Krabnor! Barsnit tem do. Neep neep!
I picked up The Sims 3 this week and have played it a fair amount. It’s more or less what one would expect if one’s played The Sims 2 – not a wholly new game but a welcome update to the old game.
Character creation is more flexible than ever, especially with the amount of control one has over appearance. I was suitably impressed with the available options and was quickly able to make my sim version of Tobias Fünke (yes, from Arrested Development), which was a pretty good visual approximation if I do say so myself. Sims have life goals which are chosen at creation, and the life goals available are based on the traits (up to 5) chosen for the sim. Tobias is a never-nude of course, and is also a couch potato, but he’s friendly and flirtacious. Sadly, he’s a bit of a loser as well. This combination of traits allowed him several life goals, of which Network Anchor was the closest fit to the “real” Tobias’ goals.
Much of the game was very familiar and doesn’t require introduction if you’re familiar with what’s come before. You can let your sim(s) do their own thing or you can micromanage everything. You can build/modify as well as decorate your home. The furnishings and furniture options are similar to what’s come before, and nothing really stood out there as being terribly new or different.
What is new is that the game isn’t about your sim household anymore, but now includes the entire town. Your sim can walk/jog/run/drive anywhere he/she wishes, from a quick trip to the supermarket to pick up some fresh produce, to a trip to the community pool for a swim, to a jaunt to the local bookstore to pick up some light reading or training manuals for skills. The added freedom here is very welcome and makes the sim’s life feel much more organic and realistic. I was disappointed that with the advent of all this freedom, I still can’t micromanage my sim at work… but I can at least pick how my sim passes his work days, choosing from options like “business as usual”, “work hard”, “take it easy”, “chat with partner” (for some jobs), or even “use workout room” to get some exercise in and develop the athletic skill while on the job.
Lifetime goals are supplemented by transient goals, of which a sim can have up to 4 at a time. These come and go pretty quickly, and I’ve been able to complete a large number very quickly, doing things like increasing a skill, making a new friend, etc. Completing these goals gives points which can be spent on lifetime rewards; the first such that my sim purchased was “steel bladder”, which literally made it so he never needed to use the toilet again. I later followed those up with rewards to make hunger and hygeine drop more slowly, making it much easier to keep my sim in a good mood all the time.
Sims have 10 skills they can work on: athletics, charisma, logic, fishing, gardening, writing, painting, handyman, and guitar. As in previous games, these skills lead to faster promotions at applicable jobs, or in some cases (painting and writing) can be jobs in and of themselves. You can learn the skills from practicing them, from reading books about them, or in some cases from watching TV shows about them. You can even take classes in each skill at the appropriate place (e.g. restaurants for cooking skill).
Skills have been supplemented in Sims 3 by some new skill masteries. There are 3 masteries per skill, and each is unlocked by performing a lot of actions with that skill – e.g. if you use Handyman skill to repair 10 plumbing objects, then any objects that sim repairs subsequently will never break again. The masteries allow a bit more development and customization and are a welcome addition to the franchise.
To sum up: it’s a fun game, but doesn’t feel all that different in most regards from The Sims 2. If you liked the previous games, you’re likely to enjoy this one as well. It’s not revolutionary but it’s well-produced and fun, with the same light, silly aesthetics I’ve come to expect from the franchise.