The Sims 3 PC DVD
Published by: Electronic Arts
Developed by: Electronic Arts
As far as anticipated sequels go, you won't get any more hotly anticipated than The Sims 3. The series that puts you in charge of a virtual neighbourhood is back and arguably more impressive than ever. There's more to do and more to keep you occupied for hours on end. The Sims have more depth and personality than in any of the previous games and on the whole it feels like it has more focus and yet it's also a game that is about as open-ended as it could be.
The Sims 3 offers some major changes that really manage to improve the experience. Perhaps the biggest difference this time however is that you aren't subjected to loading screens when your Sims travel around town. You can simply walk right over to a neighbour's house or take a taxi to anywhere on the map and watch your Sim make the journey. This is a much better way of going about things as you're never taken out of the experience to look at a loading screen for thirty seconds or so, which all helps to make you feel like you're watching a virtual community instead of playing in isolated locations that don't appear to be connected to the rest of the game world.
Sims have a handful of traits which help to make them unique personalities. You'll get to choose the traits for the Sims you create but every Sim in the game has their own traits and it's one of the nice touches in the game that you have to reveal the traits of the other Sims through the actions your Sim takes. Sims still have to learn a variety of skills but in The Sims 3 there are more ways than ever for your Sim to develop. They can purchase books to help them study for a skill, they can increase skills by carrying out certain actions and they can even attend classes. Each Sim still has some basic needs to look after but they don't feel so much of chore this time around. In fact you can even make some of these needs even less of a problem if you have enough Lifetime Happiness points (by fulfilling your Sim's wishes and lifetime goals) to purchase the appropriate Lifetime Rewards. Allowing your Sim to do the things they like will improve their mood. As you'd expect, it pays to avoid allowing your Sim to be in a bad mood when at all possible.
There is a high level of customisation in The Sims 3 and this fact hits you as soon as you begin to create your first character. We've already mention the traits you get to choose for your Sim and there are over sixty of these to choose from to truly make your Sim exactly how you want them to be. As with previous games in the series you can adjust the look of your Sim to pretty much anything you want. This time however, you don't have to make do with the clothes that are on offer as you can change the colours, patterns and textures to give your Sim a truly unique look. Creating your Sim's home is just as addictive as it always been and the tools that allow you to do this are more in-depth than ever. One of the little touches that I really found useful in the game is the ability to move into a house furnished or unfurnished and that when you purchase items it gives you feedback on whether you're improving the value of your Sim's home.
Despite The Sims 3 being a great game there are some areas of the game that could have been better. Whilst it's good that you'll see your Sim go to work, it's a shame that you can't actually see them at work. Your Sim will simply enter their place of work and disappear until their shift is complete. The same thing also occurs when your Sim attends one of the various lessons on offer. There are no pets in the game but I daresay one of the many expansions packs that are planned for the game will bring them back. In fact quite a lot of features and content that expansions packs for The Sims 2 added aren't to be found in The Sims 3. Some will also resent having to pay for additional items. It should be noted however that the game comes with approximately £6 worth of credit to spend in The Sims 3 online shop and that you don't need to purchase any additional content if you don't want to. In fact there is quite a lot of content included in the game and you can even download a free town (the game comes with one town to begin with) if you wish. Pathfinding issues are present and whilst your Sims will generally move from point A to B in a no fuss manner, there are times when they seem to take the most awkward of routes.
I have a confession to make. When I saw the first screenshots for The Sims 3 I was disappointed. Somehow it seemed as though the game hadn't improved much at all. Having played the game for well over a week however, I have to say it's noticeably better, less cartoon-like and doesn't appear to have half of the performance issues that The Sims 2 had. The game may not be the graphical leap forward that many would have hoped for but it certainly looks good enough and as we've already mentioned, you don't have to endure those tedious loading times as in previous games.
The Sims has always been a series that's been fairly kind to deaf gamers and The Sims 3 is no exception to this trend. The game uses icons to give you the gist of what the Sims' garbled conversations are about. Meters appear above a Sim's head when they are developing a skill so you can see how your Sim is progressing. Objects that play music give off musical note icons as well as visual depictions of the sound waves. The game uses a wide assortment of icons to relay information that helps you to be aware of your Sim's needs. All tutorial messages are in text and all other important information is shown visually. There is a minor problem however. Whilst objects such as the telephone in your home give off icons to indicate they are ringing, you'll only be aware of this if the objects are in view. If you're on a different floor or out of sight from the object that's making the noise, you won't be aware of it.
The Sims 3 is a great sequel that will not only please fans of the immensely popular series but should also attract a whole new legion of fans for the series. The game offers some major improvements and a multitude of subtle tweaks that really help to make the game more enjoyable and more addictive than any previous game in the series. Yes it's pretty apparent that expansion packs will be released to add various things back into the game such as pets and seasonal weather and some will be disappointed by this but it was to be expected. The complaints are few and far between however and this is easily the most impressive game in the series so far.