep them well fed. Cooking here is handled as a mini-game, where the player chops ingredients, mixes, stirs, bakes, and grills while making sure everything comes out OK. There are other chores to attend to as well to maintain a well run home, including gardening and cleaning. To prevent these from dragging the game down too much, if your character's budget allows it you can also hire a gardener, a maid service, or order take-out. Of course, the take-out won't keep the rest of the family as happy as a good home-cooked meal, but it generally suffices.
On the show, some of the juiciest gossip occurs when the girls get together for a night of cards, thus it's no surprise that a poker mini-game is present here as well. As is the current fad the game of choice is Texas Hold'em, and the game itself is a great way to enhance your family's budget. In addition to gathering with the girls (and cheating when necessary), you can also partake in some "online" poker simulated in-game.
Desperate Housewives: The Game is basically The Sims on Wisteria Lane, and that's really the best way to handle a game like this. It's not nearly as good as most entries in EA's juggernaut franchise of course, but is a decent pickup for fans of the show.
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