The Sims Makin' Magic Review

Makin' Magic is the last expansion game for The Sims as Maxis concentrates all of its resources on completing The Sims 2.  The Sims series ends with more of a bang than a whimper as Makin' Magic brings the biggest changes to the game than any other expansion to date.  The game that began life as a "life simulator" is now taken over by magic spells, skeleton maids, and gardener gnomes.  Since the game is so radically different, it won't appeal to all The Sims fans.  However, if you can't get enough of The Sims or are looking to reenergize your enjoyment of the game you should definitely give Makin' Magic a look.

A sim puts on a magic show.

The fun all begins when a mysterious stranger drops an equally mysterious package on your doorstep.  Opening the package reveals a magic kit containing everything your sim will need to dabble in the supernatural arts.  Inside there is a magic wand, a charger for the wand, a spell book, a few magic coins and ingredients, and a magic rabbit hole that you can use to get to Magic Town.  The basics of spell casting are simple - look up the ingredients of a spell in your spell book, place the ingredients in the wand charger, insert your wand, and, presto, you have a charged wand ready to cast a single spell.  There are a couple of catches, though, to keep things interesting.  The first catch is that the book does not tell you what spell you get with each recipe until after you try it our yourself.  The second is that your sim won't be able to successfully charge his or her wand for higher level spells without some skill in magic, even if the right ingredients are on hand.  Finally, a fully-charged wand does not guarantee a successful cast.  Try to cast a spell that's beyond your abilities and it will backfire on you with negative consequences.  For example, the magic kit comes with the ingredients for your first spell, Toadification.  Charging your wand with this spell is easy, but don't be surprised if the spell backfires on you several times early on and you spend some time as a toad yourself.  You also need to be careful about who you target with your spells - pick on someone better than you at magic and you'll find them reversing the spell on you.

In addition to the wand spells, Makin' Magic has another class of magic known as charms.  While wand-cast spells are spells for the sim on the go, charms are objects that are placed in the home and sit quietly until you activate them.  Charms are more sim and home focused spells, such as one that summons a magical house cleaner to straighten-up your place.  Like spells, charms can backfire with negative consequences, so you may inadvertently summon a spirit intent on unmaking your beds.

Between the spells and the charms there's plenty of magic available for your sims to learn.  Players will enjoy tracking down the magical ingredients and unlocking new spells, and it will take some time before your sim can cast everything.  Higher level spells will take care of satisfying your sim's motives for you, leaving you with even more time to practice your magic.  There are also spells to provide you with free replacements for your hired help - gnomes can be put to work in the garden and pink flamingos can be turned into lively party hostesses, for example.  There's certainly a lot to this expansion pack - in addition to the entirely new aspect of gameplay, you get 175 new objects and even the chance to own a pet dragon.