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The Sims 3 (PC) artwork

The Sims 3 (PC) review

"The Sims 3 is the third incarnation of The Sims franchise and by far the best the series has to offer."

After countless expansion packs and one sequel, one of the greatest-selling PC games of all time finally received a brand-new sequel. Simply titled, The Sims 3 is the third incarnation of The Sims franchise, and it's a great combination of old and new.

If for some obscure reason you have no idea what The Sims is all about, then allow me to give you a brief introduction to this phenomenon. The Sims is a virtual life simulator in which you control the lives of artificial people known as sims (surprised?). The sims are pretty much like real human beings. They speak their own language known as Simlish, which sounds like gibberish to us. The sims have their own currency known as Simolians. They eat, sleep, go to the toilet, break things, date, get married and have children. They even have jobs, dreams and aspirations, hobbies and so on. If you ever wanted to play a life management simulation then The Sims is the obvious choice.

One of the many factors that makes number three so great are the number of customization options and choices offered in almost each and every aspect. You start the game by choosing a sim or sims. There are pre-made sims available to choose from, but the fun really starts if you decide to create your own. The number of settings that you can tinker with in "Create a Sim" mode is mind boggling. These settings include basics such as age, gender and skin color, as well as advanced settings such as face profiles, eye scale and height, nose width and length, and much more. Itís all here and it can all be changed. Similarly, the kinds of clothes that are available are numerous. What your sim will wear on a formal occasion to the sleepwear and athletic wear can be picked. And if you donít like any of the clothes or designs the game has to offer, you can create your own pattern and designs for almost every occasion.

The customization doesnít end there. You also have to give your sim a personality. The personality traits are divided into various categories such as Mental, Physical, and Social. The kind of personality that you give your sim will determine how he or she reacts in different situations and what their lifelong dream is. Five different choices of lifelong dream are presented to you based on the personality traits, representing what your sim will aspire to achieve in life. So you can have an Evil, Absent-minded, Flirty, Funny sim whose lifelong dream is to become The Emperor of Evil or an Ambitious, Athletic, Bookworm sim who wants to become an illustrious author. The career paths are almost limitless.

Another area of the game that lets you flex your creative muscles is the "Create a Household" mode. Again, the tools and options available are robust and they allow you to create almost everything in that dream house of yours. From swimming pools to fences, from walls to archways, itís all there for that inner architect of yours to experiment with. You can finally build a house with that cone-shaped roof and the polka-dotted walls that you always dreamed of. The only restriction in "Create a Household" mode is that you initially only have a limited amount of money to spend.

Perhaps the best part about The Sims 3 is how seamlessly and effortlessly it makes you feel part of an entire living, breathing, virtual community. Once you start playing, there are no load times or loading screens to stare at at. So whether you're going to work, to the gym, or to the public library, it all happens in real time. This is something that was missing from previous games.

Also, this game grants you the freedom to explore and do whatever you like in Sunset Valley (the first town where the game takes place), which will make you keep coming back for more. You can go fishing, shopping, watch TV, interact with other sims living in the neighborhood, and so on. The only linearity found in the game is when you decide to pursue that lifelong dream of yours. For example, if you chose to become a world renowned chef, then the only way is to perform activities related to cooking (such as get a culinary job or take cooking classes).

Pursuing the lifelong career is where the game does get a bit dull. This is because when your sim goes to work, he or she enters a building and all you can do is stare at the screen while a few options pop up such as sucking up to the boss or getting to know your colleagues. Each option at work has its own perk; for example, if you decide to suck up to the boss, you might get a promotion quicker, but it would have been nice to actually control more of your simís work life.

Mundane household chores such as cleaning, taking showers, or brushing your teeth, also get boring. The sims take way too long to empty their bladders or clean the kitchen, and it made me wish that I didnít have to do all these routine activities. Every now and then your sims communicate their wishes to you, such as wanting new and better items or learning a new skill. Fulfilling these wishes earns you happiness points, which can be spent on upgrades for your sims. Upgrades that allow your sims to never have to go to the bathroom or not be bothered by a dirty house do eliminate the mundane tasks, but you shouldnít have to spend your hard-earned happiness points on such petty upgrades. It would have been better if these mundane tasks could be performed by the sims in seconds instead of minutes.

When not performing mundane tasks or working, you will want to spend your time interacting with other sims. Each interaction is unique, fun, and amusing to watch. When you approach a sim you are given various conversation options as bubbles over your simís head, some of which are even unique based on the personality traits you chose. Watching the sims interact with each other, converse in their gibberish, or express themselves through their gestures and expressions not only looks great but sounds great too.

In fact, the production values of The Sims 3 are stellar all round. The game is bright, colorful, nicely detailed and oozing with charming and cute graphics in a distinct style of its own. Similarly, the musical score that plays on different occasions are just right. Whether itís the note you hear when your sim clogs the toilet, or the bit that plays when you achieve something, itís always the right sound at the right time.

Being able to control almost every aspect of a characterís life, even if itís a virtual one, makes this game very engaging, addictive and involving. You will find yourself glued to your monitor for hours, trying to get that next promotion or trying to hook up with the cute sim next door. Itís hard not to end up feeling connected, and actually end up caring for your sims.

If you are a fan of The Sims then you will find The Sims 3 to be a sequel that improves upon previous gameplay elements and adds some new ones to the mix. If you havenít yet been a part of The Sims craze, then part three is the best place to start. This one is recommended for all.


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Freelance review by Sohail Saleem (September 14, 2009)

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