Have been playing around with Life Stories and so far I think it's pretty cool. I'd recommend it to anyone who is either new to The Sims or a seasoned player who wants to run it on a less powerful PC.
Once you've loaded it up, the start screen gives you the option of playing one of two preset scenarios - Riley or Vince, or Free Play. I'm not into prescribed play, so I go straight for Free Play.
From here I felt at home with everything the game had to offer (hark at me in my games reviewing mode). Build Mode is available, as well as Create a Sim and all the usual tools and cheats for building seem to work. Free Play is basically the TS2 base game with a few touches from Nightlife (e.g. half walls) and some new floors and walls with the occasional new object. The new floors and walls are much better than in the TS2 base game, so Maxis / EA have clearly learnt something about keeping the more experienced Simmers happy.
The game runs in windowed mode automatically on my XP machine so it's easy for me to switch programs without the tedious business of having to wait around for ages while the PC catches up with events. It did annoy me, however, that I couldn't use edge scrolling in the same way as I used to (normally you can move the mouse pointer to the edge and the screen scrolls with you) and that I couldn't access the camera mode while building. Any screenshots had to be taken using PRINT SCREEN and a paint package. I suppose that's where the windowed mode came in most useful.
Equally annoying was the fact that I couldn't upload my house anywhere. Apparently EA are working on that, though.
Despite the little things, I thought the game was really good value (although some UK stores seem to differ hugely in price - I bought my copy from Gamestation for £19.99 while larger stores were selling it for £29.99) and a good addition to the range as a potted version of TS2. I really hope that EA and Maxis will sort out an option to upload and maybe release a patch or EP to let me share my houses.
I posted pics of my first Life Stories house in a new section of the forum
, so please take a look. Let me know if any you have any questions.