Saucy new video game flirts it up
'Singles' brings virtual living to adult level
By Marc Saltzman
Gannett News Service
Editor's Note: The opinions expressed in this column are solely those of Marc Saltzman, a freelance technology journalist whose reviews also appear on the Gannett News Service.
Imagine you're clicking around with "The Sims," enjoying yet another quiet, clean evening at home. But now, after your virtual housemates clean the dishes and watch television, they march arm in arm to the bedroom, disrobe and jump under the sheets.
This is what players can expect from the racy "Singles: Flirt Up Your Life," a download-only European import published by Eidos Interactive.
While not as deep or well-rounded as "The Sims," this mature title is fun for those looking for an eyebrow-raising interactive experience.
Players first select from one of 10 men and women -- each with their own unique personality, job skills and appearance -- who must move in together and, with your help, work their way up from strangers to acquaintances to friends to lovers.
Lisa, for example, is a bookish photographer who prefers jeans and a T-shirt over sexy ensembles, so it may take some patience for her to attract the attention of Nicolas, a disturbed, tattooed musician who resembles rocker Trent Reznor.
While there is some variety among these singles, including an optional gay man and lesbian, all are Caucasian.
Along with decorating the house, players must manage the singles' needs (hygiene, hunger and comfort) and help them advance in their careers.
Much of the game-play revolves around developing the relationship by selecting from varied dialogue balloons, performing actions and getting down to the buff.
Warning: You'll be confronted with full frontal nudity -- but what would you expect?
This is a curious goal for a computer game, but it is fun to watch your singles flirt, joke and bond. And no, there isn't much explicit detail. The highly detailed 3-D graphics and intuitive free-roaming camera are two of the game's greatest achievements.
Because the game-play doesn't change from one couple to another, and because there aren't too many objects in the game to add onto the house, "Singles" grows repetitive after a while. The game also suffers from technical problems, including long load times and poor performance on some ATI video cards.
Bottom line: Fans of these kinds of games may not get much out of this stripped-down "Sims" experience, but closet voyeurs who have always wanted to see their virtual housemates knock boots may enjoy this adult title.
Singles can be downloaded at www.singles-thegame.com; the first hour is free, then players are asked to provide credit card info to unlock the rest of the game. It's rated "AO" (adults only) by the Entertainment Software Ratings Board and is not suitable for players under 18 years of age.