Back in 2000 I was addicted to _The Sims_, buying every expansion pack that came out, getting super hyped about the new downtown and vacation areas that were added and generally loving every new addition that the developers Maxis made. But one morning, after months of this obsession, I woke up and thought “what the hell am I doing?”, wasting my youth watching computer people fall in love and interact with each other when I should be outside interacting with real people myself. And that’s when it hit me, _The Sims_ wasn’t so much a game but more of toy; there were no goals or objectives, you just messed around with what you were given.
I skipped _The Sims 2_ thinking that it would simply be more of the same but with better graphics. It may have been much, much more but, still to this day, I have never played it. After an 8 year break from any Sim’s related activity I decided it would be a good time to try again; with a long list of new features and even more interactivity between characters, _The Sims 3_ seemed worth a try.
The first thing to say is that this is very much the same game at its core, although changes have been made, the experience is essentially the same. By interacting with different characters you build up relationships that can lead to whatever you like, you can get a multitude of different jobs and you acquire money that can be spent on building your home or adding news items, ranging from TVs to swimming pools. Therefore, if you’re a fan of the previous games in the franchise it’s safe to say that you’ll enjoy this third edition (to be honest, you’ve probably already bought it).
But does _The Sims 3_ offer anything new to people like me who have got bored with the previous offerings? To a certain extent it does; the game now incorporates a lot more goal orientated elements which makes it feel like you’re actually accomplishing something while playing. For example, when you first start the game, you’re asked to give your sim a “lifetime wish” while in the customisation screen. This is something for it to strive for over the course of its life, be it becoming a rock star or famous author, and is dependent on the “traits” you’ve also chosen for it, another new addition. These define what sort of person they are, such as athletic or a party animal as well as more interesting additions such as a loner; why you’d actually want your sim to be a loner is beyond me, maybe so you can connect, on a personal level, with your AI friend…
Throughout playing the game you can develop skills which, once completed, add to your lifetime happiness while at the same time rewarding you points which can be redeemed against lifetime rewards. Along with this new goal orientated direction, the game’s core elements have also been modified and improved: the social interaction mechanic is far more comprehensive, allowing your sim to do pretty much anything you like; the character customisation has been expanded to include a disturbing amount of detail; and everything that can be purchased is now represented pictorially and subcategorised, making it much easier to find what you want. The sims even age now!
Another notable change is that you can walk down the street; your house and the other areas that your sim can visit are no longer separate but part of a continuous overworld. This means you can buy a car and drive it around town as well as numerous other additions that make the game a much more comprehensive simulation package.
Overall, all of these additions mean that the game has a lot more to offer than in its earlier incarnations including a basic level of progression as you continue to play. Although _The Sims 3_ is definitely now a game and not the pointless time-sink like the original, it still has some issues. Most notable of which is the technical requirements needed to play the game. If you have a relatively recent PC you’ll be fine but anything slightly older and you’ll start to run into issues, for example my girlfriend, who wouldn’t mind playing _The Sims 3_, has a 3 year old laptop that doesn’t have a hope in hell of being able to play it. It just seems odd that EA would make a game that’s marketed to the masses have such a high barrier of entry.
The second problem is that its feels like features have been left out of the game so that they can be sold later in expansion packs; Pets (which were added in _The Sims 2_) aren’t in the game at all and there’s no holiday locations either, added in both _The Sims_ and _The Sims 2_ through expansion packs. The core game does have a lot to offer but it is annoying knowing that to get complete _Sims 3_ experience I’ll have to pay a lot more money before I’m done (I’m pretty sure I won’t, by the way).
_The Sims 3_ is worth getting if you’ve enjoyed the previous games, there’s enough new content and gameplay changes for it to be worth a purchase and even if you’re not too keen on the franchise’s previous outings, _The Sims 3_ is different enough to warrant another go. But if you’re like me and don’t see the appeal in life simulation games at all anymore then _The Sims 3_ probably won’t make you change your mind. In the end, _The Sims 3_ is still _The Sims_ at heart and if you don’t like _The Sims_ you probably won’t like this.