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Singles: Flirt Up Your Life!

Score: 60%
ESRB: Mature
Publisher: Eidos Interactive
Developer: Rotobee Realtime 3D
Media: CD/1
Players: 1
Genre: God Games/ Simulation

Graphics & Sound:

The models in Singles: Flirt Up Your Life! are very nicely detailed. As the game ships, there is a very limited selection of outfits for the characters, but the game is designed to be modular and upgradeable, so it is possible that additional outfits will be made available later on.

The music is not half bad. It’s all music that’s made for the game, but it’s not grating, at least. The voiceovers are very similar in nature to the voices in The Sims; they don’t actually say anything, they just sort of mutter incoherently in manners that emote what they’re trying to say. The difference is in Singles: Flirt Up Your Life! they seem to babble nonsensically in German.

The scenery elements in Singles, such as the decor of the flat/mansion and the rest, is nicely done – especially the water effects. The sad thing is that their “photorealistic” characters (okay, that’s their hype, and a bit overstated) are censored when they even try to exhibit the “Partial Nudity” promised on the back of the box...


Gameplay:

You start out in Singles: Flirt Up Your Life! with a flat or a mansion, and decorate it so that it’s functional and aesthetically pleasing. Your Singles need an environment that they can thrive and interact in. The idea is quite similar to The Sims, except there’s more focus on the people’s interactions. You’ll need to build up your Singles’ skills in romance, humor, etc. so they can flirt more effectively and try to land each other in bed. This reminds me quite a bit of Playboy: The Mansion with a few exceptions: Singles: Flirt Up Your Life! limits you to the interactions of two people rather than the large number of interactions in The Mansion; and in Playboy: The Mansion, the girls will actually get (visibly) topless.

The sad fact of the matter is that in the U.S. version of Singles, the only real point of the game – a voyeuristic view of the computer generated couple’s intimacy – is censored. Completely. You won’t even see partial nudity (as promised by the ESRB Rating label). It occurs, but it is obscured by a digitized censorship bar. This makes it ever-so-similar to watching a Girls-Gone-Wild Commercial. The only thing that could possess someone to watch one would be the anticipation of seeing something. However, the commercial, much like Singles, blurs out anything that you might actually hope to see. Taking the comparison a step further, it seems that the U.S. version of Singles: Flirt Up Your Life! might make a decent advertisement for the European version of Singles which offers a one hour trial download online. I saw more T&A (and other interesting bits) in 10 minutes of playing this demo than playing hours of the U.S. version. It would take more than an hour of gameplay to get the characters to French kiss, “snuggle” (better translation: grope from behind while standing), or make out in the bed. So you can see these actions in the U.S. version with ridiculous censoring or you can see the characters talk to each other in the nude in the European version’s demo.

The best of both worlds? Purchase the European version of Singles: Flirt Up Your Life!. If you can get your hands on it, you’ll get an Adults Only rating instead of a Mature rating. Then you’ll get to see what you’re playing for in the first place.


Difficulty:

Games like Singles: Flirt Up Your Life! tend to provide the most challenge in the process of trying to juggle the “necessities” – especially while hoping to achieve anything else. The characters in Singles, much like those in The Sims, tend to need to be told to clean up after themselves and to get food when they’re hungry. Also, don’t expect them to volunteer to go to work without you suggesting it. Unlike The Sims, your characters aren’t likely to wet or soil themselves because you didn’t click for them to go to the bathroom. In short, the characters here are not as aggravatingly dependent as those in The Sims.

Also, if you poke around the file structure just a little bit (perhaps in the saved games...) and look for references to “money,” you may be able to modify a saved game and help your Singles become independently wealthy. This makes going to work unnecessary and allows your characters to spend more time getting to know each other.

Another fairly easy trick is to determine the aesthetics effect with the amount of garbage in your Singles’ trash can. If you change that value from a 10 to something a little lower, such as, say, -1000, you find that they actually are happier with a full garbage can. This is good, since they rarely empty it without explicitly being told to do so. How do you change that value? Come on, you’ve got to do some of the work yourself.


Game Mechanics:

One interesting thing about Singles: Flirt Up Your Life! is that it is highly modular and poking around in the files will show some interesting things. For one, the level of nudity (lon) is in a file and can be fiddled with, changing the censorship methods. This doesn’t have the effect you might expect; you cannot disable the censorship. However, you can change it from a digitized blur to a fig leaf with a digitized blur – or better yet, a censoring volume that says “censored” on it (in German?) and looks very much like a white refrigerator box. Imagine a woman in a glass-walled shower wearing a box that nearly fills up the volume of the shower – mmMMmm... sexy. Or something.

With some miner poking and prodding, it seems that the European version (the demo, at least) is not compatible with the U.S. version, and as far as I can tell, the censorship “feature” in the U.S. version is not easily removed, making the game pretty much pointless and serving as a true insult to the North American gaming community.

I would highly recommend the European version of Singles: Flirt Up Your Life! over the U.S. version. The only allure of the U.S. version is the ease with which it can be modified. This could prove interesting to aspiring game developers and modders to play with. However, I have no reason to believe that the European version isn’t just as easy to play with, so again, buy the European version.


-Geck0, GameVortex Communications
AKA Robert Perkins

Minimum System Requirements:



Microsoft Windows 98SE/Me/2000/XP, Pentium 1 Ghz or equivalent, 256MB Ram, 32 MB DirectX 8.1 compatible 3D graphics card, 800MB free hard disk space
 

Test System:



Intel Pentium 4E, 3.2 GHz (Intel Grantsdale i915), 1 GB RAM, AMI BIOS, Radeon X300 Series (128 MB), Realtek HD Audio, Floppy disk drive, 200 GB 7200 RPM, Serial-ATA/150 Maxtor HD (24760 MB free), DVD-ROM, Pioneer DVD-RW DVR-108, Sony SDM-HS73 Monitor, Cable Modem

Microsoft Xbox NBA Street V3 Sony PlayStation 2 Call of Duty: Finest Hour

 
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