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Game Review: Playboy - The Mansion for PS2

Updated on December 4, 2014

Worth All the Moneyz

How I Came Across this Game

As a college student without a whole lot of money, I was looking for cheap forms of entertainment to fill my (limited) amount of free hours with. I decided to buy a second-hand Playstation2 console, as it would only cost me a grand total of fifty-bucks plus six-percent sales tax. Along with the console, I filled my gaming library with the basics: Final Fantasy, Kingdom Hearts, and Guitar Hero. The most “shocking” game that I picked out was Playboy – The Mansion, on a whim. The check-out girl gave me a little smirk as she rang me out.

I was drawn to the game because I thought of it as a joke game. It’s completely hilarious to me to have a game where the whole premise is to publish sexy pictures of women in a magazine in order to increase your money and fame. I thought that it would be like dirty Sims, but with specific targets and goals (and I was not altogether wrong in that assessment.) I picked it up because it was tacky and ridiculous, not because I anticipated it as being a complex, fulfilling, challenging game.

Hef relaxes in a luxurious leather chair with one of his many ladies.
Hef relaxes in a luxurious leather chair with one of his many ladies. | Source

Focus of the Game

The focus of the game is less on sleeping with beautiful, busty women and is more on building an empire and promoting sexual openness and tolerance. This is quite a hefty goal for a decade-old videogame, and it misses the mark in a lot of different places. Sure, there are missions in the game such as “Host a Party for Sexual Researchers,” missions meant to combat sexual and gender-role stigmas, but there are even more missions that fight for the idea rather than against it. There are missions such as “Get and Maintain Two Girlfriends,” which doesn’t do much to bolster the idea of female empowerment and women not being treated as objects or possessions. Each girlfriend also gets a set weekly allowance, like a child. However, out of the two people in the game that give you pointers and assign you missions, one is a woman named Jenny. She is in a position of power over you, so that points more towards gender equality than not. You can also hire women for positions other than Playmates and Bunnies, such as Journalists and Photographers. The game is hit or miss on its sexual equality focus due to its lack of consistency.

It's not what you know, it's who you know

A big part of the game is networking and making friends with people in high places, a task that can get boring and repetitive very easily.
A big part of the game is networking and making friends with people in high places, a task that can get boring and repetitive very easily. | Source

That is So Meta...

While the game is wishy-washy in its focus as far as creating a culturally and sexually innovative empire, it likes to poke fun at itself, which I greatly appreciate. The creators of the game knew that the entire concept of the game was silly in and of itself, so they put in jokes and innuendos here and there as well as ridiculous and poorly designed depictions of female bodies and sexual exploits. For instance, the word “boob” is written on the doors of the Mansion, and the name of Jenny’s dream-team counterpart is Dick. Doesn’t take much brain power to figure out the jokes there. The graphics are poor in comparison to today’s standards, but I can’t shake the feeling that the designers made some of the women’s movements more ridiculous than they needed to be. For instance, the women jump up and down while talking, which is not necessary at all, and their breasts quit moving seconds after the rest of their bodies. Also, if your relationship with a woman is high enough, Hef can have intimate relations with that woman, usually on the leather couch. The entire experience is cringe-worthy and tacky. When the characters reach climax, the controller vibrates. It’s a very uncomfortable scene, and I’m pretty sure the designers wanted to make it as awkward as physically possible, just for giggles.

The Trailer Makes it Look More Fun Than it Is

Game Play

Game play is surprisingly pretty complicated at first. It is like the Sims in the sense that a lot of the missions are based on social interactions with other characters, so there’s a lot of building of relationships which can be dull and time consuming. There is also a lot of financial management, which can be difficult depending on how many parties you want to throw, how many girlfriends you have, and how many people are on your ‘zine staff. The game play isn’t nearly as smooth as the Sims, either (lots of loading pages), and there are glitches. Sometimes you or someone else will get stuck and you’ll have to restart from your last save point in order to get unstuck and proceed with your mission. The missions get harder and more time consuming (but not necessarily more exciting) as the game goes on. Once you get the hang of it, though, the game isn’t difficult to complete, although it’s a game you certainly have to take breaks from in order to keep your sanity.

Cultural Significance

One could hardly argue that Hugh Hefner and the Playboy empire did little to shape the Western world view of women and sex as it is today. The game is cognizant of that fact, too. On the loading pages, you find fun facts about Playmates, Hef, and the magazine in general. (I never knew Hef was such a leading philanthropist and advocate in the fight against HIV/AIDS). As you play the game and complete missions to earn points, you can use your points to virtually collect famous centerfolds and covers to keep in your game gallery.

Does Playboy: The Mansion pique your interest?

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Scorecard

The game is fun to play through once, but it doesn’t have a lot of replay value. It’s not a riveting game, but it has its funny and entertaining moments. It might be fun to play in a party setting just for laughs or when you're killing time during commercials while watching TV. I don’t regret purchasing it, but I wouldn't necessarily be excited to try out other Playboy games.

Score: 6.5/10

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