Posted on June 16, 2009,

Gaming Today: Sims 3 Impressions for the Building and Design Fan

sims_3.jpgThe Sims series has taken the next big leap forward with the latest full game, The Sims 3. Fans of the sims will find a lot to love about the game as long as they can keep in mind that Sims 3 is a new base game. Gamers who own every expansion and stuff pack for Sims 2 should find the new game mechanics fixes much of what wasn’t fun about the previous titles, but they’ll have to be patient as many of the luxuries they’ve come to take for granted will have to wait for expansion. Read on for the scoop on the Sims 3.

Character Creation, Buy and Build Mode Mechanics:

At first glance, Sims 3 looks really good. I’ve been playing in on an HP laptop with Vista, a dual processor, and a mediocre ATI video card. The first thing I noticed on firing it up was how fast the load screen flew by. With Sims 2, I’m sure I’m not the only one used to putting in the game, then wandering off to take care of something else while it loaded.

Creation has much less to offer at first blush, but is actually much richer than previous games. Players have six basic skin tones to choose from. Natural flesh tones include a peach, pink, and tan base that slide between pale to very dark skinned. Fantasy tones include pink to red, blue, and green skin tones for your Farscape or Star Trek sims. Choose on sliding scales whether your sim is skinny or obese and between scrawny and ripped and you’re ready to put on your game face.

sims3_faceThe facial sculpting is the most user friendly system I’ve encountered including Fallout 3. The complex options allow players to take their basic face and break it down into subcategories like mouth or nose. These can be adjusted globally or be broken down further by choosing sub sections like the lower lip or nostrils.

Assigning a different hair style for each clothing category is now a standard option.You can adjust the main hair color, roots, highlights and tips as well as recolor eyes and makeup elements. Players can change colors using a basic palette, the color wheel or by entering the precise hexadecimal code for clothing, build and buy which is great for matching elements. This should free up tons of space on your hard drive you used to reserve for all that Sims custom content. Most of what you’ll be downloading now are patterns and meshes.

There are basic meshes available in all clothing categories that can be infinitely varied to the limits of your creativity. Garments as well as most buy and build items have up to four variables you can alter. There are many patterns covering fabrics in geometric and abstract designs. You can choose from furs, tiles, stones, and leather as well which are all recolorable. Themed patterns let you create the fun patterns for kids rooms, clothes, and gear as well as more grown up coordinating floral or fruit patterns. You get one set of outfits to begin with, but can create and design more for free once you buy a dresser. You carry three versions of each type of outfit that you don’t have to be at the dresser to change into.

sims3_traitsFinish up your sim by selecting up to five traits from physical, mental, social and life style choices. Some of these were rewards in the Sims 2 they all give you specialized options when socializing with other sims. Some traits like Evil or Grumpy can make your sim more of a challenge to play. Based on your choices, you’ll be offered different Lifetime wishes to select from. You’ll also be able to select from three different voices with a sliding scale for pitch. Pick a favorite food, music style aka radio station, and color and your all set.

Unlike previous Sims games, furniture and home decor can be changed from the buy or build menus for free. You also no longer need the boolprop cheat to place items diagonally. The traditional grid is subdivided into four smaller sections that make placement much easier. This is a huge win in my book. However, I searched the catalogs in vain for a hot tub or a diving board. It’s hard to remember those were expansion items. This is a very picky little irritant compared to an excellent base overall.

Look for my take on Sims 3 game play coming soon on Gaming Today.

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