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March 12, 2005
Playboy: The Mansion - Review
Release Date Distributor Developer Players Rating Difficulty
3/3/2005UbisoftCyberlore Studios1MA15+Medium
Save Size Sound Format Vibration 60Hz Mode 50Hz Border Widescreen

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Party time at the mansion.
Let me say this right from the top. Playboy: The Mansion is not a game for children. Would you let your 10 year old son (or daughter I guess) buy a Playboy Magazine? No. Well this game isn't suitable for them either. It contains adult themes, nudity and, wait for it, sex! In this game you get to live the life of the biggest playboy of them all, Hugh Hefner, owner and founder of the Playboy empire.

Essentially this game is a rip-off of Electronic Arts' The Sims, no doubt about it. As mentioned you play the role of Hef, with the object being to build up the Playboy empire complete with lavish lifestyle and of course the mansion. Of course you can deck out the mansion with all the latest gear, funded by the magazine. Of course to show this off you can invite around friends either during normal days, or during parties. These friends and celebratories include actors, athletes, authors, comedians, fashion designers, models, musicians, politicians, and business tycoons among others. The more popular you become the bigger the celebrity that will pay a visit.

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The Future Gamez office - I wish!
Of course the main object of the game is to publish the Playboy magazine. To do this you need to hire photographers and writers to work on the magazine before collecting cover photo shoots and centerfold shoots. Not only do you select the women, but also what the wear, or don't. Ironically although the game says the first bit of bush appeared in the magazine in the 1970's the closest you'll get is some topless women. Your writers will also have to conduct interviews with celebrities and write articles to include in the magazine. Unfortunately the game doesn't let you read any of these. At least some small segments would have been nice. When you have everything in place you can publish the magazine giving Hef even more money to build his empire.

The key to success in this game is the ability to make friends. When someone is in the mansion it is possible to enter a conversation which can follow three paths; casual discusssions, romantic discussions, or business discussions. Depending on the person each can lead to a different result. Casual discussions can result in friendships and being able to invite people to Hef's "inner circle" of friends so they can be invited to the mansion at any time of the day - not just during parties. Business discussions can result in a business deal which can make, or lose, money for the Playboy empire. Finally the romantic dicussions. Approach a woman and enter this discussion often leads to girlfriends and/or some sex for Hef. Let's face it, that's what it's all about really!

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The OFLC passed this - really...
Playboy: The Mansion includes two main game modes. The Empire mode allows you to select your own goals including fame, circulation, guests, etc and then work over a series of months or years to achieve them. Another mode is the Campaign mode which provides dozens of tasks that chronicle Hugh Hefner and the Playboy Mansion's rise to international fame. While not confirmed hopefully there will be plenty of mini-games to keep us entertained as well.

While it all sounds wonderful there are some glaring issues. The fisrt of these is the large number of bugs in the game. In the 4th mission you have to publish an article written by Hef. Unfortunately I deleted it thinkng it wasn't good enough for publication and save the game. It was impossible to progress resulting in me having to resort to an earlier save from the previous day. Quite annoying. The game also has some horrible graphical glitches. At one point a woman in the house lost all the textures off her head and walked around with a bright yellow head until I restarted the game. And the list goes on... In terms of gameplay Playboy: The Mansion makes it far to easy to form friendships as everyone seems to like Hef. Few people ever dislike him, or cause problems making the game a chore by simlpy running around talking to everyone to make friends. Speaking of conversations, there is virtually no difference from the first level to the last in the order in which they take place. It's extremely repetitive, unengaging and rather dull after a while. Finally the photo shoots seem rather poor in their execution. It doesn't matter how great, or poor your shot, it will still get the same rating. Hell, you can even chop off half the womans head and it may still be a great centerfold or cover shot!

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Looking down on the mansion.
Graphics in Playboy: The Mansion really are rather simplistic. The textures are rather plain and the polygon count seems very low. Fortunately all the characters in the game look suitably different to be instantly recognisable on first sight. What really hurts this game is the lack of animations. It isn't long before you've seen it all. A perfect example of this is having sex with the women. For some reason every single woman likes it the same way. When you've seen it once, you've seen it all. There's no new kinky poistions to try out, and certainly there is no interaction in this area. In terms of cut scenes, well, forget it, there are none. The final insult to injury is that during sex Hef and the women (whichever one it may be) manage to keep their underwear on so you won't be seeing any, ermm, private parts.

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On the photo shoot.
Sound isn't anything to write home about. As with Maxis' The Sims titles the characters speak in a sim-lish type language. It's not quite as good in Ubisoft's game, but it does the job. The music includes a wide range of styles from rock to hip-hop - unfortunately the selection of tracks is neither great in quality, nor in selection. Sound effects - adequate.

This isn't a game for children - not at all. Still I guarantee that won't stop some family/church group causing a fuss when some grandchild gets this as a Birthday present one day... At its core Playboy: The Mansion isn't a bad rip-off of The Sims, it just lacks the variety and polish to make it a solid title. Having said that this game is enjoyable in short bursts and is certainly a title which I hope to see improved and expanded in a sequel one day.

Review By: Dave Warner

Order your copy now from Gameswarehouse (PAL version) or Amazon (NTSC version)
GRAPHICSLow polygon models and a lack of animations hurts this title.
SOUNDSim-lish talking and average music becomes quite boring quickly.
GAMEPLAYAn enjoyable title that really lacks any challenge in making friends.
VALUEIt becomes repetitive, but fans of the genre will get value for $79.95.
OVERALLPlayboy: The Mansion isn't without its flaws and could have been done much better, but those who enjoy The Sims and don't mind some adult entertainment should check this title out. Let's hope they make a sequel one day...

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