There are very few games that I’ve played that reeled me in. And there are even fewer games that made me miss both my dinner and my favourite TV show. Yes, The Sims 3 made me miss both of those things on my first day of playing it. And even after missing them, I wasn’t mad, but still continued to play it! I heard, or rather read, about The Sims in a magazine, the idea of which enthralled me. And when I got the game, I fell in love with the series. So naturally when EA announced The Sims 3, I was pretty much excited. And after having played this game for about 3 days, I feel my investment was not a total waste. The game was touted as an evolution of the Sims franchise, allowing for even more freedom and a lived in and a believable society. New features like following your Sims everywhere, customizing everything and assignments of traits to create truly unique individuals were also touted.
For the uninitiated, The Sims series is, like its fore-father, the SimCity Series, a Strategy or God playing hybrid but with a lot more focus. It’s a people simulator. But don’t let the small scale fool you, as it happens managing people can be quite bit challenging than managing a city. Like all of us, these tiny computer people, or Sims, have varying needs, habits and traits. They need to regularly clean themselves, have proper food and avoid over-eating, go to the bathroom as and when needed, hunt for jobs and maintain a social standing. And like the real world, if the Sim has a family depending on it looks after them, like paying proper attention to the wife/husband and children and fulfills their wishes. Not only that, new parents need to even wake up in the middle of the night to change Junior’s diapers! Add to that a finite lifetime, in which they can even meet untimely death, and a lot more things, and you have a quite complex and engrossing, and not to mention unique game genre. You can choose to be as generous and make a model sim, or simply play the devil and reduce your sim to a hapless loser! But beware, if you can’t manage the variable properly, both you and your sim would be ripping your hair off!
That said, the Sims 2 was the first 3D game in the series and was a huge success, spawning many expansion packs and a loyal fan-following. So, The Sims 3 had to be something better than that. Let’s see if it succeeds.
The first thing you notice about The Sims 3 (TS3) is the almost, if not complete, lack of loading screens. Save for the game loading screen and the save game loading screens, there is absolutely no loading screen interruptions. Maybe the lack of loading screen has become a style, as most games tout such a feature anyway. And I for one am grateful that TS3 team decided to go in with the flow in this field. The lack of loading screen really keeps the game flowing smoothly. While the predecessor had a loading screen for almost every task that involved leaving your lot’s compound, this game is seamless. Whether you want to just go Downtown to grab some grub or go for a little grocery shopping, there isn’t a single loading screen in between. You Sim just hails in a cab and you can follow the cab as it travels through the neighborhood! And if you can afford it, your Sims can drive themselves given that they have transportation medium, which ranges from Cars to even Bi-Cycles and a Sims 3 Exclusive Scooter too!
The next thing that you notice is how much cleaner the interface has become. It’s as if the game guides you in the right direction and instills a sense that you can’t go wrong. The launcher, which also doubles as a content manager auto-logs-in if you are connected. There is a big blue play symbol that starts the main game. For new games you choose a neighborhood and click the check-mark. After which you can choose to create a sim or move in into a pre-made lot. Selecting the family tells you the necessary information as well the level of difficulty. And if you already have a game saved, then the start-up interface changes to a list of the saved lots. From here you select the game you want to move in and on clicking the check mark, loads the selected game. No need for getting into the neighborhood every time and clicking on the house to load your game. And all the while, in TS3, you have these helpful pop-ups that prompts you and displays the relative Lessons, which in itself is quite vast and is kind of an in-game manual, detailing almost every aspect of the game.
Create A Sim
This change seems to have crept into every nook and corner of the game. Right after you drop into Create a Sim, you’ll notice that the interface has been completely redesigned. The slider controls for the advanced tweaking like fine-tuning the sims has been condensed into an advanced setting, with the default view being a multitude of pre-made body shapes a components that you can choose. You can always opt-for a random part too, if you’re not feeling like customizing. And if you peek into the advance settings, you can see that, that too has been redesigned. The sliders are grouped into different region of the face, which can be accessed by clicking the specific dots on the face, shown under the advanced settings.
Similarly, the clothing sections have been redesigned to include Tops, Bottoms and Sets for each category, with additional accessories too. After you’ve set the cloths, but think that the shoe doesn’t exactly match, you can fire up the Create-A-Style mode, another touted feature of the game. Through this, you can absolutely mix and match any style to create that perfect blend. Want your Sims to wear a Brick patterned shirt? Why not! (No matter how weird it looks!) Just get a shirt and enter Create-A-Style and select the Brick pattern. And it doesn’t stop there; you can customize each of the style, drag it onto different object (perhaps to create that perfect camouflage) and even save them and share them on the sim community! The style itself can have multiple patterns associated and each can be differently colored, by specifying the tone and the color of it. Also for those extreme enthusiasts, there’s even the option for viewing and entering in RGB numbers too. The associated Lesson does a pretty good job in teaching the basics about it. And the best part, you can use this tool absolutely anywhere in the game, be it your furniture or even the walls. Everything can be customized.
Being done with the main sim, it’s now time for setting the characteristics of Sims. And this is where one of TS3’s main attractions comes into play: Traits. Each Sims can have up to 5 traits assigned to them from a huge pool of 63 traits. So, you can virtually make the most well natured, world-leading, Utopia-founding sim or if you’re feeling that devilish, then you can even make an Evil mad scientist! These traits cover almost all of the traits that you might think of, from Kleptomaniacs to even plain unlucky sims. These traits are not for just the cosmetics purposes, each of those traits have effect on how the sim interacts or how the game reacts. Like for example, ambitious Sims will be able to get promotions faster, being ambitious, while loner sims can stay at home and doesn’t need to socialize as often as others, and thus even work from home. After you’ve chosen your desired traits, you get a selection of career tracks’ Lifetime wish (more on this later). Next you choose your favorite music and food and color and you’re done with your sim.
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Updated 22 May, 2013, 9:53 am IST
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