|System: PS3, X360, Wii, PC, DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: The Sims Studio||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: Oct. 26, 2010||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Amanda L. Kondolojy
Throughout the series' history, The Sims has had two very different (and not necessarily equal) versions: console and PC. The PC versions have always featured open-world, infinitely expandable, and customizable utopias where you could pluck in Sims and have fun in the game's sandbox-style world. However, console versions have always been completely different, following a single sim through a linear progression of goal-oriented events. While the console offerings were always fun on a base level, they never had the scope of the PC version and players never got to experience the true freedom that came from the open world gameplay that was the PC's hallmark. However, with the Sims 3 on consoles, console owners will finally be able to experience The Sims in its true form.
Let's be clear about one thing. If you really liked The Sims 2 (or any of its expansions) on consoles and like your simulation-style games extremely linear, then The Sims 3 will bewilder you at first. The game basically throws you into the open world, with only a few pop-up tutorials letting you know how to move around your house and change modes to get you started. If you are used to jumping directly into the creation mode, getting a job, and spending your entire sim life at your house, the switch to the completely open world is jarring at first. In fact, I would venture say that big fans of the console iterations may even be turned off by the completely open world at first. But I would advise those people to stick with it, because the Sims 3 has plenty of rewarding gameplay under its hood.
Like all Sim games, the game's beginning is a bit of a blur. Your first goal is to create a sim, and in the Sims 3, you can create up to six (which is quite ambitious but can be done in the span of a few hours). The lack of a creation option was a little disappointing. Perhaps I've been spoiled by the creation modes in sports games like SmackDown vs. Raw, but just having a few hairstyles and clothing options (with no customization options) felt hollow. Of course, you can unlock more clothes as you progress through a career and accomplish goals, but even the simple facial feature customization palette felt a little underwhelming.
Of course, the saving grace here is the online integration, which allows you to download content from other users while in the game. When I was dressing my character for the first time, I noticed a lack of basic tee-shirts (who wears long sleeves all the time?), but I was easily able to hop on the online community space and download a striped tee-shirt with no hassle whatsoever. Once your Sim's look has been set, you can determine their personality. You can select five trait badges to create your Sim's personality, and there is definitely a lot to choose from. Personality traits can be as vague as "Lucky" or "Brave" to very specific things like "Hydrophobic" and "Does not Like Art." There are also a whole host of negative personality traits that you can use if you have one particular Sim that you have designed to be tortured (you know everyone has one). Once I was done creating my Sims (I made myself a roommate in addition to my mini-me), it was time to launch head-first into the world of Sims 3.
Initially, you'll have a lot to do in the Sims 3. Buy a house, find some friends, get a job, and of course, take care of your Sims' needs (bathing, eating, etc). If you have multiple Sims, this can feel hectic at first, but I noticed if you left them alone, they tended to take care of themselves. Well, except for going to work. It seems that even if your sim has the hard-working personality trait, they'll still need a kick in the rump to get to work every morning.