My daughter had been telling me for months about a game called The Sims, and press-ganged me into buying it. How glad I am that she did.
Just like real life, you can lead your Sim through his or her life as you would your own. Buy (or build) a house, get a job, fall in love, get married, have kids, grow old and die.
Even if you can't afford all the expansion and stuff packs that have been released, it's still a very enjoyable game. There are far too many variables to list, but each character you create and play can live completely different lives and have different things happen to them, depending on how you play it.
It should, however, come with a health warning, as it's very, very addictive, and there are tons of websites around where you can download new content, or even upload your own creations.
The Sims 2 comes packaged with Body Shop which allows you to re-colour the clothing, hair, facial features and accessories in the game, or even create new items if you know how.
This is a great game that can be played time and again without becoming boring, and should appeal to older kids and adults alike. Very worth the price.
Note: I've played this on Vista and Windows 7 with no problems. You can download a patch from the Sims 2 official website that helps.