Singles: Flirt up your Life! Review

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Publisher: Eidos
Developer: Rotobee

Platform: PC
Reviewed on PC
Windows System Requirements: Pentium III 1 GHz, 256 MB RAM, GeForce 2 with 256 MB RAM, Windows 2000, XP or Me

Singles: Flirt up your Life! is a simulation game that focuses on the relationship between two people sharing an apartment, and ends (if you're lucky) in a lot of nakedness and sexual activity. Since the very first time screenshots of Singles: Flirt up your Life! surfaced months ago, mere mention of the game has since been accompanied by nervous laughter and blushing. We're talking about a game that can be shelved alongside Bubble Bath Babes and Custer's Revenge in terms of propriety, but assuming you can get beyond all that, Singles: Flirt up your Life! is actually pretty successful within its niche. The only question is, are you interested in what this game has to offer? The answer, thankfully, can be kept in the privacy of your own home.

Carrie Gouskos

I began playing this game with a completely different set of expectations from the target audience. As a woman, this game is not geared toward me, so my thoughts were similar to the type of thing you see on message boards around the world – people scoffing at the mere idea of a sex simulator, or competing to prove that they are above such matters. As such, I figured this game is based on a ploy that is never going to be effective in the medium of video games. What people aren't saying out loud is reflected in a Google search for "sims nude cheat," which reveals 79,700 results in 0.41 seconds. The Sims: Hot Date is an expansion pack for The Sims (which is essentially the PG-13 version of Singles!) that exists because there is a market for a game of seduction. This market may be full of people who would never admit to this guilty pleasure (or even who you wouldn't want to meet in a dark alley), but it exists nonetheless.

Singles! begins with a very simple premise, slightly different from The Sims, but it's pretty much the same game. You start by picking two out of twelve possible characters, which are the only characters you'll deal with for that whole game. While they don't know each other at first, your goal is to help them get them to know each other (in the biblical sense). The difficulty level depends on which characters you pick. Each resident is ridiculously stereotyped, but this makes it easier to track their interests and abilities. If you want a challenge, match the femme fatale with the nerdy man, and see how truly hard it is to overcome the "Not if you were the last man on earth!" challenge. Thankfully, almost any combination of characters will eventually get it on, which may not be a tribute to realism, but is the reason you paid for the game.

Lots Of Polygons, In All The Right Places

Singles! is actually fairly system-intensive, as simulation games go. The recommended specs are a Pentium 4 1.5 GHz or equivalent, Geforce4 or equivalent with 256 MB, and 512 MB RAM. It's not surprising – we know where they need to put all those extra polygons, and you can see they've put the effort into it. The bodies are very well done, down to every last detail, including full frontal nudity for both sexes. The controls, on the other hand, are like a less polished version of The Sims. Getting used to moving the camera around is the hardest part of the whole game, and ultimately the camera isn't very good, but everything else is close enough to The Sims to be easy to use, right down to the building mode.

The premise is that the female roommate has rented out a bedroom from the male landlord – a scenario that facilitates a whole bunch of inappropriate comments. Neither roommate seems to care, however, because while you do have to maintain their basic functions and head off to a nondescript job daily, the only thing they're interested in is sex. In this way, while the game may intend to mimic reality, there are far too many instances where the game plays out like a porno. If it didn't, the woman would have slapped the guy about forty times and walked out – game over. Because of this, the game is not so much a life simulator as it is a soft-core porn simulator. If you can accept this distinction, Singles! actually does its job fairly well.

Cheesy Pickup Lines As Rewards

In the beginning, you learn the ropes through certain forced tasks, such as unpacking boxes to learn how to buy items and place them in the house. If you've played The Sims, you'll be familiar with much of the game. Once any given "need" meter starts to go down, have your residents shower, eat, or do whatever is required to fill the meter up again. There are also meters for romance and sensuality, which show how comfortable the roommates are around each other and how good their chances are of scoring. Getting them comfortable is a very satisfying achievement, because while in the beginning you can get each of the characters naked individually, they won't stand around each other in even a towel until they get to know one another better. If you force them to strip and walk into the other room, they'll run off blushing and change automatically. Being able to eat breakfast in your underwear is momentous, because it means you have finally established a better relationship.

One thing that distinguishes this game is that there are certain scripted moments, meant to indicate how well your cohabitating apartment dwellers are getting along. These moments come in the form of cheesy pickup lines, but some are quite funny. Once the two are starting to get very comfortable together, the male roommate suggests a game of truth or dare and the female roommate dares him to clean the house if he wants to get anywhere. The game then cuts to the male roommate cleaning the house at an unbelievable speed. While most of the scripted interactions are the type of comments you would hear on a bad date (like "you're so hot you could start a forest fire"), they do offer a great gauge for how far you're getting (as well as shocking you from time to time). It is a little disheartening to see the woman give into the world's worst pickup lines. At first she's very playful, but firm, "If I see a peephole in my bedroom, I'm moving out," but by the end she's falling hook, line and sinker for every one.

Kiss ... And Then Kiss ... And Then Kiss Again

After establishing the basics and maintaining good health and happiness for your, the whole key to the game is the art of seduction. As the characters' levels of romance and sensuality increase, further options are available to you. At first it's merely flirting and sweet talk, but then you get options like "snuggle" (which sounds innocent but really involves some pretty risqué bumping and grinding). Like most games of this kind however, the actions get fairly repetitive, and it becomes a grind (or bump-and-grind) to reach the next level of sexual activity. As you French kiss over and over, in order to unlock the option of making out on the couch, some things are painfully obvious. Most poignantly, a woman would never have to French kiss a man a hundred times before having the option to go to bed with him.

While it is exciting to reach each new plateau of intimacy, until the Big she-bang, there simply isn't enough variation to keep the game going. Characters have very few clothing options and very few intimacy options (not to mention that the entire game takes inside one house with no one else around. While it does execute the sex elements well enough that a modest person might cringe the whole time while playing, Singles! lacks the depth to be engrossing over the long-term as a sex/life/porn simulator. However, like The Sims, Singles! has the opportunity to release downloads and further expansion packs which might adequately enhance the game. If they include many more relationship building activities, a whole closet of appropriate foreplay attire, and more people to flirt with, Singles! could be a worthy contestant for the simulation crown. Perhaps the recently announced Singles: Threesomes will address those concerns. As the game currently stands, however, it is fun and worth playing for a short period of time, but won't keep people interested much longer than that.

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This page contains a single entry by Editor published on June 15, 2004 4:54 PM.

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