After some disappointing "Fun packs", the Sims 2 lineup finally has an addition that's worth it! As the name implies, this expansion is all about Pets. Your sims can have dogs (small or large), cats, birds and womrats (basically a guinea pig). There are a lot of fun interactions to run the sims through with their pets. Now for the details:
* Pets! Just about enough said there.
* As with the people sims, pet sims are very well portrayed. The movements and behaviors are very realistic. Just have a people sim play with a cat with a teaser toy and you'll see what I mean.
* Creating a Pet is as easy as creating a people sim. You can modify their features, give them various colored collers, etc. With little effort, I was able to create a cat that looks and behaves very much like our real life cat.
* Create-a-pet also has ability to create a breed. Don't find the breed you want? Make one! There is one exception, noted in the CONS section below, though.
* Werewolves! Don't get too friendly with that wolf that visits your lot...unless your people Sim is a Knowledge Sim. They all seem to WANT to become a werewolf for some reason! The matchmaker from Nightlife sells cures for lycanthropy if you're unfortunate, though. (Hmm...Sims 2 had Aliens, University added Zombies, Nightlife added Vampires, Open for business added robots, and now we have werewolves. Makes me wonder what the upcoming Season expansion will add...).
* Pets can have jobs that add a little income to the family as well. Service Pets, Security Pets and Show Pets are in high demand. Just be ready to teach them tricks so that they can get those promotions.
* Some nice new objects, floor tiles and wallpapers! Most of it is Pet themed as should be expected, but these are actually more useful than much of what is in the "Fun packs".
* New Tools. The "Hammer" tool makes remodeling so much nicer! If you want to make a room bigger, add some new walls outside of a current room, then use the Hammer tool to get rid of the one wall that's blocking the new addition from the old. Much nicer than having to live with all of the previous walls! Also, the walls you remove are assigned a value and then that much is added back to your funds, much like selling old objects to replace with new. Remodeling isn't near as expensive as it used to be either.
* Leveling Tool. Another new tool allows you, with one click, to level an entire lot to the level of the sidewalk. You used to have to drag the cursor over the whole lot (and you had to exclude the boundary squares) to level it and even then, there was no guarantee that it would be even with the sidewalk. This new tool makes it much more simple and quick. You can still use the old leveling tools if you want variable terrain, though.
* Unlockable Goodies. I can understand someone wanting everything available at the beginning, but unlockable content adds a little reward for accomplishing certain milestones. This encourages more play (like we really need more incentive to play this game!).
* Skunk! (Some might consider this a con). Watch out for Stinky Skunk. He (she?) will visit your lot sooner or later. What happens if Stinky Skunk doesn't like your pet? Well...let's just say you'd better have a people sim prepared to give your pet a bath and fast!
* The Create a Pet/Breed utility, though great, for some reason doesn't allow you to modify a dog's leg length. Because of this, creating a believable Dachshund (wiener dog) or Corgi is, as yet, impossible. I'm not a huge Dachshund fan (don't dislike them either), but I do like Corgis, so that was disappointing.
* Bugs! For some reason, some people sims have their wants disappear. Having another controllable sim ask them what they want is one way around this, but it's a pain when you just need one more want satisfied to put the sim in gold status, but you don't know what they want! That's a new bug that I've noticed with Sims 2 Pets. Many of the bugs from previous Sims 2 expansions are still there as well. Does EA know what a patch is?
* Would have liked to have seen a new "Pet Lover" Aspiration in addition to the ones we already have. There is one Lifetime Aspiration (one that creates permanent Platinum Status) for having 6 pets reach the top of their career chains (I believe this one is a potential life time aspiration for Fortune Sims), so the prospect wasn't completely ignored.
* Taking care of and training Pets can be work. If you're a glutton for punishment, get a sim couple who are still early in their careers with a toddler to take care of, then give them a male and female dog, have the dogs spawn puppies, and then start a home business (assuming you have Open for Business expansion). If you accomplish this and keep everyone happy, my hat is off to you! :-)
* Birds and Womrats work similar to the Aquarium that already existed in the game (though you can interact with them, unlike the fish). If you get busy with other things, they're easy to forget and they die (even if you keep the food dish full). Birds can be taught to talk and they will fly around if you let them out of their cage (not sure why I put this paragraph in the CONS section). I don't find the Saltwater aquarium any more exciting than the original one.
In summary, this is indeed the best Expansion Pack yet for Sims 2. On a scale of 1 to 5, I would give this a 7 for fun alone. The bugs, though not show stoppers, still led me to give it an overall score of 4 stars. I still strongly recommend the game, though. The fun does overcome the occasional frustration of the bugs. This one will easily keep me occupied until the upcoming Seasonal/Weather Expansion (I'm assuming every house will need a roof for more than cosmetic reasons when that one comes out).