SimspiracyTheory: How to get Sims 2 to look gorgeous on your laptop

I would imagine there’s quite a lot of people who recognise this scenario:

  1. You love Sims 2
  2. You’ve recently bought a shiny new laptop, what with them being so cheap right now
  3. You’re mightily hacked off because your beloved Sims 2 runs like a total dog on aforementioned shiny new laptop.

That was me, up until yesterday. The problem is that most cheap laptops use an integrated graphics card. In my case, it’s a VIA/S3G Unichrome IGP. It’s quite a nice performer with surprisingly good 3D performance. For everything else, that is, except Sims 2 where it’s unceremonially thrown into butt-ugly 800×600 resolution software rendering mode. If you’d like to know what Sims would look like on a C-64, this is it. Yes, it’s that bad.

Like all good conspiracies though, there’s more. The reason why it runs so poorly is because Sims 2 has explicitly been told to run in software rendering unless your graphics card has an ATI, Intel or nVidia chipset. It doesn’t matter whether you can run it – unless it’s one of the big three, no dice.

Thankfully though there is a fix, and it’s a quick and easy one.

In your /Program Files/EA GAMES/Sims 2 (or Sims 2 Nightlife, or any other expansion pack)/TSData/Res/Config folder there’s a file called Graphics Rules.sgr. Make a backup of that file, then edit it in Notepad.

Find the lines below:

 else
    # unsupported/unknown vendor
    setb useSoftwareRasterizer true
 endif

Change the true to false. This will tell Sims 2 to run in hardware rendering mode, regardless of what chipset you’ve got. It should look like this:

 else
    # unsupported/unknown vendor
    setb useSoftwareRasterizer false
 endif

Save the file, and start Sims 2. If all goes well, you should now be able to change resolution, set lighting, texture detail, etc; in other words, it’s worked and you’re now in happy shiny Hardware Rendering mode. I find the best settings are 1280×800, no reflections, medium lighting and textures, high detail.

If it doesn’t then hey, it was worth a try. Change Graphics Rules.sgr back and keep cursing your luck. I’ll bet that this works for 90% of all cheap laptops though.

Please leave a message in the comments if this works for you. I’m interested to know.

Now, if you’ll excuse me………..

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