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Playboy: The Mansion - PS2 - Review

As a Playboy magazine subscriber for more than 12 years (who only reads the articles), I was looking forward to the release of Playboy: The Mansion. This game did not live up to my expectations. Average graphics, poor gameplay, and some truly strange quirks make Playboy: The Mansion a completely unfulfilling game experience.

At first glance, the gameplay of Playboy: The Mansion seems pretty exciting. Who wouldn't want to live out their fantasies through Hugh Hefner? You easily sweet talk women, convince men that you are their friend, and devote time to putting together the most famous magazine in the world, Playboy. After the first few missions, the game devolves into randomly clicking on conversation points, without even paying attention to what you are doing, as there really isn't an incorrect way to do things. Out of hundreds of conversations I had with other characters in the game, I only experienced one negative reaction to something I said (or did) to that person. There are different stats for each person that tells you what their interests are, but it seems to make no difference in any of the conversations you have. In addition, walking around the mansion is pure torture, as Hef moves as slow as a snail. Also, why can't I just walk up the stairs to go upstairs? To go upstairs in the mansion, you have to click the X button, highlight the stairs, and then click on "Use Stairs." To me, this is about three steps too many. The rumble on the controller is used in the most disturbing method I have ever seen in a game. When you are "with" a "female friend," the controller rumbles as "things" happen.

The last game I played on the PS2 was Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, a game which features the graphical power of the PS2. This game looks like a launch title for the Sega Dreamcast. It's fully rendered in 3D, unlike the original The Sims for the PC, but does little to look better than The Sims. The textures look almost all the same, and there are many graphical glitches, especially when getting in or out of the pool. You can only zoom in a little bit, a feature which some people will find unfortunate due to this game's "natural assets," which beg to be zoomed in on. Also, I would have a appreciated a feature to completely remove the walls from the house, so that you can see the action from any view you would like. The character models are not varied at all, either. Almost all of the characters look the same, with different hair/skin combinations, and different clothing.

Most of the sound in Playboy: The Mansion consists of the Sim-like speech, which if you have ever played any of the Sims games, you will instantly recognize. There are few other sound effects besides the speech, except for some "oohs" and "aahs" from the "on-field action." The aspect that redeems the sound is the mix of songs playing on your stereo in the mansion. Most are not from any band instantly recognizable, but all are interesting, nonetheless.

The difficulty level in Playboy: The Mansion is extremely easy, especially the first few levels. It is definitely not anywhere near the difficulty (or frustration) level of this game's brethren, Leisure Suit Larry: Magna Cum Laude. At the beginning of each mission, you get some goals to accomplish, which you seem to have an almost unlimited amount of time to finish. The main goal is to publish each month's issue of Playboy. Get a centerfold, a cover shot, an article, an essay, a pictorial, and an interview, and you can publish your own miniature version of Playboy. After accomplishing each goal, you get points, which you can use to buy Covers, Centerfolds, and some pictures of Hef from the real Playboy magazines. Of course, most of this content you could find for free (or a small fee) on the Internet.

The game's developers took an excellent concept for a game, with backing from a well-known brand, and turned it into a mediocre Sims clone. If the gameplay was less repetitive and had more things to do, with some better graphics, this could have been a quality title. Unfortunately, Playboy: The Mansion just does not live up to the quality that I have come to expect from the Playboy name.

Reviewer's Scoring Details for Playboy: The Mansion

Gameplay: 6.0
Playboy: The Mansion's gameplay gets very repetitive, very quickly. There is hardly any variety in anything you do. Throw a party, impress some people with the same conversation options every single time, and accomplish the goals given to you.

Graphics: 5.5 
The PS2 is capable of so much more than this game accomplishes in terms of graphics. Any of The Sims games blows Playboy: The Mansion away. 

Sound: 7.0
Most of the speech of the characters sounds like a dialect of Simish spoken in The Sims. The only part of the sound that redeems Playboy: The Mansion is the eclectic mix of songs available.

Difficulty: Easy
Throw party, navigate menus, repeat ... there is not a lot of strategy involved, or much difficulty in the game, especially in the earlier missions. It is extremely hard to not be able to play this game well.

Concept: 8.0 
Playboy: The Mansion takes The Sims, and throws in some more adult situations. It doesn't focus in on just the relationships like Singles: Flirt Up Your Life, but takes some of the concepts from both games for an interesting concept of a game.

Overall: 6.6
The developers of Playboy: The Mansion took an interesting concept and made a mediocre game out of it. Not quite as creepy as Singles: Flirt Up Your Life, not quite as frustrating as Leisure Suit Larry: Magna Cum Laude, but nowhere near as good of a game as anything from The Sims franchise.

Above Average

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