It’s been ten years since the first Sims game surfaced on the PC, over the years spawning sequels, spin offs, and far too many expansions to list; even Ikea have had a stab at shaping a Sims household. So why has The Sims remained such a long running series, surviving the ruthless gaming world for a decade? Probably because once you’vestarted playing you can’t bloody well stop. It’s damn addictive is Sims, and with limitless play, losing yourself in the life management game is an all too realistic possibility.
While Sims has been massive for PC gaming, it’s never really cracked the console market, with constant watered down ports trying (and mostly failing) to break through over the years. Sims 3 however has attempted to bring pretty much all the features of the PC game over to the console, and has actually done a relatively good job at doing so.
If you’re a complete newbie to the Sims series, it’s essentially a virtual life simulator, but simulator doesn’t mean it’s boring, there won’t be any watching Countdown and doing the ironing here, sims can be far more entertaining than that. You can take the life of a sim any way you wish – send them towards a career as a political figure, make them lazy couch dwellers, or turn your hand to being a master criminal, the option is entirely yours. They will do most of the rudimentary stuff themselves, like going to the toilet and eating, but you can push them to do this if they start slacking on basic body care. Sims can fall in love, have babies, cheat, make friends and enemies, become master chess players and take many different career paths; they’re basically like big, complicated Tamagotchi’s that need your helping hand to make it in the world.
As mentioned before, the port has tried to keep as true as possible to the PC version, and this shines through in the display and the controls in the 360 version. Previous ports have been watered down, cutting corners and restricting players from the full Sims experience, but Sims 3 is the closest you will probably ever see a console version of Sims getting to the ‘real’ version. Explaining all the bits and bobs would push this review to game guide size, there’s simply way too much to cram in. The developers have done a tidy job of fitting everything neatly onto one screen, any extra screens or options can be reached via drop down menus so you aren’t constantly attacked by unnecessary clutter. The controls will take a bit of getting used to, but the game gives enough help and advice to get you through the early days, and once you’ve got your head around everything Sims 3 is a breeze to play.
Sims start life as a blank canvas that you can shape any way you wish. The character creator tool can do some very interesting things, and you can go into very fine details to make your sims look just how you wish, going as far as choosing different tones for different sections of a sims hair. It’s very intricate and detailed, and if you’re completely new to the series it’s best to read ALL of the instructions you are given. Skipping pages of information will only give you half the experience that Sims 3 can offer, and you’ll be missing out on stuff that will come useful later on.
You can create several sims for one household, from young children to the elderly, and you can choose different relationship statuses for these sims, so you’re free to go crazy and recreate your own group of friends or family in game. Of course, if you aren’t feeling creative, you can pick a pre-made family and go straight into the action, but half the fun is letting your imagination go wild in Sims 3.
When you’re done with creating your sims, you’re taken to a world map, where you can choose a house that best suits your sims – and your budget. You will start the game with a smallish abode, but when you start earning simoleons (the currency of the sims) you can sell up and move on to a stylish new place where your sims can really get the party started. If you fancy doing up your place, you can purchase items from the build & buy screen. Some things just improve the look of your household, such as fancy carpets and lights, but other items are far more useful, such as TVs for your sims to watch, and games consoles for them to waste their spare time on.
Many items will not only make your sims happier, but improve certain traits, like a character’s charisma or intelligence, which will in turn benefit the sim in the long run when trying out new jobs or trying to woo a partner. The amount of items seems to be lacking somewhat though, I’m sure this will be expanded on a later date, they aren’t going to miss out on the opportunity to throw more items at you for a price after all, but currently you’ll find yourself picking from a handful of each item, and it’s a shame when they could have done more to vary things. You do have the option to make your own designs for items (and clothes), and while this is a nice touch, it’s doubtful that you’ll want to spend time working on different layers of a fridge when you could be doing much more fun things.
Sims spend time doing many things, from working and socialising, to taking trips around town. You can visit these different locations with them, and if you have a handful of sims you’ll probably want to; it can be a lonely ride for the player when everyone is at work. There’s simply nothing to do, especially if all your sims are working at the same time, it’s simply a case of waiting it out. You can speed up time, but not enough to stop you staring at cars going by while you wait for the first of your sims to come home. It’s pretty annoying actually, and Sims 3 can be tedious work if you have a small household of busy sims.
Sims will tell you wishes, and it’s up to you to make these come true, or not, if you so choose so. Sometimes they will be helpful in sending your sim along a selected career path, other times it will be more to do with making your sims happy, such as by throwing a party. By completing these wishes you earn karma points, a console specific add-on that can completely change the dynamics of the game. Karma powers can be used for good, or bad, depending on which way you want to play the game out. Good karma powers include bringing dead families members back to life and instantly repairing broken items. Bad karma powers on the other hand wreak havoc for your sims, letting you trigger earthquakes or even send ghosts to haunt your sims. It’s a pretty interesting concept, and it gives you a chance to get really hands on with your sims, having a direct effect on their lives, for good or bad.
The game is a pleasure to look at. It’s beautifully presented; the typical bright and cheerful world of the sims has been brought to life on the console versions. Sims aren’t boring to look at either, they do funny little things that will always bring a smile to your face; their silly ways and expressions are undeniably cute and bring a lot of charm to Sims 3.
Although Sims 3 is extremely enjoyable, it isn’t without its problems. Loading times are atrocious, and the slowdown at times is unbearable; even when it’s switching between live play and build mode it can still take a while to take you to your destination. It may not seem a major problem now, it certainly didn’t feel like one when I heard about load times before I played the game, but the more you play, the more it really starts to bug you. You’ll notice tiny, jittery frame rate drops here and there which do nothing but dampen the overall enjoyment value that the game possesses. That being said, despite a few glitches here and there, Sims is a mostly problem free game.
The console version of Sims 3 is far from perfect, and if you want a more hands on game this certainly isn’t for you, but if you’ve ever been interested in the Sims series before, or have wondered what a good port of Sims on a console would be like this is well worth a look at. At times it’s slow and cumbersome, but Sims 3 is also fun and hugely enjoyable, and if you put the hours in early on and can overlook the excruciating loading times, there are many hours of fun to be in this exciting life management game.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary code was provided to Brash Games for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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