The Sims 3 Review

By Scott Alan Marriott - Posted Jun 17, 2009

In addition to the revamped presentation that retains the same sense of whimsy and charm as in previous games, improved social interactions make life as a Sim worth living. While most of your time was likely spent in a relatively small area in Sims 2 thanks to some egregious travel loading times and little payoff for a lot of hassle, Sims 3 will broaden your Sim's horizons.

The Pros
  • Funny personality traits
  • Open neighborhoods
  • High replay value
  • Create and exchange patterns, objects, lots, and Sims
The Cons
  • Missing content from Sims 2 expansions
  • No groundbreaking changes to gameplay
  • Pricey items and sets sold via SimPoints

The Sims 3Try to explain the Sims to someone who's never played it and you're likely to be met with the same incredulous expression: a raised eyebrow, a disdainful shaking of the head, or a blank stare. This is followed by some variant of "more work than fun." Truth is, mopping up floors, cleaning toilets, and taking out the trash aren't exactly the stuff dreams are made of. On a basic level, play is akin to setting up an aquarium, picking decorations, introducing some fish, and watching them blow bubbles. If you aren't a tinkerer at heart, you probably aren't a fan of the series. The Sims 3 doesn't try to convert the non-faithful, opting to polish and streamline 1995's Sims 2 instead of moving the virtual life genre significantly forward. It's more a nudge than a push.

Going to Town


Yet Sims 3 is hardly a disappointment. In addition to the revamped presentation that retains the same sense of whimsy and charm as in previous games, improved social interactions make life as a Sim worth living. While most of your time was likely spent in a relatively small area in Sims 2 thanks to some egregious travel loading times and little payoff for a lot of hassle, Sims 3 will broaden your Sim's horizons.

Your Sim now has a cell phone for his or her unintelligible conversations, so you are no longer tethered to your home. You can purchase a vehicle to reach your destination, hail a cab, and carpool to work. The wide open town, easily viewed from an overhead map, allows you the freedom to explore and travel without so much as a hiccup. Within your quaint community (either Sunset Valley or the downloadable Riverview) you'll see Sim friends and Sim neighbors independently going about their daily routines, raising families, building careers, throwing parties, and growing older...if you want them to, that is.

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Life Goes On

The Sims 3The core gameplay that made the first two entries among the best-selling computer titles of all time hasn't changed drastically. You still have five basic needs to care for (bladder, hunger, social, hygiene, and fun), but you don't have to micromanage them. One of several gameplay sliders allows Sims to take care of their immediate needs on their own, so you can focus your attention on something more interesting than clicking on the toilet, like figuring out how to get rid of a ghost. There is also a surprising number of role-playing like elements designed to keep you glued to your monitor.

Your Sim can have up to five traits out of a pool of 63, so you can be anything from an evil kleptomaniac who likes the outdoors, to a good, never nude Sim who can't stand art. There are skills, such as cooking or logic that you can improve through daily practice, reading books, or by taking classes. Wishes, such as getting a raise or, if you're evil, stealing candy from a baby, are influenced by your traits and periodically appear like quests. Moodlets are temporary boosts or penalties to your disposition, similar to buffs and debuffs.  Your lifetime happiness is essentially comprised of experience points. There is constant feedback on everything you do or don't do, which is one reason why the game manages to be so addictive.

Happy Accidents


The Sims 3Another is the unpredictability of events, leading to some amusing situations. Watch an evil scientist burst into your abode and use a high-tech contraption to "absorb" one of your prized possessions. Witness a green gas trail behind your unkempt character as pedestrians cover their noses or mouths and run away in disgust. Take a few laps in the athletic center's pool to lose some weight, splash others, or challenge someone to an underwater breathing contest. Win said contest and receive an adrenaline rush moodlet, making your character sprint everywhere with newfound vigor. It's too easy to keep your mood at a high rate, especially when sitting in a comfy chair balances out, say, being robbed by an evil scientist, but that oddly doesn't detract from the experience. There's so much to try, to collect, to tinker with.
Sim-sational?

The intriguing possibilities means Sims 3 is one of the most playable games you'll likely own on your computer -- if creating neighborhoods and watching virtual soap operas are the sort of things that interest you. The main drawback, of course, is the omission of key features found in the Sims 2 expansions over the years. You can have day and night cycles, but not seasons or weather. You can have a fish, but not a dog, cat, or bird. You can go to the library, but not attend a university. See a trend? This content will certainly be reintroduced over time, for a price, through either the Sims store or as part of separate expansions. If you can live with this, and aren't expecting a completely different take on the series, then Sims 3 is money well spent. It's sunny, silly, and sweet. It's just not quite everything it could have been.