Playboy: The Mansion
Videogames give us the gift of escape. By simply turning on our favorite console and picking up a controller, we can forget who we are during the day and temporarily become a fighter pilot, or a Navy Seal, or a medieval warrior, or whoever you wish to become. Games like The Sims and The Urbz have taken this concept one step further, by allowing gamers to portray another person altogether in a “life simulator” of sorts. The latest game in this “real life” genre is Playboy: The Mansion, a game that gives gamers the opportunity to become Hugh Hefner, founder of the Playboy empire.
Presented in the now familiar Sims-pseudo-3dish point of view, gamers assume the role of Hugh Hefner, playboy extraordinaire. The long-term goal of the game is to build the Playboy Empire to the huge success that it has become in real life. To do that, you’ll need to complete all the tasks assigned to you throughout the game, from making business contacts to scheduling photo shoots to schmoozing rock stars in hopes of landing them for an interview in next month’s magazine. And, along the way, you’ll throw a ton of parties and have a lot of virtual sex.
Throwing parties in Playboy: The Mansion is a requirement. After picking the time of day, the dress code, and who’s on the invite list, Hugh’s pad will soon be hoppin’ with some of the biggest-breasted pixels you’ve ever seen. Each person you meet in the game can be engaged. While talking with them you’ll see a meter that shows your relationship levels with each person in the areas of relationship, business, and romance. While talking with NPCs, you can select how to steer the conversation by clicking on such bubbles as “talk business”, “flirt”, or “tell a secret”. Each choice moves one of the three meters either up or down. As the meters move, different choices become available. Compliment leads to Flirt; Flirt leads to Hug; Hug leads to Kiss; Kiss leads to Make Out; Make Out leads to Sex on the Couch. During Sex on the Couch, your female visitors will drop their tops and perform a weird kind of lap dance, complete with lots of giggling and jiggling and PS2 controller vibration.
The bigger goal in Playboy: The Mansion is to put your monthly magazine. By inviting the right people to the right parties, you’ll begin making business associates. You’ll need to hire photographers, authors, and interviewees, as well as hot virtual ladies in order to get your magazine off the ground. Once you get your centerfold picked you’ll need to schedule a photo shoot, a process that involves picking outfits, locations, and even snapping the sexy pictures yourself.
As your magazines begin to roll off the presses, the money will start coming in. You’ll use your growing income to buy amenities for the mansion and hire bigger and better staff members. Of course the more money you have, the bigger your parties will be, which ultimately means the more people you’ll be able to have sex with.
So with all the sex, parties, and virtual boobies contained within Playboy: The Mansion, what’s wrong with the game? Unfortunately, plenty.
For starters, moving around within the mansion is often a pain in the butt. It’s too easy to get trapped between a piece of furniture and a Playboy bunny standing around having a drink. In fact, a lot of the character sprite-collision system is wonky. Often times when you’re making out with one of your cyber-honeys, your arms will burst out through her chest like some sort of strange horror film. And if you think that’s weird, just wait until you make Hef try to get up after having sex – half the time the woman of your dreams will stay where she is, dry humping your expensive furniture long after you’ve left the area.
Of course the biggest problem with Playboy: The Mansion isn’t the collision detection; it’s that it gets boring, really quickly. Once you’ve humped all your party guests and staff members, all that’s left to do is work on the magazine. This stays pretty boring, as hiring people and wooing famous celebrities to your magazine gets pretty monotonous. Of course this is done by inviting them to your parties, where they get to stand around and watch you have sex on the couch with your staff members. And so on and so forth.
Don’t get me wrong – I’m sure it’s a heck of a gig to have in real life, but if I’m going to play a videogame and fantasize about being someone else for a while, I’d rather be Luke Skywalker, or Dirk the Daring, or even Mario than Hugh Hefner. I don’t need to be reminded that it’s Friday night and the only boobs I’ll be seeing tonight are virtual ones.
Playboy: The Mansion feels more like a nudity hack for The Sims than a game worthy of the white bunny’s approval. It’s certainly not dirty or interesting enough to keep older gamers’ interests, and yet it’s a bit too risqué for younger gamers. That leaves … nobody, which is who I predict will be playing this game a year from now.