The Sims 3
The Sims, originally created by Will Wright in 2000, can easily be seen as the game that brought the general public to gaming. Both hardcore as well as casual gamers sat clustered to their pc for hours. Like a God they built houses and played our Sums puppets in an environment that’s even too crazy for Big Brother. The franchise, good for one hundred million copies sold, had to fulfill sky-high expectations. How The Sims 3 manages to please its fans and does even better than expected is what you’re about to read.
The Sims 3 has a lot of innovations where the open environment is the most notable. The life of your Sim now goes beyond the four brick walls around him/her. Even going to the beach, reading a book in the park, or just go eat with a friend is only a couple of mouseclicks away. No more irritating loading screens but a swift, vivid and interesting city called Sunset Valley after zooming out of your house.
But it’s not just the locations that make the world of The Sims 3 so lively. It’s the inhabitants that give the feeling you’re walking around a “real” city. The interaction between your Sim and the rest is very well worked out and feels very realistic. Neighbours will grow older just like your own Sim, acquaintances will greet you on the street and you’ll often get invitations or remarks that go with your Sim. You can easily go to one of the public places like the library, the beach, the park or even a graveyard. These locations are ideal to socialize with other Sims and practise activities like playing chess, fishing, collecting insects/rocks, etc. And most important of all this: no loading screens.
A second innovation is seen in the character properties of your Sim. Where only five or six were present in the predecessor which had only a limited effect on the behaviour, there’s enormous progress in this sequel. Up to five character properties can be chosen and they’ll leave a decent footprint in the rest of your Sim’s life. The Sims will act depending on their personality and also their work is strongly dependent of these choices. If you’ve got a neurotic Sim then he’ll be happier by obsessively cleaning, but when stress breaks loose this same Sim completely loses it.
Your final goal remains fulfilling your life desire. Gradually you’ll complete smaller wishes for which you get points that later can be exchanged for additional skills like a “steel blatter” that makes you won’t have to go to the toilet that often, of become loved by all your colleagues thanks to “office hero”. Your ultimate wish usually depends on the work you’ve chosen along with your character properties.
The game also plays a lot nicer than its predecessors. The AI of a Sim can take over a large part of the tasks and will take initiative instead of watching a refrigurator for hours. You get more time to hang out with your “friends”, go sporting or do one of the many new activities. The needs Comfort and Surrounding have disappeared and are replaced by small bonusses on the overall mood of the Sim. A good night sleep leads to a couple of hours happyness while the sent of dirty dishes brings forth the opposite.
The Sims 3 has no online mode but the online community did progress. From the game launcher you can up- and download content and read a couple of items on the game. Online EA also added a Sim Store where new hairstyles, patterns, houses, … can be bought for a “small” price. Next to that also user-generated content can be found there which is freely downloadable. The game is delivered with 1000 Simpoints which comes down to 10 euros that can be exchanged in the shop for new content and an entirely new neighborhoor called Riverside is also available for those that bought the game. This is a geste from EA to reward honest buyers with extras instead of punishing them with awkward protection systems and limited installation possibilities.
One of the few downpoints is the quite “limited” content that’s available. Of course we’re all spoiled by the expansions of The Sims 2. After having seen the pets, hundreds of types of furniture, seasons, etc it all looks pretty basic in The Sims 3, but knowing EA the expansions will be coming soon.
The lack of furniture is somewhat compensated by the “create your own style” concept that makes it possible to adjust any object as you want. An ugly white wooden table is formed into a trendy over the top design piece that would even impress Andy Warhol with only a couple of adjustments. There are literally hundreds of patterns, matters and themes you can choose of. More expensive items now only make for better attributes and are of less importance esthetically.
Graphically the game hasn’t really progressed although it does look a bit more detailed than version 2. The Sims look more realistic, without the crazy possibilities you can choose for Sim creation of course, and the neighborhood looks fun and unique. Buildings like the theater and city hall are easily recognisable and the way trees and bushes gently wave in the wind makes for a pleasant appearance.
The Sims 3 will probably not convince those that weren’t convinced with the previous games. Those that like The Sims, however, will be all too happy with this new edition. The game plays better (thanks to the lack of loading screens), offers the necessary improvements and innovations, and stays with well-known formula. EA managed to fulfill the high expectations and can start working on countless expansions. As long as the cow is there, we’ll drink the milk!