This latest main Sims series installment has everything under the sun and then some. Set in Sunset Valley, The Sims 3 has a fantastic mix of open ended play; specific, mission style modes; and new exploration elements which make for a memorable home in your gaming world. Visit other households, stores, entertainment venues, community mainstays as well as new locations including the beach, gym, art museum, bistro, and even…the graveyard.
The game runs very well (check the system requirements) with fewer loading screens and endless creation tools that work easily and efficiently. The visuals, music, sound effects, and famous nonsense Sim character dialogue (a.k.a. “Simlish”) enhance the experience keeping the mood light and restful.
This immense simulation experience allows wide exploration among a complete community that includes just about everything except local churches. Playable activities include gardening (one of the most entertaining), fishing, and rock/insect collecting amongst others. These elements expand appeal, gameplay, and replay value (try fishing behind the science building). Some items require “right place at the right time” scenarios while all exploration items have some option to sell, collect/keep, or even create new items.
Players can choose to create seven different Sim types: baby, toddler, child, teen, young adult, adult, and finally elder, with child and young adult being the new addition from Sims 2. All ages types advance with birthday cake events… or you can take out the aging process altogether. Sims die and ghost characters do exist, which gives new meaning to the “afterlife” concept.
Each Sim can retain five character traits from approximately 36 choices, which include party animal, genius, great kisser, mooch, technophobe, green thumb, and over-emotional. Detailed customizations, like eyebrow spacing, can match most player’s real appearance. The hair style choices are a bit minimal, but that can be solved with a quick download from “The Exchange” on the Sims 3 website in the accessories section. Players can’t customize their height, but can certainly adjust their weight.
Once individual Sim elements are established, players can keep their Sim busy with a maximum eight tasks at once, and exploring profession choices can make for some incredible multitasking opportunities. For example, learning guitar then playing for tips increases money and the friend list as Sim characters gather around. Item interactions now include tinkering skills which allow upgrades like self-cleaning toilets to improve Sim homelife even more.
The building aspects are strong as always, though some roofing coverage issues create a few aesthetic hiccups, which represent the only notable problem in the game, and that's a problem which can likely be fixed in an upcoming patch. Fashion fans or interior designer fanatics will love the option cascade. Players can alter color patterns inside the house plus on clothes and objects. Players can also plan three different outfits for each occasion (bedtime, formal, athletic, etc.) and purchase multiple items when shopping.
Players can achieve short and long term goals with intuitive options and actions that reduce micro management tasks. Choose from a wish list for life aspirations (e.g. news anchor, international super spy, master thief, gold digger, jack of all trades, surrounded by family, etc.) to achieve or improve skills in activity hubs like the bookcase or the home laptop computer. Character development depends on satisfying the guiding aspirations, based on each Sim’s wants. These wants can also be changed, so the game dynamics adjust to your style, not the opposite.
Besides the community elements, this game makes even more great ties into the real world with options to download your own video, pictures, and music, then incorporate them into the game. Just put .AVI format videos (maximum 128 by 128 pixels and 15 frames per second) and .MP3 files in the right folder and their ready to go.
All these elements represent a microcosm in an incredibly deep game filled with dynamic content, exciting scenarios, and, most of all, open ended opportunities that touch the special creative talent in everyone. Recent patches fixed notable, but mainly inconsequential, issues like allowing one to try for a baby with the Grim Reaper.
Players can always visit “The Exchange” for personalized content ideal for quickly filling the Sim community. Take a chance with a pre-made neighborhood and character or create your own. Get even more official content with real money ($1 equals 100 Sim points). Once players register, a new town called Riverview and 1000 Sim Points are made available to them. Players can also create special movies of their special Sim worlds or stories and post them on the Sims website for worldwide exposure.
The Collector’s Edition includes as “Plumbob” USB Drive, a mini tips/hints guide including a discount for the full version, stickers, and an exclusive bonus in-game Italian-Style Sports Car. Look for the first Sims 3 expansion, The Sims 3: World Adventures on November 16 (PC and Mac) with wireless and iPhone versions release in early 2010.
The Sims 3 is rated T (Teen) by the ESRB for crude humor, sexual themes, and violence. This game can also be found on Mac.