Life Quest 2: Metropoville
12-step programs may be for those who have addictions and whatnot, but there are also 12-step programs designed to help build someone's life, rather than rebuild it. Take the thriving metropolis of Metropoville, for example. Their equivalent of workforce services has a lovely 12-step program designed specifically for newcomers to town to help them achieve all that they wish, from the perfect job to the perfect house and the perfect spouse with the perfect pet and the perfect 2.6 children. Sounds good, you say? Well, all you need to do is play Life Quest 2: Metropoville, the awesome simulation game by BigFish Games Studios and pretty soon you, too, can realize this version of the American Dream.
Create your perfect avatar to begin your life's journey in this sparkling, nearly crime-free city, a task that can take a bit of time as there are multiple options for gender, skin tone, body shape, and hair. Once you begin you will travel (on foot) to the help center and talk to the counselor there, who will offer you a wheel of 12 different steps to the perfect life. Each of the 12 steps has 3 main goals to accomplish, and you can choose to compete against another character (which will earn more money) or just finish in your own time. You begin with a base amount of Intelligence, Practicality, and Charm, and improving on each will open new doors to opportunity as your life progresses. Travel to work (to earn money and experience), to restaurants to eat (so as not to starve), sign up for classes at the local college (which help improve your stats), to the local gym (physical training which increases your stamina), and a nice variety of entertainment and leisure options to round out your day.
Life Quest 2: Metropoville is a sequel to the popular Life Quest which released 2 years ago. This time around you're not competing with your high school friends (i.e. bitterest rivals) to achieve a goal before they do so you can brag about it at the reunion. No, Life Quest 2 is much more high minded. Well, sort of. Arriving in town (after a hilarious intro film that is not to be missed) you are set upon your path by the helpful help center counselor. Rather than having goals completely spoon fed to you by the game, you are offered a choice of which path to pursue, along with the option of having the game assign one for you if you're really undecided. Find a job, a place to live, make friends, go to school, date, get married, have kids, go on vacation, and generally have a fun time as you work your way towards your ultimate life goals.
Analysis: Life Quest 2: Metropoville is not a very complex sim, although it has added a new layer to the original game with the friendship aspects. What it has though is amazingly addictive gameplay and attitude to spare, from the amusing friends dialogue to the cutesy artwork and animations, and most especially with the snarky asides that come from the workers at various locations, from the disinterested clothes store clerk (who goes off-shift in 10 minutes and would appreciate it if you would bug someone else, thank you so very much) to the "hanging onto her sanity by a fingernail" daycare worker, each character is unique and fun. These touches keep the daily grind of work-study-exercise-shop from becoming tedious as the player works towards each set goal.
The friendship aspect can take as much or as little of the game as you want, depending upon how you interact with the floating characters who inhabit the city. Chatting with them at each location takes very little time and can slowly build a relationship, but you also have the option of going out on activities with them (choose wisely, grasshopper, taking a vegan to the local greasy-spoon diner can completely demolish a budding friendship), calling them on the phone, and even dating (and marrying) if you want to spare the time, and you will in later levels where you need to get married or run for mayor.
Life Quest 2: Metropoville is pretty open ended, even after all of the in-game goals have been accomplished. You can continue to inhabit this bizarre and amusing world, have more kids, make more money, go back and become expert on every job, get more college degrees, or just futz around and have fun with the wacky characters. The more you play the more there appears to explore, including the shops, the hockey rink, or the local amusement park with its wide variety of rides. Hours and hours of entertainment await those who enjoy living their life through avatars, especially when they're as cute as the ones living in Metropoville.