There are very few games that I’ve played that reeled me in. And there are even fewer games that made me miss both my dinner and my favourite TV show. Yes, The Sims 3 made me miss both of those things on my first day of playing it. And even after missing them, I wasn’t mad, but still continued to play it! I heard, or rather read, about The Sims in a magazine, the idea of which enthralled me. And when I got the game, I fell in love with the series. So naturally when EA announced The Sims 3, I was pretty much excited. And after having played this game for about 3 days, I feel my investment was not a total waste. The game was touted as an evolution of the Sims franchise, allowing for even more freedom and a lived in and a believable society. New features like following your Sims everywhere, customizing everything and assignments of traits to create truly unique individuals were also touted.

For the uninitiated, The Sims series is, like its fore-father, the SimCity Series, a Strategy or God playing hybrid but with a lot more focus. It’s a people simulator. But don’t let the small scale fool you, as it happens managing people can be quite bit challenging than managing a city. Like all of us, these tiny computer people, or Sims, have varying needs, habits and traits. They need to regularly clean themselves, have proper food and avoid over-eating, go to the bathroom as and when needed, hunt for jobs and maintain a social standing. And like the real world, if the Sim has a family depending on it looks after them, like paying proper attention to the wife/husband and children and fulfills their wishes. Not only that, new parents need to even wake up in the middle of the night to change Junior’s diapers! Add to that a finite lifetime, in which they can even meet untimely death, and a lot more things, and you have a quite complex and engrossing, and not to mention unique game genre. You can choose to be as generous and make a model sim, or simply play the devil and reduce your sim to a hapless loser! But beware, if you can’t manage the variable properly, both you and your sim would be ripping your hair off!

Screen 1

Screen 1

That said, the Sims 2 was the first 3D game in the series and was a huge success, spawning many expansion packs and a loyal fan-following. So, The Sims 3 had to be something better than that. Let’s see if it succeeds.

First Impressions

The first thing you notice about The Sims 3 (TS3) is the almost, if not complete, lack of loading screens. Save for the game loading screen and the save game loading screens, there is absolutely no loading screen interruptions. Maybe the lack of loading screen has become a style, as most games tout such a feature anyway. And I for one am grateful that TS3 team decided to go in with the flow in this field. The lack of loading screen really keeps the game flowing smoothly. While the predecessor had a loading screen for almost every task that involved leaving your lot’s compound, this game is seamless. Whether you want to just go Downtown to grab some grub or go for a little grocery shopping, there isn’t a single loading screen in between. You Sim just hails in a cab and you can follow the cab as it travels through the neighborhood! And if you can afford it, your Sims can drive themselves given that they have transportation medium, which ranges from Cars to even Bi-Cycles and a Sims 3 Exclusive Scooter too!

The next thing that you notice is how much cleaner the interface has become. It’s as if the game guides you in the right direction and instills a sense that you can’t go wrong. The launcher, which also doubles as a content manager auto-logs-in if you are connected. There is a big blue play symbol that starts the main game. For new games you choose a neighborhood and click the check-mark. After which you can choose to create a sim or move in into a pre-made lot. Selecting the family tells you the necessary information as well the level of difficulty. And if you already have a game saved, then the start-up interface changes to a list of the saved lots. From here you select the game you want to move in and on clicking the check mark, loads the selected game. No need for getting into the neighborhood every time and clicking on the house to load your game. And all the while, in TS3, you have these helpful pop-ups that prompts you and displays the relative Lessons, which in itself is quite vast and is kind of an in-game manual, detailing almost every aspect of the game.

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Screen 2

Create A Sim

This change seems to have crept into every nook and corner of the game. Right after you drop into Create a Sim, you’ll notice that the interface has been completely redesigned. The slider controls for the advanced tweaking like fine-tuning the sims has been condensed into an advanced setting, with the default view being a multitude of pre-made body shapes a components that you can choose. You can always opt-for a random part too, if you’re not feeling like customizing. And if you peek into the advance settings, you can see that, that too has been redesigned. The sliders are grouped into different region of the face, which can be accessed by clicking the specific dots on the face, shown under the advanced settings.

Similarly, the clothing sections have been redesigned to include Tops, Bottoms and Sets for each category, with additional accessories too. After you’ve set the cloths, but think that the shoe doesn’t exactly match, you can fire up the Create-A-Style mode, another touted feature of the game. Through this, you can absolutely mix and match any style to create that perfect blend. Want your Sims to wear a Brick patterned shirt? Why not! (No matter how weird it looks!) Just get a shirt and enter Create-A-Style and select the Brick pattern. And it doesn’t stop there; you can customize each of the style, drag it onto different object (perhaps to create that perfect camouflage) and even save them and share them on the sim community! The style itself can have multiple patterns associated and each can be differently colored, by specifying the tone and the color of it. Also for those extreme enthusiasts, there’s even the option for viewing and entering in RGB numbers too. The associated Lesson does a pretty good job in teaching the basics about it. And the best part, you can use this tool absolutely anywhere in the game, be it your furniture or even the walls. Everything can be customized.

Being done with the main sim, it’s now time for setting the characteristics of Sims. And this is where one of TS3’s main attractions comes into play: Traits. Each Sims can have up to 5 traits assigned to them from a huge pool of 63 traits. So, you can virtually make the most well natured, world-leading, Utopia-founding sim or if you’re feeling that devilish, then you can even make an Evil mad scientist! These traits cover almost all of the traits that you might think of, from Kleptomaniacs to even plain unlucky sims. These traits are not for just the cosmetics purposes, each of those traits have effect on how the sim interacts or how the game reacts. Like for example, ambitious Sims will be able to get promotions faster, being ambitious, while loner sims can stay at home and doesn’t need to socialize as often as others, and thus even work from home. After you’ve chosen your desired traits, you get a selection of career tracks’ Lifetime wish (more on this later). Next you choose your favorite music and food and color and you’re done with your sim.

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Reviews written by non-tech2 staff or User Reviews, are to be considered personal opinions based on actual experiences by users themselves. Ratings depicted are purely user based scores and are in no way a reflection on tech2’s own rating mechanism.

Tests are conducted by users and their scores are gathered through their own means with no involvement from Tech2 in any way. The article listed here can also be found on our Tech2 Forums where others like it can also be found.

Live & Buy Mode

After you’re done creating your sims, you now need to choose a house, or a lot, if you want to build a custom one. Buying a house will give you 2 options, furnished, costing a bit more and unfurnished, costing less, but coming with only the basics, in the form of the bathroom plumbing and the kitchen. But according to the manual, an unfurnished house might contain special surprises.

Going into Buy mode, will reveal a significant change, which has become one of my favourite. Although the older buy by category is present, going into Room-wise sorting will result into the puck being changed into a mini-display of a room, with a pictorial representation of the entire related thing that room might have arranged in an aesthetic way. This way it not only makes it easier to figure the required object, but also gives an idea of what should be where and helps with the aesthetics. After figuring out the basic amenities, it is off to Live Mode.

Screen 3

Screen 3

At first glance, the Live Mode interface doesn’t seem to have changed much. There is still the similar control puck, with the household sims displayed in a skewer along the left side. But inspect closely and you’ll see how much the game has changed. The first and foremost, is the complete absence of Aspirations. Aspirations in this game have been replaced by Wishes. And unlike fears or the negative aspirations, there are no negative wishes. You can click the wishes to promise them to your sims, that is move them into one of the four slots, and thus freeze it till you accomplish it, unlike the locking of Aspirations which allowed for just one constant Aspirations. It doesn’t really affect the mood meter, but does spawn a positive moodlet, that has an effect on the mood meter. Completing promises or wishes, grants you Lifetime Happiness points, which can be used to purchase various rewards like a never having to pee, or discovering sims’ traits or even a teleporter, from the tab of the same name. Unlike the aspirations, these doesn't always ramp up in difficulty, but it's simple wishes like baking some cookies or even going fishing! So, fulfilling these wishes doesn't take up much away from enjoying the game, and thus makes the game a little more easier.

Gameplay

As mentioned above, there is now a new game mechanic, which has been dubbed as moodlets. Every action as well as surroundings spawns a positive, neutral or negative moodlet that affects the mood meter. In plain RPG speak, these are modifiers of the mood meter. So, your mood meter doesn't bottoms out if one or more of your need variables fall low. Instead, that spawns a neutral moodlet that has a time limit. If you can solve it within that time, your mood meter goes back to normal. This new mechanic not only makes the game play a tad more easier, but also rewards you for doing small things like brushing your teeth and even going out on your holidays, thus in a way this mechanic simultaneously allows and motivates you to explore the world of Sims more.

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Screen 4

The next thing you’ll notice is the weeding out of unnecessary details. For example, when you start off with your sim, you don’t have access to all the skills. They are revealed as and when required. That is if you are planning on a scientific career, and never play any musical instrument, then you won’t have the related skill showing up. Also, the ones that do show up have a skill journal associated with it. This journal, details the various nitty-gritty that you’ve gone through to acquire that level. Plus, it also includes the pointers for the mastery levels of its own Opportunity.

This brings me to a major upgrade of the game. Everything in TS3 is so detailed, and I’m not talking about the graphics. For example, in The Sims 2, when you searched for a job, a pop-up would come, and if you didn’t like it, you’d need to search again, till you get the one you want. But in TS3, you just get a single dialog box, with conveniently placed arrow keys, that lets you choose whichever job you want, from that single dialog box. And it spreads to all over the game. Then there’s the social interaction. Every time you enter into an interaction, an icon shows up with a bar that starts off in the middle and increases to the right if the other sim approves your action or left if your actions are disapproving. This, quite literally, takes out the guess work out of the game. Switching to the career tab, it also details what is needed the most for your job performance and your next promotion. It’s no longer only white boxes around the skill levels and the number of friends and the mood in which you reach your job. It’s about your performance. Max it out and you get a promotion, a slack and your meter drops and when it bottoms out, you are demoted or even fired. Wherever you look there’s this helpful upgrade in-built. From time until which you’ll sleep to even the time until which you’re going to complete a task, all are represented by a progress bar in the icon.

Disclaimer

Reviews written by non-tech2 staff or User Reviews, are to be considered personal opinions based on actual experiences by users themselves. Ratings depicted are purely user based scores and are in no way a reflection on tech2’s own rating mechanism.

Tests are conducted by users and their scores are gathered through their own means with no involvement from Tech2 in any way. The article listed here can also be found on our Tech2 Forums where others like it can also be found.

Plus there are these little additions to the standard Sims life. You can now tinker around the household to upgrade the various machinery to become fire-proof or even self-cleaning. And if you have a computer, you can hack, which brings in cash, and even over clock it! Every sim now carries a cell phone, so no need for an extra phone. This phone comes equipped for checking real-estate, calling services and the likes. And oh, yeah you can take pictures with it and even set it’s ring tone!

Speaking of jobs, jobs are no longer the standard fare. While some jobs have a different path, like the law enforcement, all the jobs can be done in various ways. If you sim left with low energy, you can ask your sim to slack off. Want to build up relationship with co-workers, ask your sim to spend some time with their co-workers. You can even impress the boss by helping the boss or even plain work hard. Each of the way has different effect on your sim. So, you have to choose the one accordingly. This does make the job part of the game a lot less cosmetic and a little more interactive.

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Screen 5

This then brings me to the already mentioned Opportunities. This one, very much like the moodlets, is another new mechanic. These will pop-up from time to time given by your co-workers, known contacts or even by checking the happenings through reading newspapers and using the internet. To simple put in simple words, these can be termed as side-quests. The reward varies as well the missions. Some will have certain variables to it, while others are plain simple. You have 3 kinds of Opportunities, which can be accessed through your Opportunities tab. The puck automatically tracks your Opportunities and informs you what you need to do, without opening the tab. A simple right-click also allows you to step-down from the Opportunity and thus makes room for another. I could go on and on about the list of improvements that this game has made. But that would be too long.

Graphics

As for the graphics, TS3 has a slightly higher requirement than its predecessor. But considering the default hardware available in the market, any system can run this game pretty smooth. Also, the game does make use of the new extra resources more. The graphics are crisper, the environments are lively and looks lived in and little effects like trees swaying in the breeze and various other effects abound. Even the objects have higher quality textures. You can now make out small details on the food as well as other items in the game world. In addition to this, you can see pretty clearly the TV shows and the games being played on the computer. Not only that, the game has many nifty improvements too. Your sims shows some really cute animations and sometime even pleasantly surprises you. For example, you sims now sings songs while bathing, or hums a tune while gardening. And if you buy them a bath-tub, they’ll sometime take a dip in the water, while bathing, blowing bubbles and then coming up and start giggling. These little things form the basis of the Sims charms. Everything from the small animations of your sims jumping up and down in joy, to shaking their little fists at you, to the humorous quotes of loading screen like “Unloading Loading Screens” and even the witty descriptions of the objects, will bring a smile on your face. And before you know it, you’ll fall in love with the game.

But with all these things going on, the game does a pretty good job of keeping a steady frame-rate. The transition from the house-level to the map level, for example, is seamless and without a frame-rate hitch. Even following your sim around in through the city is smooth. And if for some reason, you still aren’t able to get decent frame-rates, you can turn off some of the details from the highly detailed options screen. From here you can even turn off things like Story progression, sim aging, placement grid etc. The story progression means that the other sim will also age like normal, get married, have children and eventually die off. The sim aging, which could be controlled in the earlier game only through a certain aspiration reward, is now directly controlled from the options. You can adjust the time it takes the sim to age, essentially determining your game’s length and difficulty, or you can simply turn off aging for a pseudo-sand-box feel. The grid placement allows the objects to snap to a grid, while on, and while off, gives you complete free-will to where you place them. In addition to this, you can now place any object diagonally by default while rotating too.

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Screen 6


Sound

The sound of TS3, however, requires a special mention. Like always, yours Sims speaks in a gibberish known as Simlish and the voice actor does a pretty good job of delivering it with charm. Even your Sim now has a voice option, in which you can choose how your sim will sound and along with the pitch of the voice. The environment also sounds great, with there being different sounds present for all the environments, from the crashing waves at the beach to the birds chirping in the park, every sound detail are covered. Not only that, the music playing on the radio are pretty good. You might even recognize some of the songs as being the simlish version of real-world songs. Along with that you have the option to listening to your songs too. The general background tracks, like its predecessors, are very catchy. While you might recognize some of the tracks from the older games, you will definitely notice the new ones. The recycling of these tracks doesn’t make this game loose its charm in any way, rather adds to it. And before you know it, you’ll be humming the tunes yourself!

Conclusion

With all these improvements, one might ask the question: What about the expansions from the previous games? Are they included? The answer to that, is a no, and a small yes. While the most obvious expansions like Pets or Seasons are missing, there are some lingering shadows of the previous expansions. For example, you can try out your entrepreneur skills, but are only limited to real-estate. You can start off with a partnership and go onto buy the entire business. You can then upgrade it, collect rent every Monday morning and even fire employees. Similarly, other inclusions of mini-games are shadows of previous expansion packs. Like the cooking skill. It’s no-longer a wide variety of cooking options. You have to learn the recipes as well as buy some, to be able to make them. Also, you just cannot order your shopping over the phone anymore. You need to go down to grocery store and shop for the ingredients for the recipes. As you improve in cooking skill, as well as prepare a food more often, you get better at that. The result of which is that although you might have to stomach burnt food at first, you get better at it, so much so that the diner’s food start to taste bad. And if you can use good quality ingredients, the quality of the food automatically increase, just like in real life. And for the Farmville fans out there, here’s a good news, Gardening features more prominently, with the ability to grow produce of varying quality and even selling them off. It’s no longer a cosmetic feature of weeding plants, full-blown gardening from tending to fertilizing to even harvesting of plants. But with these additions, there are still some glaring holes that can be felt to have been left deliberately for future expansions.

In conclusion, we come back to the main question: Does the game succeed. To that, I would like to say this: This game is what the original game should’ve been. It’s not just a sequel; it’s essentially a reboot of the franchise. With a more accessible game play, a believable society, powerful editing and creation tools, the ability to create individually unique sims, and the additions of mini-games like gardening, cooking and real-estate, the possibilities seems to be endless. Add to that the games’ habit of pleasantly surprising you now and then, and you have one perfect Sims game. So, yeah, I would recommend any Sims fans out there to go grab a copy and play this game, as well as those unsure new-comers to go ahead. But, if you are looking for immediate gratification with this game, then The Sims are not for you.

Plus, for those who register the game, they not only get community access and tech support for free, but also $10 worth of SimPoints (the online Sims Store currency) for free, in addition to a whole new town. Not only that, but you can download user-created content as well as free stuff from the store, like the Renault Concept car. All this can be done from the launcher, and after updating the game, you get an in-game browser, which entitles you special free contents too, from the official Sims team.,

The SIMS 3 is avilable for Rs. 2,499 for the PS3 and Rs. 999 for the PC edition.

Disclaimer

Reviews written by non-tech2 staff or User Reviews, are to be considered personal opinions based on actual experiences by users themselves. Ratings depicted are purely user based scores and are in no way a reflection on tech2’s own rating mechanism.

Tests are conducted by users and their scores are gathered through their own means with no involvement from Tech2 in any way. The article listed here can also be found on our Tech2 Forums where others like it can also be found.

Publish date: July 20, 2012 4:40 pm| Modified date: December 18, 2013 10:48 pm

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