Gaming Today Sims 3 Gameplay Impressions: Out with the Old in with the New
The Sims 3 is the next generation of the original Maxis hit god game, The Sims. The game is definitely a technical evolution as I described in my impressions on Sims 3 Creation, Buy, and Build mode design mechanics, but how does it actually play after you’ve spent hours designing your Sims and their new homes.
Sims 3 breaks The Sims out of the confines of their beautifully constructed prisons and allows them to freely roam the world around them. You can follow your sim to work at the theater or the military base or watch as they jog, bike, or drive to the beach for a sunny afternoon. You can walk around town collecting little treasures like unpolished gems and mystery seeds or go introduce yourself to your neighbors. Just walk up and ring the bell.
The tediousness of taking your sims to the bathroom and feeding them has been greatly reduced. There are even lifetime happiness rewards to practically eliminate the need all together. As long as you give them some free will, your sims can pretty much take care of the mechanics themselves leaving you to direct them in duties and opportunities above and beyond the daily routine. Visit the Cemetery and science lab to catch exotic fish and insects and find other cool easter eggs.
Fishing and gardening go well together and both are great ways to get special items like the death flower that can prolong an elder’s life. You plant produce from the store or the seeds you find around town and fertilize with the fish you catch using some of your produce as bait. You’ll also find much more to do with computer now, especially if your sim has the Genius or Computer Whiz trait.
Pregnancy and child rearing is a bit more challenging. You have to work at keeping your mother healthy and well informed during pregnancy by reading baby books or going to the hospital for prenatal advice. you can choose a home birth or go to the hospital to deliver. After the babies are born you must teach them the skills they need and maintain their motives throughout childhood to be able to choose their traits. Fortunately, you can age them up faster by having them blow out the candles on the birthday cake early which is great to get them from infant to toddler. The only sims you can’t age up this way are pregnant mothers who stop aging until they give birth.
The sims communities you build can actually be dynamic on the highest free will settings with aging and storytelling options on. You can choose between several life spans for your sims. If you’re into slowly developing the community you can set the maximum life span for up to 960 sim days or you can go through generations with sims aging from birth to death in a mere 25 days. As you play one family they interact with all the others in town who live, love, reproduce, and age right along side your focus family. This can be a double edged sword. Switching between families may be disconcerting. Your toddler is now a teen and Grandma is taking a dirt nap. In your absence, the parents have neglected the kids who consequently picked up undesirable traits like “kleptomaniac” or “insane”.
You can turn off aging and free will all together and toggle story progression which determines whether non controlled families keep developing and working towards their goals in the background. There is no way to turn off aging or story progression for individual families. It’s all or none of them. Fortunately your custom families are all stored safely in a library. You move a copy into play so if you’re really attached to any of them, you can always start over fresh.
Somehow the game feels incomplete at this point. Although this is the base game with none of the plethora of expansions for Sims 2, there’s a feeling of detachment soon after your sims leave their local neighborhood and head for town. You can visit any outside location including the pool, park or beach. You can go inside the the gym, the art museum and the library. Although you can buy a partnership and gain control of other businesses in town, you can’t actually enter any of the businesses, eateries or the school. You’re left standing outside while your sims buy groceries and books. Feel free to take a stroll through the graveyard, but you can’t tour the mausoleum or explore the catacombs with your Sims. Taking a tour, going to the cinema, and completing opportunities take a couple hours of game time for you to wait out. It also very irritating that if you send your sims to the hospital to have a baby, you wait outside as well.
People who were looking forward to seeing special cut scenes as rewards for reaching milestones in sims’ lives will be disappointed as well. This part of the previous games is completely missing. I’m sure there are others that will be relieved these pop up events will no longer interrupt gameplay.
There’s a lot to appreciate about the Sims 3. It’s truly an evolution of the game, adding new layers of gameplay and smoothing out many of the frustrations of the previous series. Sims fans will enjoy this game overall if they can keep remembering that options they had with later expansion packs for previous games will eventually be theirs. If you have trouble keeping this front and center in your mind, it’s going to be a long wait.