I never wanted to play The Sims 3. In fact, I purposely boycotted it and sighed inwardly every time a new expansion pack was announced. I was far too attached to The Sims 2, with my challenge neighbourhoods and the houses – plus, I thought that the Sims in The Sims 3 looked weird.
I was looking through my gaming notebook the other day and realised that I’ve been playing one neighbourhood on The Sims 2 with all the expansion packs for over a year. I realised I was getting bored.
Then the Steam Summer sale happened.
‘Come and spend your money!’ it said temptingly. The Sims 3 with one expansion pack was a mere £20.00 and as soon as I set it to download I wanted it to finish quickly so I could play it right away.
Why Can’t September Come Quicker?
This all came about because I am getting PSYCHED about The Sims 4. Despite the lack of pools and toddlers. It looks wonderful, and that’s just the graphics. I think that the ‘cartoony’ look matches perfectly with the game. It reminds me of the latest animated films and I think it tunes in well with the feel and scope of the franchise. I’ve been watching all of these YouTube videos about the enw game and I realised I had missed something completely. A lot of the videos wondered what the differences between The Sims 3 and The Sims 4 would be and I started to wonder what exactly The Sims 3 was like. There was no reason not to get the game at a fraction of the price and play it until The Sims 4 comes out on September 2nd.
A Bit Apprehensive…
I started it up. The starting cinematic filled me with fear. There was just something inherently wrong with the way everything looked. To me, they looked like the plastic dolls I played with when I was younger. It made me shiver.
But the thing that really terrified me was the unavoidable presence of online features. The load screens for the game includes point-and-click picture searches that are basically an advertisement for the expansion packs. Then there’s a huge warning that I’ll be playing offline. I don’t care. But I sure did feel the pressure to sign up and log on. The Sims 2 is one of my oldest games and I didn’t have to deal with making sure my online presence existed. I feel The Sims 3 pushes it in my face. I know that I can get great custom-made content but at the moment I’m a little overwhelmed by all the basic game play changed between 2 and 3. There’s just a lot to handle.
So I started off by creating a huge family with the maximum household limit with a pet dog and a horse thrown in. I was initially baffled by Create-A-Style (it reminded me of Photoshop, which scares me half to death) but very quickly fell in love with it. I figured I don’t even need any more expansion packs because I can make everything look exactly how I want it to with this fantastic new tool.
Of course I cheated them loads of money so I could build a huge house and generally explore the game. I was impressed with the different building options though felt a little uncomfortable with the navigation of the menus. I was building this huge house but it didn’t seem quite right. I decided, then, that I would take a break from the mansion house and make a new family.
That was when I realised I couldn’t move.
It was not obvious in the slightest how to interact with the neighbourhood, how to hover over as if in a helicopter, as in the old games, easily changing views and playing different families. I felt absolutely and utterly trapped.
Does this mean I would never be able to leave this family and play another? Was I fated to control a bunch of snobs for the rest of my time on The Sims 3?
The change makes sense, allowing the neighbourhood to develop alongside your own families which makes for an interesting game. The Sims 3 is saved in different games per household. If you had a family but switched games, the family you created to live in the mansion won’t appear in another family’s neighbourhood.
‘This is so stupid!’ I shouted at the screen. I was honestly regretting buying it.
Getting into the swing of things
Luckily, I used the internet to find out that you have to do this thing called ‘Switch Households’ which is perhaps one of the most infuriating processes imaginable, load screens and clicks aside. I felt as if my movement around my world was limited and I can’t help but feel that the Sims I’ve created aren’t linked in anyway, which in some strange way is kind of disappointing. I liked to build up my own world and really feel a part of it by interacting with the neighbourhood.
As I started getting used to the game I was amazed at all the different options, and made some pretty neat Sims that looked a little like me and fellow Hex contributor/boyfriend David. Luckily, I discovered that you could change the width and shape of the head which made my Sims look less doll-like. With the shiny, new personality traits system I even made the Sims act like us and I was impressed by that.
I redecorated an existing home this time, changing the wallpapers and furniture to blue and green (our favourite colours) and discovered the joy of object rotation, which makes rooms look a lot more natural and is generally fantastic. I could feel my fingers itching as I discovered more and more and could see that I was beginning to love the game I was once determined to hate.
One week later
So far I’ve played eleven hours on The Sims 3. And I want to play so much more.
The Sims 3 manages flawlessly to deliver a decent simulation game that is completely in keeping with the rest of the series. I was glad to see old features bought over and features that appear in the base game which just make logical sense to exist there in the first place.
I still have an issue with the way the Sims look. The children are terrifying. Once I’ve gotten over playing The Sims 3 as a brand new game maybe I’ll dive into the overwhelming world of the online store and download content from The Exchange, making my game look and feel exactly how I want it to, with some sort of mod that makes children look less devilish.
I’m glad I made this purchase. I don’t know why I avoided it for so long. In fact, in just a week, in eleven hours, I know that I would miss elements of The Sims 3 if they didn’t appear in 4.
I could carry on, but I’ve got some Sims I need to feed to the Cowplant.