A MUST FINAL EDITION TO THE ORIGINAL SIMS
As a series, The Sims is doing great. The game of domestic management has been expanded six times so far, at first simply with new toys and items. As the expansions have come our way, Maxis has stepped away from merely offering new furnishings in favor of adding different kinds gameplay culminating with the numerous job-related challenges in the recent Superstar pack. Maxis's seventh (and final) expansion for the game, Makin' Magic definitely furthers this trend but does so in a way that's slightly out of character with the rest of the series.
To be sure, there's a real fanciful element to even the most mundane aspects of The Sims. Abstractions aside, the series has generally held to a realistic (or real-esque) approach. With the addition of Makin' Magic, Maxis has added a healthy dose of fantasy to the otherwise mundane setting demonstrated in the rest of the series. Whether the subject matter it fits or not is purely a matter of taste, then. Whatever your feelings about turning your ordinary nine-to-fivers into witches and wizards, there's a strong sense of continuity in terms of the style and personality of the expansion.
After you load up Makin' Magic a mysterious man drops a package off on your Sims' front doors. This mystery package contains all you'll need to get started on a new "career" in magic. There's a wand charger, a charm maker, a handy portal to the game's new Magic Town and a few other goodies in the box. The game does a good job of orienting the player to these new items but, fittingly, you're left to discover some of the secrets on your own.
Magical ability is proportional to your Sim's skills. Before you start performing for the public, you might want to test your skills out at the handy magic practice table in the privacy of your own home. When you reach a stumbling block, a dialogue box will appear telling you that you need more of a certain skill. And if you find yourself falling short on logic, for instance, there's a new checkerboard object that lets you improve this skill.
The spells themselves offer a nice variety of effects. Some help you manage relationships. You can hypnotize a Sim into flirting with you, for instance, or even into proposing marriage. Other spells ease the burden of housework. Garden of Plenty takes care of all your plant upkeep. But you'll need to be careful when casting a spell. If you try to cast a spell on another magic-wielding denizen of the neighborhood, it may backfire on you. Likewise, if you cast a spell without honestly needing it, you run the risk of further troubles. Use a mood elevation spell when people are already content and they'll likely just pee themselves. See if that improves their mood.
Though later in the game you'll have lots of these sorts of spells to help keep your household running and your motives in the green, it's a real challenge to walk the path of magic. Things like the skeleton maid definitely help keep things running smoothly but it's still damned hard to balance the needs of your everyday life (cleaning, resting, working, etc.) with the significant time investment required to become a real magician. In combination with the excessive neediness of the Superstar path, this can make the game a real struggle. For some this is merely tedious, for others it's a compelling way to extend the life and challenge of the expansion.
You'll already have your hands full with the search for spell ingredients. The mystery box contains a book of sp