Review: Playboy: The Mansion (PS2, XB)


Genre: Sim/Strategy
Platform: PS2 (Also On: Xbox, PC)
Rating: M [Mature]
Publisher: Arush Ent.
Developer: Cyberlore Studios
Release Date: 01-25-05

So, you take a strategy/simulation game engine, based loosely on the hugely popular Sims series, add in a “storyline” that allows users to take control of a younger version of ultra-sleazy Hugh Hefner and his Playboy Empire, and you’re left with a big pile of crap that just seems like one long-winded advertisement for Playboy and art of being a social miscreant.

It should be known that before playing the game I’m already automatically biased against it’s content. I hate the Sims. I can’t stand Hugh Hefner and Playboy. Seriously, put them together for a video game and it’s like my worst nightmare.

But I’ll give it a fair shake for the sake of this review.. ok, not really.



STORY

There isn’t really much of a story to be had in Playboy: the Mansion. You’re just presented with the primary objective of running the Playboy Empire as Hugh Hefner – which essentially means publishing the Playboy magazine via a bevy of asinine tasks that you’re given to accomplish throughout the course of the game. Everything from signing up staff to work on the rag, to selecting the Playmate for each month and getting celebrities to flash their faces or names in columns, etc.

The celebs seem to be one of the common themes in the game. You’ve got to get into their good graces so that they’ll appear in the magazine.. and how does one do this? Parties, of course. You invite in some sports personalities, some politicians, movie stars, woo them, get them to contribute to the magazine, and it goes from there. Endless parties. Endless networking. The life of a social butterfly, indeed.

[Rating: 5/10]



GRAPHICS

The graphics aren’t even a factor, really. The graphics are definitely a bit of a letdown by today’s standards. Unfortunately, while games like GTA have an excuse for being a little lax on the graphics due to the immense amount of content.. completely shallow and empty games like Playboy really have no excuse. I’m sorry, I just can’t get excited about topless pixels running around the Playboy Mansion.


…and seriously, would it have been so hard NOT to completely copy the Sims? Hell, even the interface is way too similar.

[Rating: 4/10]



SOUND

Wow, it just keeps getting better – doesn’t it? Ok, not really. The sound is pretty harsh in this game. The music is a third-rate string of artists that no one even cares about. Petey Pablo? Give me a break. Armand Van Helden? Sorry, is this 1992? Garbage, all of it.

Aside from the music, the sounds that the characters make is – yet again – extremely similar to the Sims gobbledygook speak.

Maybe if the music weren’t so generic and uninteresting than the game would seem like it had a little more personality. But sorry Playboy, Def Jam, you ain’t.

[Rating: 4/10]



GAMEPLAY

Boredom personified.

With the interface being the exact same as the Sims, if you’ve played that game, than it automatically makes you feel like you’re just playing the same game all over again.

In Mission mode, you’re just set out to throw countless parties in order to woo celebrities and network some contacts for your mag, that it just gets stagnant and completely boring after the first one.


There is also a Free mode, that lets you do just.. whatever. This game certainly isn’t open ended enough to have a Free mode, so I have no idea why they even bothered.

In terms of actual control, as I stated above, the game mostly revolves around throwing parties in order to convince celebs to contribute to or appear in your magazine. The party guests attitudes toward you and your magazine are controlled by a series of gauges – yes, much again, JUST LIKE the Sims. Gauges range from romance to leisure to entertainment and so on. In order to keep your guests entertained and alive during this boring stint of a game, you need to keep these gauges in the upper levels. Doing so is accomplised mainly by hiring more ‘bunnies’ [romance] and stocking your mansion with lots of televisions and stereos and other entertaining electronic devices [entertainment]. Of course chatting it up and just being a good host to your guests will increase the business and friendship gauges [No shit? Kinda like getting dates in, oh.. what game was that? THE SIMS!], which in turn increases the chances that these chumps are going to be easily suckered into appearing in the magazine.

Who you get to come to these parties can either depend on your choice, or on your assistant. Using the assistant is kind of like a ‘random’ setting that puts together the guest list for you automatically. This doesn’t work out too often, as the assistant tends to randomize a little too much for its own good. You end up with a mish-mash of guests that are impossible to please and hence really aren’t going to do too much for your magazine’s needs – so you’re pretty much better off choosing your own guests based on the games rating system. The higher the rating, the better the guest, of course.

After the party is over, and you’re asking yourself why you’re still playing this game… it ain’t over. You’ve still got to put together the magazine layout. Doing so is easily accomplished by putting the whip to your scapegoat staff members asses and dictating what goes where, the articles, interviews and theme of the cover, etc.

Success of the magazine relies on the afformentioned aspects and what the public is interested in. So, if you want this to be all for naught, then by all means ignore the marketplace stats. Otherwise, yay, it’s a success! I’m sure by this point you’re thoroughly bored with this poor excuse for a ‘strategy’ game and you’re hopefully playing something worthwhile, say, like the Mega Man Anniversary Collection – a game which came out almost a year ago yet still hasn’t lost it’s replay value, IMO.

[Rating: 3/10]



BALANCE

Aside from challenging your brain and tricking it into thinking that you actually want to play this game, then there isn’t much challenge to be found in Playboy: the Mansion. Like the Sims, if you have the time to sit down for hours on end and plan out the characters daily lives and actually enjoy doing it.. then you probably have some other serious problems that you should really look into.

[Rating: 4/10]



REPLAYBILITY

I think it’s been said already. The game is extremely repetitive. Repetitive! REPETITIVE!! Countless parties. Network the celebrities. Take pictures of the same chick in a different bikini each month. Publish the magazine. Oh, variety certainly is the spice of life, isn’t it?

[Rating: 2/10]



ORIGINIALITY

The Sims, oops, I mean Playboy: the Mansion doesn’t have an original aspect to it. It’s a carbon copy of the Sims down to the gibberish that the characters speak. Please don’t try to tell me that this game is a revolution because it lets you life the lifestyle of Hef and publish his magazine, and that it lets you see BOOBIES in a video game.. because if that’s what passes for originality these days than our planet is DOOMED.

[Rating: 2/10]



ADDICTIVENESS

See, it’s games like this when I wished that we here at IP didn’t have so many sections to go through when reviewing a game. It’s times like this that I sit here and think, “well, shit, this game isn’t addictive.. how much more can I write than that?” Then I sit here and start thinking about my grocery list for the weekend and how I need bread and eggs.. oh, and those little microwavable panzerotto pizzas that have five cheeses. Yeah. Those are great.

Oh, sorry. The game.

Addictive? Nah, definitely not.

[Rating: 2/10]



APPEAL

Other than to horny little boys who hope to catch a glimpse of a nipple or two, or to dirty old men who want to identify with Hefner, I really can’t see there being much appeal in the marketplace for a game like this.


I can see how they’re trying to market this to the Girls Gone Wild generation of college guys who, by playing this, might fool themselves into thinking that they know something about how women like to be treated and/or publishing a magazine.. but I think that even those types know the stench of an awful gaming experience when it rears its ugly head.

[Rating: 3/10]



MICELLANEOUS

I suppose I could talk about some of the pointless “extras” that the game offers, but then I’d just be wasting even more of your time thinking that you care about how you can unlock an old interview with Snoop Dogg or some “classic” covers from Playboy’s past. Seriously lame and boring shit here.

[Rating: 2/10]



RATINGS:
STORY: 5
GRAPHICS: 4
SOUND: 4
GAMEPLAY: 3
BALANCE: 4
REPLAYBILITY: 2
ORIGINIALITY: 2
ADDICTIVENESS: 2
APPEAL: 3
MICELLANEOUS: 2

OVERALL SCORE: 31/100
FINAL SCORE: 3.0/10 (BAD)