Why live life when you can live as a Sim? Developed by EA Black Box and Visceral Games, The Sims 3 is, you guessed it, the third iteration of the series. With the original Sims and Sims 2 released in 2000 and 2004, EA had a big act to follow, as those 2 games were show stoppers for the simulation genre. The aim of the game is to take control of a Sim, or Sims, and lead them through their life.
Through bad and good, fire and water and to hell and back again… well… not quite that bad; but there’s a lot do in a lifetime right? Can the Sims 3 take its place beside its brothers? Or is it just more of the same? Hit the jump to find out!
Out there in the gaming world there really is nothing quite like The Sims. It’s a real life simulator. Sure you’ve got stuff like Animal Crossing and Giftpia, but it’s just not *human* enough. This game truly allows you to live a life exactly how you want it, whether you want to have 200 kids, or be filthy stinkin’ rich. You can do it all. Your main “quest” in the game, would be to get a job, find a lady/young fellow to mate with, have a bunch of children and then… die. A game where you die of old age sounds exciting doesn’t it? But wait, there’s more. If you have kids when you die, you continue controlling them, so really, the game never ends! Unless you’re infertile.
The Sims as a series has defining strengths and weaknesses, some of which have changed in this latest iteration. Such as the ability to drive and an open world map. Others such as the occasional AI problem rarely occur due to greater advances and game development; but once in a while it might happen. Another complaint I have is with the sound, you’ll see what I’m talking about.
While visually it’s not a huge step up from The Sims 2, the graphics are still pretty damn impressive. The whole town is rendered as one, so that excuses the minor lackluster in looks; as too much would slow the game down terribly. The most noticeable differences are in the textures of the objects and Sims. The Sims now look more realistic, they still hold that “simmy” EA look, but they are a lot more professional looking; especially the hair, which now looks a lot more real.
Depending on your computer speed the animation will flux. Now my PC is only just good enough to run it, so I get a bit of slowdown when I zoom out too much, but if I concentrate on my house the game moves smooth as hell; with the Sim animation flawless. Earlier I mentioned sound problems. It’s not that the sound is bad, or of poor quality; but it feels like it’s just been copy/pasted from the Sims 2.
So come on EA, break out the fiddle and write some new tunes will ya! Even though the music is catchy and gives a bit of a nostalgic flash back, it would have been nice to hear something new. Voice acting must be fun to record in the Sims, because the jibber jabber nonsense is back and it sounds better than ever. You can even choose between 3 voices for your Sim, and the game allows you to modify pitch too; so your Sim sounds unique!
The most important part of the Sims games is the interface; how easy is it to play the game? Through all previous games and expansions the simplicity of the game made it a smash hit, it was easy to do as you like; though things are a bit more complicated with The Sims 3, it’s still a cake walk. The “create a Sim” function has been greatly modified; you can now change the fat and muscle mass, along with hair colour customization.
You can even create your own clothing with a texture customizer. Your Sim can now be you, from the shoes to the hair to the colour of your shirt. Personality configuration has also been upgraded. You now have to choose traits for your Sim (More than 60 to choose from); these range from Daredevil to Kleptomaniac. Toddlers have 2 traits, and as you age you gain more, finally reaching 5 as a young adult. The traits you choose alter which life ambitions you have access to, and you can now edit a Sims favourite music genre, food and colour.
The buy and build functions have also received quite a makeover. You can now place objects in your house diagonally, and the square grid is now smaller for greater precision. Furniture is able to be customized, like you can with your clothes, so go nuts making your house a pink leopard skin paradise. Shortcut features include an auto-roof function, a sledgehammer for mass demolishing, as well as now being able to place objects on tables and counters with more freedom; even going so far as to leave a vase teetering precariously on the edge of a table.
In the first two Sims games your Sim had 8 general needs; but The Sims 3 cuts it down to six, (hunger, bladder, energy, social, hygiene and fun), removing comfort and environment. These have been replaced by “mood-lets”. You could call these the highs and lows of life, giving you little boosts and dips in the day depending on how it’s going. You’ll get a lower mood from working hard at your job because you’ll be stressed out, but a high mood lift if you get to Woo-Hoo with that sexy lady from next door. This is a great feature because it really shows how your Sim feels about his life, rather than arbitrarily complaining about what’s in the room.
Some of the best parts of the game involve your Sim learning new skills. I spent days teaching my Sim to paint and play guitar; and it’s very entertaining seeing how they progress through their skill. I was half disappointed when I found out that you can’t actually DRIVE the car yourself but it’s not a racing game so whatever; it’s still fun to go out and explore the whole town, from city hall to the graveyard. The commercial lots now allow you to get part-time jobs, buy shares in the company and take classes to improve skills.
The first time I played the game I played for 6 hours, without even noticing. The game sucks you in completely and you don’t notice the obvious repetition of it all. Sim wakes up, Sim has breakfast, Sim goes to work, Sim comes home, and Sim goes to sleep; REPEAT. It’s all the little things in-between like going out to dinner or chatting up the maid that keep you going through it all. Seeing as once your Sim dies you keep control of the kids, technically you could keep playing it forever starting from just one man. Your Sim a year from now could be the great great grandson of your original Sim; which when you think about it, is a very cool concept.
I have one and only one problem with The Sims franchise, it comes in the form of one word; Expansion. You know for a fact that The Sims 3 is going to have a metric-tonne of expansion packs with new content, and while new stuff is a good thing, you know EA have left it out deliberately. Why? Because they know people will buy it, and so they make more money. I know that once the 4th expansion comes out I’ll be wishing I had waited to buy a bundle with them all in.
Gamers of all ages have been waiting for this game since the Sims 2 was announced, hoping that it would take leaps and bounds in the genre, and to be honest it hasn’t quite lived up to my expectation. I’ve played the The Sims 2 a lot, and most of this stuff could have been introduced in a big patch. A new game wasn’t needed but it’s nice to have and it’s still a great game.
But if you are expecting a whole new experience you’re going to be let down, it’s as great as the previous games but not much better. The Sims 3 could have been turned into something like Sony’s HOME, with massive online capabilities with thousands of player Sims roaming a world at one time; or like Animal Crossing where you can invite your friends Sims to your town. Maybe we’ll get an experience like that with the next game.
The Sims 3 is going to be a smash hit. It’s got all the ingredients for success and it’ll sell purely on reputation alone. I can say that I enjoyed it a lot, and am still playing it with a smile on my face; though that could be because of character who’s life ambition is to be the Emperor of All Evil (That ambition ACTUALLY exists), but you’ll just have fun messing with the damn game.
While it’s similar to the previous titles it’s got enough new content to warrant a buy, but I can’t shake the feeling that expansion packs are only around the corner. Good job EA, now I can live life in a virtual world in a way that lets me catch fire, kick flamingos, slap old women in the face and become an Emperor of Evil. What a game.
Great visuals and layout, however it has the potential for massive amounts of realism; but just won't take that step.
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Hardly any problems, and when they do occur they don't lower the experience.
Great tunes, but it's the same old stuff.
Technically The Sims 3 only ends when The Sims 4 is released.
A great addition to an already fantastic series.