WARNING: This game is a severe hazard to the player’s ability to concentrate or care about any important work that the player may have to do instead of playing computer games.
The Sims 3 rocked up over 180,000 illegal downloads in the days before its release here in Australia on the 4th of June. It has reportedly cost EA over $9 million USD in lost sales. Read on for a review of the game:
The hype has been building amongst the gamers for over a year. First, they told us in 2007/2008 that there would be a new Sims base game – Sims 3. EA then announced that it would be 3D and then they astounded us all by breaking with the usual gameplay structure and telling fans that they would finally be able to take their Sims out of their lots and follow them to work.
Sims 1 and 2 boxed the players into having to control their Sims while they were on a lot – either one at home or one out in the community. Inbetween the lots, while the Sim was supposedly travelling to and from these said lots was a blue screen of a different variety than what most computer users are usually faced with. But like that first blue screen of death, the Sims 1 & 2 loading screens were annoying. Follow your Sim to work instead of merely saying bye to them when the carpool turned up? Fans loved it.
February 2009 was slated as the date. Then it got closer to February and for some bizarre reason EA pushed back the release date till early June in favour of a 12 week long Sim camp in California that allowed EA registered Sims 2 fans who frequented the online forums and website to get a trial shot at using Sims 3. The handpicked fans got to compete with each other to see who could create the best Sims, houses, furniture, clothes and so on within the game. The best got shipped with it when released.
Sims 2 saw a lot of fan sites spring up around the web offering downloads of custom made meshes and clothing and furniture for the game – most fans not being happy with Maxis’ apparently very out of touch sense of what was fashionable. Some sites violated the terms of agreement, soliciting payment for their downloads, others asking for donations towards hosting costs only though most were free. In Sims 3, that changes.
Sims 3 allows you to pick clothing or furniture or building items and to customise textures, colours and patterns in game. Which means my Sim on a budget does not have to save up to buy a leather couch – she buys a cheap one and then uses the in game customisation to pick one out of several leather swatches and the colour she wants.
The same applies to clothing. Instant leather jackets abound as do trenchcoats. What you cannot change in game is the actual design. This of course provides some potential for all those who became expert mesh creators with the Sims 2 game to start recreating designs.
Requirements & Loading Speed:
The game itself: Sims 2 took forever to load. On a Dell XPS M1330. Forever. The expectation was that the Sims 3 would take even longer. It does require the following: Vista or XP as an OS; it requires a 2.0 GHz CPU; 1 GB RAM for XP and 1.5 GB for Vista; 6.1 GB hard drive space and 1 GB for saved games/custom content and 128 MB video card. It runs like a dream.
What happened? Why does it run faster than Sims 2 ever did? My suspiscion is that it has to do with the complete restructuring of the game.
Key: 😀 = Oh hell yes! 🙂 = Love it! 😐 = Have no opinion. 🙁 = Ugghh…why???
What It Actually Is Like:
- No loading screens apart from the start of the game and when you save it. 😀
- You start out and pick a town. When you save a game, you save that town and any characters in it that you have created or played. 😐
- Because everything is seamless there aren’t any loading screens, and though other characters may seem random, after playing the same town twice, you notice that quite a few things aren’t – at least not at the start. Things are programmed with the other characters – your character is the random element here and until you have played for quite a bit, your character’s actions will not affect the rest of town considerably. 😀
- Customisation in game means no loading of all the custom content that you have downloaded. Instead of having everything available and using maybe only 10% of it, the game now only has the custom content you fully customised and saved. Instead of downloading several different leather jackets for your character in Sims 2 before picking the one that looked best on them but keeping the others loaded, you now only play with the one perfect one that you created in game. The 10% that you use is actually the 10% that’s loaded. Given that I have 1 GB of custom content for Sims 2, that’s huge. 😀
- Everything is more organised which is a blessing. One of the best things is that there is no longer all the nonsense about hugging a best friend and moving the relationship from the platonic to romantic just because you hit above 70 points with that character. Now interactions are organised into categories which also means that you no longer have to guess at what the outcomes might be of some of the actions that have weird names. Case in point? Sims 2 had an action (after an Expansion Pack) that was under “Kiss … Dance”. Sims 3 has actions organised into Flirty/Friendly/Special (depending on your character traits)/Mean/Romantic/Family. No more awkward best friend action. 😀
- Skills have been revamped -yes. No longer is there this very odd link between your gardening/nature interests and your love of cleaning. No one ever saw the logic in that in Sims 2: what, if you cleaned really well, you cleaned up pollution and saved the environment? There are no badges either. Sims 3 has skills – writing, culinary, gardening, logic, handiness/tinkering, music, art and so on. You can raise your skill level by reading certain books (all genres are represented with kookier titles) or by using objects or by … *drum roll* taking classes in the town at various locations. If you check the paper, everyday a certain kind of class is offered at a discount rate and there are all sorts of neighbourhood events that you can attend and win prizes at if you are good at a particular skill. 🙂
- Wishes: Sims 2 had Wants/Fears, Sims 3 has wishes. Wishes pop up and you choose to “promise” your Sim a wish (you get a max of four at any time). As you fulfill these wishes, you gain points which are Lifetime Happiness Points and these can be exchanged after reaching 5000 for all sorts of benefits/objects/traits. There is a Lifetime Wish and some of your wishes directly relate to it, giving you more points when you fulfill them and getting you closer to acheiving the Lifetime Wish. In terms of aspirations, that’s it. 🙂
- Traits: No more dodgy zodiac signs. The Sims 3 personality is determined by the five different traits you pick for your Sim (you can randomize them too). The traits then combine to give you five different options of what you Sim could have as a Lifetime Wish. You also get to pick favourite foods (when they eat them, they get a boost), favourite colours and favourite music. The traits you give your Sim give them benefits in using their skills. Giving someone the Bookworm trait allows them to read faster and learn faster than others and also allows them a higher writing skill, maknig them more likely to write novels and talk about books. This is where the Special set of interactions on the pie menu comes in as well – the interactions under this are dependent on your Sims’ traits. 🙂
- Friends: Making friends in this game is harder than in Sims 2 though keeping those friendships once you have made them seems easier. Since Sims have a) five traits b) three favourites c) a job d) a partner, your Sim has the fun bit of trying to get to know all this about each Sim they meet and when they mouseover their picture in the relationships panel they can see how much they know about each person. Sims also now have the ability to make friends with their coworkers. 🙂
- Work: You can get a job via the computer, the paper or by going to the place of work itself. Work locations don’t allow you inside while the Sim works but you can choose how they work – you can set them to work hard, gossip with co workers, work with their boss, develop a related skill or goof off. This in turn affects their work performance and their mood – working too hard all day will stress them out, which means you then have to budget time to have sufficient fun to work it off. Going to work in a bad mood affects your performance. You also get a little tab stating your work history – sort of a Sims resume. 🙂
- Moodlets. The overall mood still goes from green to red. Little moodlets pop up to tell you about how your recent actions have affected the overall mood. Didn’t sleep enough? For the next few hours, your mood will decrease by 15. Brushed your teeth? For four hours you will feel minty fresh. Needs also affect mood and the moodlets but are now consistent of Hunger, Bladder, Hygiene, Social, Fun & Energy. Comfort and Environment are still around but as specific moodlets instead such as trashcans when something in the room needs to be cleaned or being comfortable when sitting down somewhere. 😐
- Opportunities: No more chance cards! Opportunities turn up everywhere whether you are working or not – fulltime or part time. You can take advantage of them and see how they turn out, equally you can cancel them. From time to time you will be asked to make a decision or do something or go somewhere. 🙂
- Skill Journal: Your skills have benefits and specific challenges that you can aim for and complete if you want to. 🙂
- Photos: You can take videos and photos. Sims can take photos of their surroundings with their cell phone (every Sim has a cell phone automatically) and then hang the photos on their walls. Photos taken in game don’t have a specific photo album section which kind of leaves the storytelling part a bit hanging – not all of us want to make videos. 🙁
- Transport: Taxis around town seem free. You can run or walk. You can also buy a bike and a bike rack or get a driveway and a car. 🙂
- Community Lots: Some you can enter 🙂 , some you can’t though 🙁 you can control what happens in there somewhat. New locations: Beaches, parks, movie theatres, cemeteries, science labs, business centres, bookshops, bistros, grocery stores, diners … the list goes on. The only one I have not seen yet is a nightclub though quite likely that will be included in one of the first expansion packs along with a dancing skill.
- You can fish, garden and generally interact with your environment. You can collect things such as rocks and find gems and get them cut. You can find seeds to start your own garden for free. 🙂
- Food in the fridge can go bad so be sure to clean it out. You have to buy food from the store or get it from the garden. No online ordering. 😐
- Maids cost $124 per day so watch it. 🙁 Adoption and anything that’s based in local government as a public service is free. 🙂
- The cheat code for more money is “Kaching” after pressing Ctrl+Shift+C though once you type help you will see that there aren’t many cheat codes available. 😀 If anyone tries the boolprop code and gets something let me know.
- Ghosts look much much cooler. And yes, you can get pregnant and you can age and have birthdays. You have to now be careful about having a good pregnancy though so your baby is born well (basically this means the difference between having a randomised trait added to your sim or you getting to choose it yourself). Sims add a trait per life stage. Good life stages = you choosing these traits. Traits and genetics both get passed down. 🙂
Other than the various bits and pieces mentioned in all the marketing (customisation, neighbourhood exploration, placing things at an angle etc.), that’s about all I have noticed so far.
The thing is the CAS (Create-A-Sim) section is so finicky and tweaky that you spend hours literally working on one Sim. 😀 If you can’t wait to immerse yourself in the game, pick a ready made Sim and jump in. Hours later you still won’t have explored all the possibilities.:D
Overall, I am thrilled that EA redesigned the game and the gameplay structure. Sims 3 is way more sandbox oriented than the Sims 2 ever was and that makes it more fun to play for longer. It’s easy on the computer and on the eyes (though for some reason all Sims 3 characters still look like they have a Maxis hangover, bloated cheeks and weird proportions and all).
Buy this game. You will love it. Sandboxes rule.
*pics to follow soon*
– Marisa Wikramanayake