Monday, 27 July 2009
I’ve been playing Sims 3 for about a month now on and off. It’s surprisingly easy to loose yourself in the virtual towns of Riverview and Sunset valley, controlling the lives of Sims of your creation. You feel like Christof in the Truman Show, looking down on your little virtual town and playing out major events in your Sim’s lives. You can even leave them for a while and just watch. Sims default at a high level of free will and so can take care of themselves and their needs as well as make their own friends. All they really need is a push in the right direction in terms of career advancement and the pursuit of their lifetime wish. Other neighbours will age and die along with your Sims and after a time, new Sims will appear. It’s a living world, a test tube reality with all the variables under your control.
The major upgrade from previous versions is the ability to move freely around town and the neighbourhood. It’s a big change from being constricted to the square lot for most of your game time with long loading screens whenever you want to send your Sims out on the town. Here you feel free to send your Sims anywhere; you can have one Sim watching the sunset on the beach, another in the park, making new friends around a picnic, another at a friends house catching up on the local town gossip while you watch them, seamlessly flicking from one to the other without a loading screen in sight.
Your Sims are individuals, they have different personalities from one another which effects, among other things, how they interact with others, their fears, their actions and reactions, their skills and their careers. You can combine several personality traits from a choice of more than 60 and have a Sim who is an evil, family orientated coward with a good sense of humour who loves the outdoors… or a hot-headed, genius vegetarian who is a bit of a workaholic and hates children. You can make Sims of people you know and watch as their lives play out. A friend of mine was surprised by how close to the description of evil she really was, so we gave her Sim that trait and watched as she frequently became ‘fiendishly delighted’ at the misfortune of others.
You can design everything in your Sims lives from their clothes to their wall paper, building houses from the ground up, designing and furnishing your dream home while experimenting with architecture along the way. You are no longer constrained to maxis-created textures, you can create your own in game and share all your creations, from homes to Sims with others on the online exchange. The game definitely caters for creatives.
Overall the improvement form earlier versions is a successful one with the game play increasing massively in size with the whole town to explore. While the graphics leap might not be as big as the leap from The Sims to The Sims 2, there are still improvements. Being able to see into the distance, watch the shadows track across the floor as the sun moves across the sky and sets all add to a richer environment. It leaves plenty of room for improvement however- you still can’t see and control your Sims as they work, only the building that they work in for hours at a time. If EA made that improvement while still keeping it interesting, that would be the next step. In the mean time, the Sims still dominates the charts and is sure to please Sims-fans all around the world for a year or two while we wait for the next expansion pack instalment…