|System: PC, PS3, X360, Wii, DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: EA Redwood Shores||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Electronic Arts||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: June 2, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
Despite all of the added features and persistent world, The Sims 3 oddly leaves out some content that should have really been included. Add-ons like season weather, which was included in one of The Sims 2's expansion packs, aren't present here. So, while The Sims 3 does provide a lot of content, there are some details that were accounted for in previous installments that aren't represented.
Another missing component is an intimate view of your career. When players send their sim off to work, they can watch as far as the door to the building, at which point the sim enters and the player is given an aerial view of the building until the sim's shift ends. Behavior options are available while the sim is at work, which affects the productivity and chances of promotion. For example, as a police officer, the player can set their sim to "Chat with Partner," which improves their relationship with their partner, but doesn't increase their chances of promotion as quickly as say setting their behavior to "Work hard." This system does give the player some control over their sims' career on a day-to-day basis, but seems strange in comparison to the amount of depth found in other areas.
Another interesting and mildly irritating limitation is how a sim can only have one career at a time, despite whether work shifts overlap or not. If one shift ends at 2 p.m. and the other begins at 3 p.m., why should you not be able to work two careers at once if you want? Sure, working two jobs in real life isn't fun at all, and maybe this was the thinking behind limiting a sim to one career, but if you want to make your sim a work-a-holic with two jobs and no social life, then the option should be there.
While The Sims 3 continues the tradition of a solely offline and single-player experience, the continuation of social networking features remains as strong as ever. The Sims 3 launcher allows players to do a variety of things such as upload their own content, including individual sims, objects, houses, public buildings, and entire towns. Players have the option of creating their own player page, which includes a blog and an area to display all their created content for sharing.
In addition to being able to share content with other players via the website, exclusive content can be downloaded from the developers in exchange for SimPoints, which are purchased with real money. While this particular system isn't very popular, it doesn't hurt the game much because players have the option of just downloading shared content instead. Moreover, while some content requires SimPoints, players will be happy to know that actual game updates remain free.
These online features greatly increase the longevity of The Sims 3. Considering how detailed the creation tools are, players should have a nearly endless source of downloadable content to choose from. Perhaps the only negative thing about the online feature is the fact that it can't all be done in a browser built into the game, forcing players to muddle around in their browser and install content prior to launching the game. So, while it may not be as integrated as it could be, it definitely isn't any less easy to use.
The Sims 3 was a huge undertaking and it shows. The core gameplay remains largely unchanged, with minor tweaks and improvements that unquestionably add to the fun. Enhanced visuals and an expectedly good soundtrack excel at creating truly immersive moments, especially when moving around the largely persistent world. Even though there are areas that lack the level of detail and depth of the game as a whole, they still provide options to the player that keep the game from running into issues, which makes them identifiable as areas for improvement rather than a complete overhaul.
If you're a fan of the series, then The Sims 3 will deliver all that you've come to expect and throw in a ton of new ideas, even if the amount of extra toppings doesn't seem as vast. Newcomers to the series take note: if you've ever thought about playing The Sims, but were overwhelmed by the many expansion and "stuff" packs on the shelves, fear not; The Sims 3 is your window of opportunity.
CCC Freelance Writer