|System: PC||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: The Sims Studio||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: EA Games||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Nov. 16, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
The puzzle-solving gameplay comes into play while navigating the various tombs you'll encounter, and those seeking challenging puzzles will be supremely disappointed. A majority of the puzzles involve locating tiles on the floor you'll need to stand on to open a door, or inspecting a suspicious looking wall to reveal a hidden door. Nevertheless, there are a lot of different ways you can navigate the tombs such as disarming traps, swimming to the bottom of wells and finding a passage leading to another room, clearing rubble to find hidden treasure, setting up a tent and resting to avoid death in larger tombs, and timing jumps over fire traps to reach a door or switch. In the end, each different puzzle is relatively easy to solve, but once combined with a significant number and variety of others, completing each tomb is still a rewarding experience.
Of course, players aren't forced into adventures while vacationing if they don't want to. You can simply go and make friends with the locals, train in new skills, or even buy a vacation home. And, once you return home, you can even invite friends from foreign countries to visit you. On the other hand, completing adventures for the locals earns you Visa points, which go toward increasing your Visa level. The amount of time you visit these locations depends on your Visa level. Moreover, your Visa level is connected to each specific location, so while you may have a Visa level of two in China, your Visa level in a place you haven't been, such as Egypt, is still the lowest.
World Adventures also features a host of new lifetime awards that can be obtained. For example, there is a lifetime award that can make it so your vacation stays are longer, while another one makes it so the travel costs are lower. Interestingly, there is also one that allows you to vacation as much as you want while seeing no negative impact on your job. While I haven't acquired this lifetime award yet, I can say that I vacationed quite a lot, only spending a day or two between vacations so I could earn some money to spend, and never saw any negative impact on my job status.
It is also important to note that the dreaded "Error Code 12" that occurs when attempting to save games that have been running for long periods of time is still here. I did get this particular error code once during my time with World Adventures. However, what did make for a frustrating experience were the frequent and unexpected crashes. Now whether these crashes are a result of running the game on the newly released Windows 7, 64-bit OS, or something else is unclear, but I found myself routinely having to save my game, sometimes forgetting to save and losing an hour and a half worth of progress.
While those technical problems could have less to do with World Adventures and more with the system running it, it is also worth mentioning that the game isn't without its own bugs. For example, while on a three-day vacation in France, I was exploring the local Nectary and improving my Nectar-making skill. By the way, "nectar" is code for "wine." Anyway, an indicator came up saying I had one hour left on my vacation, but once the hour had past, the usual dialogue box letting me know my vacation was over, which would then load me back into my main town, never appeared. Instead, the time was stuck on 11:59 and I lost the ability to see inside any of the buildings. Even more strange was that my character was still performing actions within those buildings, the day/night cycle was still being rotated visually, and other characters were going about their daily lives. It was at this point, and after looking over all the menus and PDA options, I noticed that there is no other way of returning home once abroad, even if you wanted to leave early. Now, this only happened to me once and luckily I had a save point just before the vacation was over, so a quick load and it worked on the second run.
The Sims 3: World Adventures is definitely a fun and focused expansion pack that improves upon the franchise's strengths, delivers some new content, and, most importantly, adds a quest-driven focus to the gameplay. It is visually identical to the original and the controls are exactly the same, so veterans can expect no surprises in this regard. And, while there are a few technical problems that may arise, the expansion remains an overwhelmingly satisfying experience. If the constant flow of optional DLC hasn't inspired you enough to keep playing The Sims 3, I suggest giving World Adventures a look.
CCC Freelance Writer