The Sims 3ESRB:
Platform: Xbox 360
The last Sims title I played was the original for PC with a few of the additional expansion packs. Back then I thought the title was the best, but that was before I got into console gaming and stopped playing games on my PC as much. With that in mind, I had no idea what to expect from the latest edition of the Sims franchise with The Sims 3 for the Xbox 360.
Visually the game is great to look at and I found it difficult to find too many negative aspects to the graphics. The graphics have been improved quite a bit from my original playing of The Sims, which can only be expected with the power that consoles have this generation. In essence, the creators have stayed true to the original cartoon style that The Sims has become known for as it still works really well for this title.
The graphics and camera controls work really well, as you do spend a lot of time zooming into locations to get a closer look at your Sims' actions, be they activities or interactions with others. Also, my Sim was always going in fast forward as I tend to have less patience watching them go about their lives in real time, and the graphics reflect the desired speed perfectly.
One of the aspects of the graphics that surprised me the most was the amount of options I had to customize for my Sims and their homes. There are a lot of clothing options for your Sims, however, what really impressed me was that if you can't find that piece of clothing you want, you can take something close to what you want and customize that article to exactly what you are looking for. The same goes for pieces of furniture in your home.
Don’t be concerned if you’re not feeling creative, or if you are feeling a bit lazy because you can also check out the Exchange where you can download other people’s creations and use them right on your console. This works the other way around too, so if you are the extremely creative type you can upload your own creations to share with other Sims 3 enthusiasts.
I have always wondered why my Sim never spoke a proper language and to this day it still puzzles me. As interesting as it was when the game was originally released, to hear your Sims walk around mumbling something completely incomprehensible but with excellent inflection, is now slightly annoying to my ears. When attempting to create my Sims I kept looking for a way to get them to speak English and in full sentences, sadly with no luck. All I ended up with was some kind of garbled European accent that I could frankly live without. If they could have changed one thing, this would have been my vote.
Voice work aside, the actual musical soundtrack is great. The menu music is catchy, upbeat and enjoyable to listen to. The game is also filled with your average sound effects depending on what your Sims are doing or what is happening around them. Think of the average sounds in your home and you’ll have an excellent idea of what it sounds like in the game.
The Sims has been around for 10 years and has built on that core gameplay through expansions, sequels and improvements to the gameplay. However, when you get down to it the core gameplay has been relatively the same for all games released with the Sims banner.
You start off by creating a Sim or a family of Sims using the extensive creation tools allowing you to create and customize their appearance, mannerisms, personality quirks and goals in life. After you create your Sims you act a bit like a guardian angel guiding your wards through everyday life by helping them achieve typical goals such as getting a girlfriend, having children, finding employment, recreation, personal goals and just about anything else you expect to accomplish in life.
The next thing you have to do is find a home for your Sim with some inheritance that you luckily start off with. I remember one of the most annoying things from the original Sims was furnishing my home. I didn’t mind building the layout of the house along with what it would look like cosmetically, but going through the tedious lists of furniture made some of my Sims game time a bit more annoying than usual. However, with the Sims 3 I was happy that I could buy my homes furnished and not have to worry about the initial set up and could jump right into the game.
One aspect I was most worried about when thinking of the original title on PC and moving over to the console version was how the controls would work and if the gameplay transition would seem seamless. After playing for a short time I found it worked well and only takes a bit of time to get used to; however I imagine the controls are still even better on the PC. Having hot keys to quickly move from Sim to Sim is useful and natural feeling but object placement tools make the controls bearable.
After you have your Sims created and your home set up for living you are ready to live out the rest of your Sim(s) life. This involves guiding them through their lives to achieve personal and life goals which is done by socializing with other Sims, training skills and through careers. This is not new to the game and once again the gameplay is relatively the same as previous editions of the Sims. However, when you begin the game you get to choose Lifetime Wishes that your Sim can complete in life, wishes such as: Becoming an Astronaut, Chess Legend, Home Design Hotshot, Rock Star and Illustrious Author. Completing these wishes will earn you Lifetime Happiness Points, which can be used to purchase Lifetime Awards. Karma Points are also earned for achieving these wishes.
Speaking of Karma, a new aspect of the game I noticed is Karma Powers. Karma Powers can either have a positive effect like Super Satisfy, which maximizes all of your Sims' needs, or negative effects like Epic Fail, which as the name dictates makes your life a failure in all aspects, such as your love life, career and even cleaning your home. Karma Points are what fuels your Karma Powers so it is important that you complete your Lifetime Wishes to earn points and keep an eye out for special tasks as well to earn yourself more Karma Points.
Another new portion to the game is Opportunities, which are random opportunities based on parts of each Sim’s life (jobs, skills and relationships) that can be completed for rewards. Work some overtime to get that pay raise, or do some tasks to build an even better relationship. Skills you have learned can help you get some opportunities by helping people in your neighborhood solve problems for cash or relationship rewards.
The new additions to the game are the only aspects of the gameplay that have really changed in my eyes and in the end they are not that much of a game changer, just more of an addition to the game. Sometimes it is good to keep to what works, but sometimes what works really doesn't need a sequel.
Continue to Page 2