Gameplay impressionsWhat do we like?
What on Earth happened to the time? We've had our copy of The Sims 3 for a few weeks now and although we've only ever intended to pop into our friendly neighbourhood for an hour or so in one play session, purely for the purpose of writing this review, we've lost hours upon hours to its addictive gameplay.
Undoubtedly, one of the biggest draws of The Sims 3 is seeing your character really progress and change in front of your eyes based on the decisions you make. There's a lot more focus in this latest iteration than previous games, with life goals and smaller objectives giving the gameplay real purpose and drive. A heavier focus on storyline and a broader range of character traits also injects some extra personality into your character. Hence, the gameplay as a whole feels more engaging than previous games.
Though the interface will be instantly familiar to anyone who’s ever played a Sims title, it has received an overhaul. The clear icons and uncluttered layout now make it even easier to navigate and carry out your daily tasks. The stress of micro-managing all of those basic needs, such as hunger and your weak bladder, has virtually been eliminated. The basic needs still need fulfilling, but they’re not a core part of the gameplay. You spend much more time in this iteration focusing on the fun things rather than panicking about the fact that your Sim may die from starvation. An alert system always gives you a clear indication as to what you should be focusing on and more often than not it will be something that you'll enjoy doing rather than a menial task.
The Sims 3 offers a hugely entertaining neighbourhood that can be traversed smoothly without the load times that we’ve experienced in past games. The city is littered with things to do, choices to make, entertaining side objects and interesting people to flirt with. Visually, it’s more colourfully impressive than ever, but there’s also been a lot of clever design decisions that have ultimately afforded us more freedom to explore. Consequently, it feels like you’re part of a living, breathing city.
The Lifetime Happiness system, plucked from Sims 2, is more in-depth in The Sims 3, which means that you’ve always got something to focus on if you start to feel yourself getting lost or overwhelmed by the deep Sims experience. You might be aiming, for instance, to be an Astronaut, and along the way you'll be given side objectives that ultimately lead you to your goal.
The new customization options allow you to give your character and home that personal touch. The new Create-a-Sim interface adds an exhaustive list of options so you can change the way your character looks, whereas the ability to customise items means that you can get your house looking exactly the way you want it to.
What don't we like?
The Sims 3 is still mainly about grinding and you'll still find yourself repeating the same actions over and over again, much in the same way as we do in real life. That isn't going to be appeal to everybody, but shouldn't put off fans of the series. It's not really a negative as such, more a preference.
The Sims franchise has evolved. EA and Maxis has taken everything that is great from its previous games and enhanced and fine-tuned almost every aspect, as well as adding some new features that give the gameplay more focus and purpose than ever before. The Sims is back, bigger and better than ever. The Sims 3 is a real high point in the series and an ideal time for anyone who hasn't played this life-sim, wherever they may be hiding, to enjoy its unique and addictive qualities.
Final Score: 9/10