It’s hard to believe that The Sims has been around for over a decade. The PC life simulation series has seen countless spin-offs and expansion packs, and of course the prototypical console ports. However, up until now these console knock-offs have been nothing short of disappointing. Transitioning the mouse click style gameplay to a controller is no easy task. In the past the developers tried taking a different approach to the gameplay instead of simply trying to tweak and fix what was already there. The Sims 3 is a nice hybrid of both ideas that keeps the series’ core concepts intact while giving it an identity of its own at the same time.
For the five of you who don’t know what The Sims is let me give you a quick synopsis. This simulation game lets you control the lives of your virtual family in their day-to-day lives. This includes sending them to work, cooking, cleaning and of course going to the bathroom. It is sort of like playing God in a way only without the consequences. Pretty much anything you can conjure up can be done. You can place your Sims in a room with no windows or doors and watch them suffer or help them flourish to the point of conceiving children and even maintaining relationships. The addictive nature of the game hasn’t changed over the years and fans of the series will be pleased with this latest manifestation.
Transitioning this game to consoles has definitely been a challenge over the years. With The Sims 3 the design team has managed to bring all of what makes the PC version so special. The reason it all works is because of the streamlined control scheme. You control a beam of light with the analog sticks and select areas of the world to interact with. The genius part is that the game doesn’t require you to be exact, and will offer up options depending on what is in the vicinity of the area you clicked. You can also snap to your Sims by clicking in the analog stick making keeping track of them much more convenient.
When you first get into the game you will be tasked with creating up to six Sims for your household. Take into account that this process can be cumbersome and drawn out, so make sure to give yourself ample time to create your ideal cast. The creation process is extremely in-depth and there are literally thousands of possibilities. One of the cooler features is the ability to download other users’ clothing options via the in-game marketplace. This opens up so many varieties that you could literally get lost in creating your character for hours.
This is where console owners will be in for a surprise. Unlike previous efforts this version of The Sims follows the standard set by its PC brethren. Instead of specific linear goals you are basically dropped into the world with a few tutorials to help get you moving. From there on what you do is entirely up to you. You can be an astronaut, a politician or just a downright thief if you want, which is what made the PC versions so popular amongst gamers. The concept of allowing players to push the boundaries of the game is the most appealing aspect, and one console owners have been without to date. Getting accustomed to handling all of this can be overwhelming at first, which is why I recommend only creating one Sim if this is your first time at the rodeo.
Some console specific features have of course been added which spice up the gameplay and give it a little more structure than its PC counterpart. One of these is known as karma. Fulfilling certain obligations allots you karma points which can be used to improve your Sim with the aid of a special power. These can range from creating the luckiest Sim on Earth, to bringing dead relatives back to life. While they spruce up the gameplay, their main goal is to streamline some of the more menial tasks found within its PC counterpart. Either way they do add a nice differential for players not accustomed to the depth of the series.
The other major upgrade to the console iteration is challenges. These tasks net you challenge points which can be used on just about anything in the game you might want access to including karma powers, new furniture sets and more. These challenges range from simple tasks such as learning skills, to more in-depth things like visiting various landmarks. There are tons of challenges to complete in the game so you will never have a shortage of things to achieve. Not to mention the tied-in trophies and achievements you can earn for completing them.
That is one thing you cannot accuse The Sims 3 of being: short on content. This game is packed to the rims of the disc with stuff to see and do. So much in fact that it feels like performance took a back seat. When one of the loading screens mentions installing the game to improve things like loading times and “optimal” settings, you know something is up. The game does have its moment of chugging, but when considering the nature of the mechanics, it never does more than agitate you at best.
The Sims 3 on console is a great step in the right direction for the series. Console owners can finally see what all the fuss is about, and for some out there this is the perfect excuse to get your significant other to finally join in your past time. The game is quirky and humorous and full of things to see and do. So much in fact that it should keep you occupied for months on end. If the series has never been your cup of tea, The Sims 3 on consoles is not going to change your mind. The team has finally managed to marry the complexity of the PC version with the approachability of a console game. Anyone looking for the ultimate God-simulator on console should definitely check it out.
Review copy provided by publisher.