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Gamertell Review: The Sims 3 for PC and Mac

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The Sims 3

Title: The Sims 3
Price: $49.99
System(s): PC and Mac
Release Date: June 2, 2009
Publisher (Developer): Electronic Arts (EA Redwood Shores)
ESRB Rating: “Teen” for Crude Humor, Sexual Themes and Violence
Pros: Fulfilling a “need” gives a quick mood boost, you have a screen in the menu that tells you what’s helping or hurting a sims’ mood, complete control over a sim’s appearance and the appearance of furniture, can visit other locations without any loading, some new activities added, skills and jobs can unlock new abilities, young adult is an official age group, improved graphics, more personality options, can take classes to boost skills, can pick wants, brief loading times, can earn new traits with Lifetime Rewards and you don’t need an expansion pack for cars and bikes.
Cons: Quite a few glitches and bugs in the works, you can only build on Maxis established lots, no more memories, can’t see stats in the map view, user created sims can disappear, difficult to place some furniture items, can’t create a custom town (yet), no gardener NPC, when you go to a community lot to shop you don’t get to go inside or look inside buildings, groceries must be purchased from a store, camera is frustrating and ultraspeed isn’t ultra-speedy.
Overall Score: One thumb up, one sideways; 80/100; B-; * * * out of 5

I was going to resist The Sims 3. After all, I have a complete The Sims 2 running on my laptop, complete with every single expansion pack and a robust assortment of user-created original content. Besides, $49.99’s a lot of money and I’ve been cutting back.

Then, when visiting a Goodwill Store, I saw it. A copy of The Sims 3 for only $9.99. I took it as a sign that I was meant to play the game, and immediately purchased it.

Now, after a substantial amount of time spent playing it, I’m glad I didn’t pay full price. It’s a good game, yes, but not what I expected The Sims 3 to be.

The Sims 3

Try not to make comparisons.

As you can see from the rather robust Pros and Cons section above, The Sims 3 departs quite a bit from The Sims and The Sims 2. You get one neighborhood. In that neighborhood, you pick one family to play as. Ideally, you should be able to pick more, but a glitch/bug is preventing the Story Mode toggle from turning off, so your other families could change or disappear if you try to manage more than one at a time. As usual, you get ultimate control over your characters’ lives.

You pick either an EA created house or lot and move the family in. You guide them through their lives, furnishing their homes, finding them jobs, forcing them to learn essential life skills and such. This time, life is focused more on the present and future than the past, as the memory feature from The Sims 2 is gone and you can’t work out massive storylines and epic dynasties due to the fact that other families you create could abruptly change or disappear from the game.

The Sims 3 is quite a bit more complicated when it comes to controls than The Sims 2. Even though The Sims franchise has always been very much a “pick up and play” affair, it seems The Sims 3 was designed with intermediate and advanced gamers in mind. Perhaps EA felt The Sims 2 users would be graduating and expecting more. For example, after starting one family in a neighbor, it’s quite an affair to create a new family, then switch over to play that family. Plus, your original family may have moved for changed while you were gone.

The neighborhood function’s interesting, but a tad lacking.

One of the lauded features of The Sims 3 is the ability to instantly travel throughout the town without any kind of loading screens. While it is a wonderful step forward, being able to instantly explore anywhere you please, it comes with some disappointments.

First, the EA created lots aren’t all that descriptive. There are your neighborhood essentials – a grocery store, some restaurants, a bookstore and a gym. These are each represented by little icons that show you can make purchases or workout there. Pretty much everything else has a bench. If you hover over, a brief description will show up, but it usually won’t provide too much detail as to what’s at that location.

Sadly, you can’t completely explore all these locations. In The Sims 2, you could enter and explore every building. In The Sims 3, some of these buildings are just large, decorative objects. Clicking on them will allow your sim characters to temporarily vanish inside, accomplish some hidden purpose, then re-emerge a few sim hours later. Even getting a good view of the areas you can explore is difficult, as the camera has fixed intervals, positioning and zoom points that make it difficult to get a decent view or even take pictures.

The Sims 3

Glitches I’ve encountered

  • The game has frozen twice, both times in live mode while attempting some sort of party.
  • The carpool always comes, even if I have a car or bike.
  • A child disappeared from a family I created, even though I had aging and story modes off.
  • A sim refused to ride in the car, even if I clicked on it, if there was a bike on the lot.
  • The Pizza Delivery Man will leave pizzas that never spoil on my sims porch, as long as I don’t accept them.
  • Ultra-speed isn’t as fast as it should be.

Not quite what The Sims 2 players expected.

I was disappointed in The Sims 3. It’s a good game, but I’m not quite sure I’d say it’s better than its predecessor. When I purchased The Sims 2, it was able to do everything The Sims could do and more, making the previous game obsolete and The Sims 2 the only game I needed to have on my computer. I was hoping The Sims 3 would do the same thing. It doesn’t. While the focus of The Sims 2 seemed to be the management and creation of entire towns and all the families who lived there, the focus of The Sims 3 is on single households. It isn’t bad, it’s just different and not what many expected.

As long as you’re willing to take your time and adjust to the game, you’ll come to appreciate it for what it is, rather than what it isn’t. Rather than being an upgrade and replacement for The Sims 2, The Sims 3 is more of a compliment. If you’re fine with focusing on the adventures of single sims or designing new lots, then you’ll absolutely adore The Sims 3. You can do so much with the characters you’re working with. Plus, the fact that you can pretty much customize the colors and patterns of everything makes home creation and designing much easier.

There are also quite a few kinks and glitches in the game, as mentioned above. Don’t let this dissuade you from purchasing the game. Practically every Sims has had an issue or ten when first released. EA will likely release a patch to remedy errant issues soon.

Site [The Sims 3]

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  • Jenni Lada

    You just gotta keep an eye out at your local Goodwill. That's where I find my best bargains. Sometimes Salvation Army as well.

    EA just released a patch for the Sims 3 that seems to fix everything. At least now Story Progression can be turned off and ultra speed is actually speedy!

    I miss the community lots as well. You're right though, it'll probably be an expansion thing.

    I'd always make an all-purpose Sims 2 lot too! I kind of wish I could do that here as well, just to make things simpler.

  • Krisin

    You can create your own community lots, al you have to do is change an empty lot to a community lot. Then you click build/buy mode on it and it will have community options to put on your lot.

  • Janine Dong

    I haven't actually spent all that much time for me to run into glitches yet in The Sims 3 (knock on wood). I really dislike the fact that you can't build community lots like you could in the previous installments. It's pretty lame…or maybe that's what's in the works for the first expansion pack (lame!).

    I'm not that annoyed with the fact that you can only play one family at a time. You can still place your own created sims in the town if you want them to be incorporated into your current family's life. I also like the seamless town cuz there are hardly any load times anymore. That's one thing that annoyed me in The Sims 2. I used to try to build a lot that had everything in it just so my sims didn't have to go to the store.

    I'm truly amazed at all the bargain buys that you always run into! I was able to get The Sims 3 for $10 also, but that's cuz I have a friend who works at EA. You need to sprinkle some of that champion bargain finding luck on me over here :P