The Sims 3 Review
We review the game all Sims fans have been waiting for.
Review by Tracy Bosworth
Published 3rd June 2009
The Sims 3
- Developer: EA Games
- Publisher: EA Games
- Release Date: 5th June 2009
Finally, the game which has had Sim fanatics daydreaming, twiddling their thumbs and counting down the days to release has finally arrived ... but not before time. The first glimpse the world had of The Sims 3 was a virtual “teaser,” appearing as a computer game in a Sims 2 expansion pack. This started off numerous excitable rumours about the imminent release of the long awaited The Sims 3 game and the fans have been hanging on the edges of their PC seats ever since.
Imagine the disappointment then, when the proposed release date for February 2009 was cancelled merely a week before the date. Fans that had planned on receiving their copy 7 days later, were then told they would have to wait for an extra whopping four months! The Sims 3 fan forum was not a happy place. Accusations were flying left, right and centre and EA seemed dangerously close to alienating their fan base. However, things soon calmed down again, excitement built up and now, one week before release date, we finally have our hands on the finished product.
Was it worth the wait? Even the extra four months? Will all be forgiven? Or will ebay suddenly become over-run with The Sims 3 games whilst fans go back to their beloved Sims 2? Well, I can safely tell you that as promised, EA have managed to bring The Sims franchise to a whole new level. Many, many improvements and as far as I can tell, no compromises. Simply put, The Sims 3 is amazing.
First thing I noticed was the slim casing. I wondered how they had managed to fit four disks in a normal PC case ... the answer was simple; The Sims 3 takes only one disk. That’s right, the bulky, four disk lark that was The Sims 2 has been replaced with a simple one disk game. This obviously reduces installation time dramatically and that is the story of the entire game. Less waiting, more playing.
That brings us to the major selling point of The Sims 3. EA promised us that loading screens would be a thing of the past; Sims would be able to travel from their homes to community lots in a matter of seconds! Well, the promise stands. It is now a simple matter of zooming out of your home, clicking on a community lot or neighbours home and telling them to go there. You can then choose to either follow them, or stay at home with the rest of the family. This was especially useful when I needed one of my Sims to catch up on some skill points whilst another needed to go out and socialise. I sent her down to the park where she became involved in a chess tournament with a couple of strangers (who she then befriended) whilst I stayed at home with the other Sim.
The game now feels much more natural and relaxed. No longer do you have to wait for ages for a loading screen to complete just to send your family to the shop, now you just tell them where to go and watch them follow your command before your very eyes. One of my Sims is a keen gardener and he’d grown a little vegetable patch in the back garden. One day, whilst his wife was out at work, I sent him to the grocery store to sell his produce. No loading screens, I just sat back and watched whilst his wife returned from work and put the dinner in the oven and he came back from the grocery store more socialised and a few simolians richer.
Opportunities sometimes arise in The Sims 3 to advance your career, make you more popular or increase your skill levels. For instance, one of my Sims was asked to make a group serving of desert and take it into work. She did and the next day, she received a pay-rise for her team spirit! Another Sim was challenged to a chess tournament at the park, a cash reward was offered as well as a skill increase and the prospect of new friends. It passed away the Saturday afternoon in Sunset Valley quite nicely!
That brings me to another point. Your Sims now live out a proper week. Sunday to Saturday and are paid by the hour, rather than by the day. This is beneficial in one way because if you schmooze up to your boss and earn a pay rise, an extra $4 an hour really makes a difference. In other ways it can have its drawbacks. If for any reason you are sent home early (for example, promotion) you are only paid for the hours you have worked, not the entire day. I really liked the week feature though, the idea of working all week and then spending the weekend at the beach with the kids really appealed to me I think it’s that realism thing again, The Sims 3 is full of it!
I have been playing The Sims 3 now for four days and the realistic touches still make me smile. For instance, I sent my Sim down to the library one evening. Whilst there I witnessed a few members of the Landgrabbe family gathered around a table reading together. In another room, a Sim sat engrossed on a PC and the real gem was when I found a young toddler playing alone happily in the library children‘s room.
The whole town is alive and buzzing with different families and interesting characters. Go down to the park and see families sat on the grass having a picnic in the sun. See parents having a leisurely game of chess whilst their children play on the swings. Go down to the beach and see parents lazing on the deckchairs whilst the little ones play in the sand. The possibilities really are endless! There is so much to do here, so many scenarios and so many ways to play the game.
Another great addition to the game is the personality traits of Sims. I can explain this best by my own example. So, meet the Jones family. A young couple consisting of Matthew, work obsessed, money driven and frankly, quite boring and his young girlfriend, Maria. A flirtatious, selfish and pleasure driven man-eater! One day, Matthew came home from working hard at the office (another addition, you can choose how hard to work or whether to spend your day chatting to colleagues instead!) and the first thing he did was get out his laptop and start working from home! Maria came home an hour later and wanted to go out. Reluctantly, Matthew agreed to join her at the gym and off they went. A few seconds later, Maria has changed into her sports gear and is running for her life on the treadmill but where is Matthew? Well, unfortunately Matthew had bumped into a fellow workaholic in the gym lounge and a conversation had erupted all about work. Matthew had finally found someone who understood his drive for work, who wanted to chat about money and who understood the importance of a good career. Before long, Matthew and his new best friend are making jokes over dinner in the gym cafeteria and Maria is stuck on her own. What is a girl to do? Well, if you’re anything like Maria you find the nearest hunk and chat him up ... flutter your eye-lashes, tell a few naughty jokes and before you know it, you’ve found a new reason to attend the gym!
The Sims 3 now helps out its players by indicating how a conversation is going. For instance, Matthew’s work obsessed comments go down well with fellow workaholics (a message comes up telling you that the Sim finds Matthew sociable and friendly) but try the same stunt with a fun loving teen and you may get a message telling you that the Sim finds Matthew boring. This helps when trying to make new friends, although trying to get Matthew to talk about something other than work may prove difficult! Just ask poor Maria!
Another feature in The Sims 3 is that social interactions depend totally on your Sims personality. For instance, “chat about work” will probably never be an option with a Sim like Maria just as “chat about children” will never come up with Matthew. Good Sims will have the option to donate to charity whilst a mean spirited Sim would probably cringe at the thought!
Speaking of personalities, I should probably mention the new Create a Sim mode which, again is on a whole new level to The Sims 2. It is now possible to adjust body weight, skin colour and muscle tone and even voice with the use of a slider. No longer does the player have to choose between “fat or thin”, “weak or buff” etc. You choose just how big you want your Sim to be. My only complaint here is that you still cannot change your Sims height.
As far as appearances go, it is now possible to make your Sim look like anyone you could possibly imagine. Each facial feature is customisable. Eyes alone have numerous different slider bars allowing you to choose the angle of the eye, the shape, the corners, the width, the height even the eyelids! Same goes for the mouth, nose, ears, and cheekbones. To be honest, there are so many ways to customise the face that I just didn’t have the time to try out the full potential of this feature. To create your perfect face, it would take time and patience but I have every faith that you would be able to create any face you had in mind if you were willing to put in the effort.
Of course, unlike The Sims 2, Create a Sim no longer stops at appearances. You now have to choose five personality traits for each character from a huge list comprising of things such as “Green Fingered” (a love of gardening), “Natural Cook”, “Dislikes Children”, “Childish” and “Never Nude” as well as many more enabling you to create the Sim of your dreams, or even yourself!
Another welcome feature is the improved mood system. No longer do Sims constantly need the toilet, need to socialise or eat. Now, the Sims hunger motive immediately fills as soon as they sit down to a meal, if it’s a good meal they’ll remember it for a good few hours afterwards too contributing to their good mood. The toilet thing usually needs doing first thing in a morning but after that the Sims tend to take care of themselves. I watched Maria once as she climbed out of the gym’s pool, used the toilet on her own accord and them went back into the water to have a “stop breathing” contest with a fellow Sim! You can leave them for hours to their own devices and they’ll take care of themselves.
Graphically, The Sims 3 is only slightly improved from the previous game. Animations and surroundings are very similar but the facial features of the characters have improved and are now much more realistic and pleasing on the eye. The audio is pretty similar too, Sims still talk in their usual Simlish language but let’s face it, after all these years we wouldn’t have it any other way, would we? The music is a little more upbeat, benefiting from a slight overhaul from The Sims 2.
Overall, The Sims 3 does what it promised to do. It brings our little computer friends into 2009 with a complete revamp to game play whilst still retaining the charm of the old sandbox theme. With very few loading screens, The Sims 3 is no longer a chore to play properly, allowing players to truly emerge themselves in the game and their Sim’s lives. Was it worth the rather drawn out wait? Well yes, it was. This is the best Sims game ever and I can’t imagine anyone wanting to play the previous titles after experiencing the realism and freedom of The Sims 3.
Review Score: 9/10
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