The Sims 3 is the latest console-based installment in EA’s world-conquering life simulation series, but it’s been conspicuously absent on consoles until now. Indeed, the new ports are lagging behind the PC edition by over a year. Does the addition of the much-hyped ‘Karma’ system – and the option to play from the comfort of your sofa – make up for this excruciating delay? Find out in our exclusive The Sims 3 review.
The Sims 3 is one of those titles which neatly exposes the delicious irony behind the hobby of interactive entertainment. Many of us chose video games to escape from the rigmarole of everyday life, yet this insanely popular franchise is about living the life of another person – an existence which has the capacity to be equally as mundane and challenging as our own.
But then there’s a good reason for that: The Sims 3 is insanely addictive. Based on the PC version which was released last year, this life simulation is more complex, more detailed and more significant than previous entries in the series. Pesky loading times and limited interaction with the outside world – two major criticisms which could be levelled at The Sims 2 – are now banished. Your Sim is free to explore the environment around them, and the act of stepping outside their front door no longer incurs a lengthy loading screen.
The real wonder of The Sims 3 comes with watching your creations mature and take on personalities of their own. You can interject and give your Sims a selection of orders whenever you wish, but the way in which they go about their everyday business is uncanny, and as relationships develop and skills are acquired you’ll see your Sims get evermore independent.
The Sims 3 is all about open-ended gameplay and freedom. Although you’re encouraged to ensure your digital denizens are as content as possible, there’s no real objective here – you can play the game in whatever manner you wish. In fact, using The Sims 3’s new ‘Karma’ points system (which has been coded exclusively for the home console editions) and powers such as the hilarious ‘Epic Fail’ and the apocalyptic ‘Fire Storm’, you can inflict misery and suffering on your unwitting creations, and sit back to chuckle at the unfortunate aftermath.
Also new to the home console versions of The Sims 3 is a challenge-based achievement system which allows you to connect to your Facebook and Twitter accounts, thereby notifying your friends when you pass certain milestones within the game world. Keeping with the theme of social interaction, you can also use your console’s online capabilities to exchange items and content with other Sims players.
The amount of content, situations, creations and entertainment offered by The Sims 3 is practically limitless — you can play it any way you wish, guiding a solitary Sim through their life from cradle to grave, or alternatively creating a fully-formed family unit – a situation which is arguably even more demanding. Those of you who like your games to have solid objectives and gripping storylines will probably find this astonishing degree of scope a little off-putting, but previous fans will undoubtedly revel in the almost boundless possibilities.
The biggest issue with this console port of The Sims 3 is the interface. This is clearly a PC title that has been customised in order to function on home consoles. Although the developer has done a commendable job of assigning shortcuts to various joypad buttons, there’s no escaping the fact that a mouse pointer would be infinitely better. This is one game that would certainly benefit from support for Sony PlayStation Move peripheral or Microsoft’s Kinect, although at present EA doesn’t plan to incorporate either of these features into the PS3 or Xbox 360 versions of the title.
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We also noticed some slightly disappointing performance issues with The Sims 3. All too often the game stutters and pauses as data is spooled off the disc, and this can lead to some moments of frustration, especially when you’re attempting to hand out detailed orders to your digital brood. Installing the game to your console’s hard disc alleviates the problem somewhat, but those gamers who don’t possess cavernous storage devices really shouldn’t be treated as second-class citizens.
Dedicated Sims fans will be able to overlook the minor problems that ever-so-slightly dull The Sims 3’s otherwise glossy exterior. If you’ve already experienced the game on the PC then there’s little reason to revisit this home console edition – aside from the amusing Karma system – but computer-less devotees will no doubt find this zany replication of real life consumes all too much of their own.