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(Pocket-lint) - With a continued presence in the UK PC chart, the Sims Brand just won’t go away, but does it have the right to be called the most popular game of all time and more to the point is the latest version any good? We’ve been engrossed in the game for some time and finally surfaced to write this review.

EA (as predicted) stuck to the trusted game formula and for the most part The Sims 2 brings back all the old elements but this time sporting greatly improved graphics. You can now see more detail, get much closer to the action, and design characters like never before.

Previously you could make your own characters, but now you can basically design any face you like - it really is possible to do a photofit-style mock up. Of course, we made James Bond and moved him into a small bachelor pad. There are now a number of neighbourhoods to choose from, and they are bigger and more diverse than before.

Many of the previous expansion elements have been incorporated into the basic game - for example, you can throw a house party, go down town and so on. The Sims community is enormous, so register online, and you’ll find lots of further goodies and extras are available.

The biggest real change in Sims 2 is the inclusion of aspirations and wants. Not only do you pander after the basic needs (energy, hunger, social life and so on) but now you have a range of other aspirations and fears. You have a second control panel where you can look at what your Sim wants - it might be to gain a body skill, or see a ghost. These add up to gaining more points on the scale and a number of awards.

There are also the fears, and as you develop a relationship with another Sim, you might become fearful of your girl refusing a back rub, or even dying. This adds another interesting dimension to the game meaning that there are things to do, other than just go to work and try to get your leg over.

There is also a more defined aging structure, from baby to pensioner. This means you will encounter teenagers, as James Bond has found out to his peril. After putting in the hard yards to befriend this pretty young thing, he then discovered that friendship was all there was going to be. There are also small in game decisions to be made - you might get a pop-up that poses a moral dilemma and you have to choose what you do. The list of features goes on and on, but comes down to one major point - this game keeps moving of its own accord in a more dynamic way than the old.

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So what’s wrong with it? Well it seems a little heavy on its graphical drain. Playing the game at its minimum requirements will not give a very satisfactory experience - especially if you go to a busy shopping mall. The load times are also quite slow, which was complaint of the first version also. There have also been some complaints about the installation process, for example, if you install it in one user profile of XP, then other users can’t play it. EA have now released a patch to deal with this, and quite a few other problems.

To recap

Its bigger, better and more beautiful than before, but those who hated the first, will hate the second

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Writing by Stuart Miles.