There are three things you can count on: death, taxes, and Sims expansion packs. We can do without the first two, but we'll happily take the latter. The original The Sims received a whopping seven expansions, and now The Sims 2 receives its first pack in the form of The Sims 2 University. Cynics might argue that this is all overkill, but when a game is a huge creative and commercial success like The Sims 2, who wouldn't want more? The Sims 2 University sure gives you more. You get a whole new young adult life stage, plus a new influence system, new careers, new interactions, new items and decorating schemes, and, of course, a whole new experience: university life. That new life experience is something of a letdown, but the new items and strategic options more than make up for it.
Many fans were skeptical when the theme of this expansion pack was first announced, but have no fear. Even if the college-lifestyle angle doesn't appeal to you, you'll still get plenty of features that apply to the core game, too. There's a new influence system that lets your sims make other characters do their bidding, from sprucing up the yard to picking a fight with someone to playing with a sibling. Your sims gain influence points by fulfilling "wants," which is akin to how the existing aspiration system works. Now, many familiar goals, like a sim's child making good grades, grant both aspiration and influence points. The maximum number of influence points your sims can store depends on the number of friends they have. In the past, sims who reached the top of their career paths could forget about the hard work of constantly cultivating numerous friendships. But if you want to use the influence system to its fullest, you'll need to keep a bunch of friends throughout the lives of your sims.