Two words: Bugs and SecuROM v7.
I'd have a lot more fun with this game if I was actually playing it. But as usual, this EP shipped with a bunch of gameplay bugs and also an ugly, potentially dangerous form of copy protection by Sony called SecuROM.
A Brief on Bugs:
- Game shipped w/a programming error that created Tour Guide after Tour Guide, unchecked. Too many character files in a sim 'hood means too many opportunities for them to corrupt and your 'hood to go boom. A third party fansite had a fix before EA did (like two WEEKS before EA did). The fansite fix didn't weigh in at a whopping 15 MB like the EA patch did either, considering the EA patch fixed very few things and another will be needed. Must be fun to download on dialup.
- One of the game's Twikii Island locations has an object issue that slows gameplay to an excruciating crawl. A prebuilt lodge in the woodsy vacation hood has no grill or phones, so sims can't cook or order room service and must leave to eat. A secret location in the Twikii hood is so poorly constructed it grinds the game to a halt. Stuff like this should've been caught in testing...BAHAHA! Like they test this game, ugh. Poor devs. I do believe they want to make a great game, but the time constraints put on them by EA management makes them churn out bugfest after bugfest.
- Funky installation errors told some people that they had to uninstall previous EPs to install BV, so they followed that advice and TADA! Doing so wiped out their entire saved games folder. Sure, you should always back up before installation, but that shouldn't happening in the first place.
- This EP has a new 'feature' called the Launcher, which will connect to the internet to inform you of patches or other EA spam before you get to play. Many people, myself included, found that 1) this game takes long enough to get running, extending the misery for spam isn't appreciated and 2) bypassing the Launcher via running directly from the SP6.exe made for much smoother gameplay, possibly because the game isn't still trying to connect to the web. *shrug* I don't know, but it did make a difference for me; the game was hitching and lagging the few times I used the Launcher, but was much smoother when I bypassed it and yanked my wireless router cord out of my computer when I played. EA denies the game 'phones home', but denial is their standard fallback position, and it might have more to do with the ugly new noose they've decided to put around our necks w/this EP...
Say 'No' to SecuROM:
SecuROM is Digital Rights Management (DRM) or copy protection software. EA doesn't want you copying the games you buy from them. 'Kay. *cough*violatesFairUseAct*cough* But SecuROM v7 is DESIGNED to disable software, like CD/DVD burner drivers or emulation software, that it thinks might be used for 'pirating'. DaemonTools, Alcohol 120, and the like.
Oh, and factory installed versions of Nero and Roxio too...?
Yes. Seems the version of Securom shipped w/BV wasn't updated enough; anything it doesn't recognize as kosher gets shut down, so if you've got a newer comp, it could very well affect you most of all. It doesn't happen to everyone, but that it's happening at all is unconscionable. Because of a game, some people are having drives REPLACED because they don't know about Securom's effects, reformatting their computers, finding their antivirus settings altered, and in the biggest of ironies, some are searching the web for ways to strip their comps of Securom and use a NoCD cracked .exe to run their purchased games, as they cannot otherwise.
Securom is PIMPING piracy! More simmers than ever are now aware of how to go about it, out of fear of what Securom might do or has done to their own or other people's comps.
In the US, none of the boxes came with any warning whatsoever that the DRM used might cause these kinds of issues. If you install BV, Securom installs with it, and the 'removal' tool from Sony EA was forced to post on the official site (after being harangued into investigating several weeks after BV's release) DOES NOT fully remove Securom from your comp. You're stuck with it, and due to it's very rootkit like behavior, it is a total bear to completely remove. Once you or a tech remove it, w/the Sony tool or otherwise, you cannot play the game you paid for. And problems Securom can create with driver software may or may NOT go away when you remove it, either.
BV has been out 3 months and EA has still not addressed this very serious issue in any satisfactory way. In fact, EA is blithely sticking with Securom for all its future games (it's in a lot of them already). People are contacting the FTC, states attorney generals, and the BBB about this issue.
Some who aren't suffering make light of it, blame people's comps, or call others hysterics, but when something that came unannounced with a game starts dictating what you can or cannot do with your comp outside of the game, it's not hysteria, it's major. It's affecting PAYING CUSTOMERS, people who gladly pay for every title they play and would never condone nor be involved with software piracy, and worst of all - Securom is a total failure as copy protection. NoCD cracks (ie. Securom-less game .exes) were available within 24 hrs of the game's release.
Anyone can understand a publisher's need to protect their product, but not at the expense of people's personal property, time, money, aggravation, livelihoods, etc. If this is the wave of the future, I want no part of it - we own our computers, not EA or Sony.
***If you are responsible for the welfare of your comp, you need to seriously evaluate the possible damaging consequences of installing this EP or any other game that uses such invasive and possibly debilitating copy protection software.***
EA has a Securom board on their official TS2 site, look it over, draw your own conclusions.
Check out the Bioshock, Neverwinter Nights 2, Command and Conquer, and Supreme Commander game boards too. It's not just BV that has these issues; those games all use Securom too and have similar problems.
Do I have anything nice to say about BV? The water's pretty, and walking to lots is cool. But my simming buzz is pretty dead right now from game bugs - and worrying about the future of my computer's functionality if I decide to upgrade a component or add a peripheral that Securom decides it doesn't like.
I wish I'd never installed it.
*Edited, as time marches on. Please see comments for updates.