The Sims 3 Xbox 360
Published by: Electronic Arts
Developed by: The Sims Studio
The PC version of The Sims 3 is a great game but I don’t think there’s any getting away from the fact that you need a powerful PC to avoid performance issues. In this age of laptops and netbooks many people don’t have PC’s that are powerful enough to run games such as The Sims 3 but quite a lot of people have consoles so it makes a lot of sense to bring one of the most popular gaming series of all time to the latest consoles out there. In many respects I’ve been impressed with The Sims 3 for the Xbox 360. Yes there have been some compromises but most of The Sims 3 experience is intact and the game is just as capable of taking hours of your spare time as if they were minutes.
The Sims experience is still pretty much the same as it’s always been only it’s richer than on any of the previous console versions. The Sims 3 gives you the opportunity to create anything from an individual Sim to a whole family and watch them make their way through the various stages of life. The opportunities for having a profession and a wild social life are all here. Of course you might want to create Sims that are completely crazy and destructive to others and themselves if you wish to do so. The game is a virtual life sandbox that allows you to shape the destiny of your Sims as you see fit and have a lot of fun in the process.
What’s really surprising is how much of The Sims 3 experience from the PC version has been retained in the Xbox 360 version of the game. The ability to create custom textures for your Sim’s clothes and shoes, for example, has been retained. In fact the mass of customisation you could do in the PC version has managed to find its way into the 360 version and that’s very impressive. You can also download the custom creations of others and also upload your custom content to allow others to benefit from it. Custom content that can be shared are Sims, accessories, clothing, households, lots, objects and patterns. This is a wonderful addition to the game and should ensure players have a plentiful supply of additional content at no cost. The game also has an in-game store to purchase additional content from but at the time of writing there is no content for sale.
As I mentioned earlier in the review, there have been some compromises made in the Xbox 360 version of The Sims 3. You’ll notice when visiting public lots that there aren’t as many Sims walking around as there are in the PC version, probably for performance reasons. Probably the most noticeable compromise is that you can’t create multiple families in the same neighbourhood in the same way that you can in the PC version. If you want to create another family, you’ll have to create a whole new neighbourhood, which is essentially just a reset version of the only included neighbourhood, which does seem strange.
What you won’t find in the PC version are the Karma Powers that have been included in the console versions. You’ll need to earn karma points by fulfilling the wishes of your characters in addition to receiving a varying amount of karma points at midnight. Some Karma Powers are initially unlocked and you’ll have to complete challenges and purchase these from the reward shop in order to be able to use them. Actually it’s worth mentioning that in the Challenge Shop you can purchase, in addition to new Karma Powers, various outfits and all kinds of items ranging from the wacky such as a food replicator to the aesthetic such as lawn decorations. You can cause mischief with Karma Powers and you can even bring back a dead family member if you choose to do so. Using Karma Powers too much will affect the cosmos and significantly reduce the amount of karma points you receive so it’s best to use these powers judiciously.
Graphically speaking, The Sims 3 looks absolutely fine and this is without a doubt the best looking console version of The Sims to date. If you’ve played any of the previous versions of The Sims on a console you’ll know that load times can be a real problem. In some cases we were talking about minutes rather than seconds (particularly on the PlayStation 2 versions). I decided to install The Sims 3 to the Xbox 360’s hard drive and what I found was that you’re still going to see a fair amount of load screens but most of them only are only present for a few seconds meaning it doesn’t break up the flow of the game too much. The game’s frame rate can drop a little at times, particularly when speeding up time, but it’s never problematic and never gets in the way of the overall experience.
Like the series in general, The Sims 3 is absolutely fine for deaf gamers. All tutorial messages are in text and should you ever want further information on any aspect of the game you can pause the action by pressing the start button and access a wide variety of lessons that use a mixture of screenshots and text. Icons give you the gist of what the Sims’ conversations are all about as their speech is the usual gibberish that can be found in all of The Sims games. All objectives and challenge details are given in text so you’re always aware of what needs to be done to earn rewards for your Sim. Meters show you the progress that is being made when Sims are carrying out activities that will improve one of their various attributes. Audio appliances give off musical note icons when playing music. The game uses a wide assortment of icons to relay information that helps you to be aware of your Sim's needs and these are all immensely useful. In short there aren’t any real problems for deaf gamers with The Sims 3.
Earlier console versions of The Sims just didn’t manage to capture the feel of the PC versions but The Sims 3 does succeed on providing a fully-fledged and satisfying Sims experience and as a result will be appreciated by every fan of the series that hasn’t been able to experience the PC version for one reason or another. Compromises have been made but on the whole they aren’t too harmful to the game and in fairness quite a lot of the experience from the PC version of The Sims 3 is retained which in itself is hugely impressive.