The Sims is the single best-selling PC game series of all time. Back in 1989, a man named Will Wright designed a game called Sim City. He had the novel idea of a game where there was no real conclusion; no ending, no final boss, and no closing cinematic. In short, he took the lazy way out and allowed the players to take responsibility for their own entertainment. He took this to the extreme in his most recent game, Spore, where the player constructs every aspect of an organism’s existence. That being said, Wright was not involved in the development of The Sims 3. Thus, the game is slightly different than its predecessors. I’m going to openly assume that you, the reader, have already played or watched someone play The Sims in one form or another, so I can continue on as such. Generally, the gameplay remains very similar, but in The Sims 3 there is a much heavier emphasis on each Sim’s life goals and overall progress/success instead of a moment-to-moment effort to stay alive and satisfied.
A Sim’s mood is still very important; skills are learned and promotions earned faster when in a good mood. But instead of a constant fight to keep your Sim awake, fed, clean, and having fun, they are generally happy unless something is very wrong. Each Sim has traits that define his/her personality (discussed later), so various activities and events affect them uniquely. For example, if a Sim is a loner, being at a party makes his mood plummet, whereas a social butterfly is never happier. This leads me to my next point, and perhaps the real highlight of the game: character creation. Many games nowadays give the player control over a character’s facial features, down to minute details such as the width and protrusion of the jawline. However, no other games have gone into this level of detail with the rest of the character. A player can color their Sim’s hair with different colors for the roots, base color, highlights, and tips, and go as far as to assign specific hairstyles with individual outfits. Even clothing options focus less on sheer variety and allow for any article to be recolored and patterned at a whim.
Finally, every Sim has traits that define what actions are available to them and what their ultimate life goal will be. This goal is optional, of course, but a Sim’s life is much more limited this time around. Sims grow from toddlers to children to teenagers to young adults to adults to elders in roughly 21 in-game days per transition. Considering most Sims start as young adults or adults out of the creator, if the life goal is something you wish to achieve you’d best get on it. The most noticeable change to the game is the town in which the Sims live. There is no loading into or out of the town versus an individual residence. It all exists at the same time. At any time Sims can run or drive in their very own cars—another notable addition—elsewhere to go fishing or enjoy the beach while other Sims back at home can still be controlled in real time. Should you switch control to another household within the same town, time will advance just the same. Birthdays (aging ceremonies) will be celebrated, children born, and bills paid without the player’s involvement whatsoever. Lastly, I’ll just remark on one of my favorite new features of the game. Each and every character has an inventory and cell phone at their disposal. Sims can carry around food, guitars, books, and other merchandise they buy until they decide to use it, wherever they happen to be at the time. Also, any relationship management can be easily done via the cell phone; Sims can keep in touch with distant friends, call emergency services, or even move out of a house using options from the phone icon. The Sims 3 being the first PC game I’ve ever reviewed, I should note that I played it on my Lenovo T61, the official laptop of the Class of 2011. With most of the graphics settings at the midpoint or lower, the game runs virtually without slowdown or noticeable deficiencies.
Overall, I very much enjoyed the game, but couldn’t help but get bored after a few nights playing it. It is a great successor in the series, but hasn’t managed to be anything deeper than addictive in the long term.