The Sims 3

The Sims are back in the neighbourhood

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EA Games The Sims 3
  • EA Games The Sims 3
  • EA Games The Sims 3
  • EA Games The Sims 3

Pros

  • New real-time map, diverse personalities, high replay-value, it’s The Sims!

Cons

  • Not much new to sink your teeth into

Bottom Line

The Sims 3 is a gentle evolution of the series that retains everything fans hold dear. While the improvements on offer aren't major, they're enough to make the upgrade worthwhile. Bring on the expansion packs!

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Over the coming weeks, you may begin to hear strange, pseudo-Scandinavian chanting outside your window. You might even feel an urge to join in. Don’t be alarmed -- it’s merely the sound of thousands of celebratory gamers singing Simlish in the streets. That’s right boys ‘n’ girls; after a five-year hiatus (and a last-minute delay), the world’s best-selling computer game franchise is back in the neighbourhood.

When I first started playing The Sims 3, it was seven o'clock at night. When I next looked up from my computer to check the time, it was 7:30 - the next morning. That's when I knew that, once again, I was hooked on the Sims.

I am what I am

Longtime Sims fans will be in for a treat from the minute they boot up Sims 3. but even newcomers will find something to like; in fact, this title might be the most user friendly Sims experience thanks to some great tweaks to the interface. The character creator is easier than ever to use but it still manages to offer up a wealth of customization options. You can style your Sims any way you want, from the color of hair roots to the material of their shoes -- no detail was overlooked. The new personality system is also great, allowing you to mix and match five different traits your Sims will take on; these range from good traits like 'enthusiastic' and 'creative' to negative traits like 'kleptomaniac' and 'slob.' After molding your Sims, you are then given a few career paths or "Lifetime Wishes" that fit the mixture of traits you chose. This means that if you create a workaholic Sim, you have a shot at eventually becoming a corporate CEO; create a charismatic Sim and your career path may take you on the road to becoming a world-famous spy.

After playing dress-up, it's now time to buy a new house which you can get either furnished or unfurnished. The customization options here are even more detailed than in the character creation tools. From the carpet and walls to the refrigerator or even a telephone, you can choose the patterns, colors, fabrics, and just about everything in between. And anal-retentive fans will love this: furniture can now be placed diagonally or in half-tile increments that make it possible to center everything properly. Yes, for us true Sims fans, it's the little things that count.

Upon a star...

As Sims work toward their "Lifetime Wishes," they will have smaller wishes that they hope to fulfill along the way, such as sucking up to your boss or leveling up your guitar skills. Each time your Sim completes a wish, you are given points to spend on upgrades that make life easier. You might be able to perform better at work or make friends more easily, but more importantly, there are some rewards that will allow you to worry less about several daily maintenance needs (like the steel bladder, which cuts down on bathroom breaks), but unfortunately, not all of those needs can be turned off completely.

Sim interaction is deeper this time around, allowing for more of a personalized experience. Instead of the standard "chat" or "joke" selections, your interaction options change in real time, depending on what's currently going on in your Sims' lives. If your Sim just received a promotion or has a crush on another Sim, you can talk about those very things to others. If your Sim just read a book or watched TV, you can ask other Sims whether they liked the book or show.

All Work, All Play

Overall, The Sims 3 is definitely a huge step in the right direction with all the improvements it offers. I would've liked more of a true story mode, like we've seen in the console versions or in the Stories series. And at times, I was reverting back to the mundane "eat, sleep, work, eat, sleep, work" cycle that I thought we'd be done with by now (though this micromanaging is way more streamlined now). But The Sims 3 allows players to play the way they truly want, way more than they ever were able to do before. The Sims 3 is a must for any fan, and the new features will win over many new hearts to the Sims franchise.

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