reviews\ Feb 27, 2005 at 7:00 pm

Playboy: The Mansion - PC - Review

It was only a matter of time before one of the world’s largest franchises spread into the videogames industry. Playboy, the company of famous rich old Hugh Hefner, went from magazines to film to TV to the Internet – and, with the advent of other recent “naughty” games like Eidos’s Singles, it only seems natural that Playboy: The Mansion has been released on consoles and PC. The game puts you in Hefner’s shoes at the beginning of his career, hiring staff, throwing parties, publishing magazines, and getting your name out there. Over the course of 12 missions, you’ll turn a small house into a mansion and a small name into a very, very big one.

Or so the developers hoped. And to be honest, the game isn’t bad. More or less, though, it’s full of things that could have been better than they are, and as a result the game isn’t as engaging as, say, The Sims 2. Nonetheless, it is certainly a simulation game, not – as some might have suspected – a simple excuse to slip some breasts into videogames.


The game plays out roughly like every other simulation-type game on the market.You get to control a character, in this case Hef himself, by pointing-and-clicking his way around the environment. By clicking on certain objects or people, you are presented with options, and it is your duty to make the best of these objects and persons. Before you can get wrapped up in Hugh’s love life, or an extravagant photoshoot, or a new addition to the mansion, you’ve got a magazine to begin to put together.

An issue is published every month, so you’ll get to create multiple issues. Making them is both a glimpse at creativity and a bit of a letdown: you get to choose multiple articles by different authors, pick a cover photo and a centerfold photo, and do a few other simple things like change the font color on the front of the issue. While that’s all dandy and good, that’s about all there is to it – aside from acquiring the photos (which I’ll get to a bit later), all of the articles consist of no more than a title, an author’s name, and a star rating, to place a value on the quality of the piece. Granted, getting “better” editorials is subjective, and a five star system is the only way it really works in context of the game, but still, only seeing the titles of the articles is rather disappointing – not to mention boring, after a short period of time.

Of course, you’ve got to meet people, first, and that’s where throwing parties comes in. At these parties, any number of things might happen. You might meet a new girl that eventually becomes one of Hugh’s girlfriends, or perhaps the next cover girl for your magazine. You might witness some people getting in a fight, and have to attempt to separate them by distracting them with other people in different rooms. Or you might simply get bored, set the game on fast-forward, and try and end the party as quickly as possible. In any case, you’re going to want to set up a photoshoot, as this is the most fun part of putting the issue together.

Once you get a photographer and a lady that’s willing to model, you have to set up a location and have them both in the mansion together. From there onward, though, the camera is in your hands; you get to shoot her from a first-person-perspective until your roll of film runs dry. With a tap of a button, you can ask her to pose for you, or change her clothing on the spot.


Perhaps surprisingly, the game carries only an “M” rating; more surprisingly, and more disappointingly, is that the women in the game are far less titilating than one might have hoped. Aside from the fact that the women’s heads are a bit larger than their bodies call for, creating an unsettling cartoony look, they just aren’t all that enticing. While they animate nicely enough, they don’t really call any particular attention to their bodies or clothing. Changing their clothes is just that – bringing up a menu with a large selection of skimpy clothes – or none at all – and seeing the results instantly. There’s no seductive bra removals or anything of the nature, and it startlingly brings you out of any engaging situation you might have been in. Besides that, all clothing – or nudity – is available right from the get-go. Although swimsuit collecting was a hassle in Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball, it felt a lot more rewarding when you finally saw your girl in a suit than in this game where you’re basically open to everything in the first photoshoot. 

And that’s basically how the game plays out. You put together a magazine, throw a party, meet some people, and put together another issue. It’s fun – for a while. After getting tired of seeing only titles of articles, and doing the same old photoshoots over with slightly different looking girls in different spots, the only thing left to do is unlock the bonus goodies the developers included – which, admittedly, are pretty neat. You rack up bonus points throughout the course of the game, and you can use them to unlock cheats, Playboy covers from the past, or Playboy centerfolds from the past. It’s really a nice addition, adding some much needed replay value and a real reason to keep playing.

Graphically, the game is adequate but not very impressive. While the whole affair moved at a nice framerate for me, the character models proved to be decent, but never great, and the mansion seemed a bit too blocky, generally. It just lacked a real visual flair. While there were some nice additions, like disco rooms and so forth, it all seems very been-there, done-that. It’s not so much bad as it is unexciting.

Soundwise it fares a bit better. While the characters speak in a dull “Simlish” tongue, which seems to be the norm nowadays, the music selection is much more interesting. There’s a mix of pop, rap, rock, and so forth that is actually pretty fun to listen to, and gives the game some welcomed personality.

Overall, Playboy: The Mansion is something of a mixed bag. It’s great to see that the developers didn’t just bank on the license to sell the game – there’s real gameplay here. Unfortunately, there’s not much to it, and what is fun generally gets old quick because there’s little room to grow. The bonuses help, but don’t entirely justify spending more than a few hours of playtime. But if you enjoy The Sims-esque games, and Playboy, you’ll probably have a good time – so give it a look if you fall under those two criteria.

Review Scoring Details for Playboy: The Mansion


Gameplay: 6.5
A pretty run of the mill Sims-type affair with some short-lived but fun photoshoots.

Graphics: 6.5
Not bad, not great; the models don’t do much to stir up excitement, but they look all right from a distance.

Sound: 8.0
Definitely a better area of the game, the soundtrack includes a variety of cool tunes.

Difficulty: Medium

Concept: 7.0
I can’t say it’s an entirely novel concept, and this isn’t even the first game to do nudity like this (Singles even had full frontal nudity, and wasn’t limited to females) – still, it’s relatively fun and not just a licensed piece of junk.

Overall: 6.8
Playboy: The Mansion isn’t a bad game, but it could have been much more. It’s fun to play for a while, though it grows old quickly, and the only real urge to keep playing is to unlock historical Playboy covers and centerfolds. If you think that’s worth your time, and you enjoy both simulation games and Playboy, then give it a go – otherwise, you might be better off sticking to The Sims 2.

Above Average

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