The lights are on
What new ideas the game brings to the table and how well old ideas are presented.
How good a game looks, taking into account any flaws such as bad collision or pop-up.
Does the game’s music and sound effects get you involved or do they make you resolve to always play with the volume down?
Basically, the controller to human interface. The less you think about the hunk of plastic in your hands, the better the playability.
Flat out, just how fun the game is to play. The most important factor in rating a game.
Both of the previous Sims games received pet-related installments, and now the inevitable has arrived for The Sims 3. The new content includes dozens of breeds of dogs and cats, as well as the ability to control the pets directly. The additions give a little more dimension to your neighborhood, but The Sims 3: Pets on consoles isn’t quite a fan’s best friend.
One of the primary appeals of Sims expansion packs is that their effects are cumulative. When you buy a new add-on, the world of your sims grows a little bit and you have access to the full spectrum of items and features. That’s how the series has worked on PC for years, but on PS3 and 360, Pets isn’t an expansion. It’s a standalone game. That’s good news for people who haven’t played The Sims 3 on console yet, but terrible news for those who have. The Sims 3 Pets doesn’t work with your previous Sims 3 saves, so you aren’t just adding pets to the lives of your sims. You’re starting over.
If you’re fine with a fresh start, you’ll find all of the mechanics that distinguished the console iterations of The Sims 3 intact. The karma powers are a hilarious way to mess with the lives of your sims, and the challenges give players a nudge toward some cool rewards without making them follow a linear storyline. The console version is still technologically inferior to the PC (I had a lot of chugging and slowdown when running a six-sim household), but it’s better than nothing for Sims enthusiasts without a computer.
Pets adds more powers and challenges, many centered on the four-legged inhabitants of the world. While that gives you a few new activities to explore, the real draw of this installment is being able to create and control your own cats and dogs. The attention to detail is impressive; an array of breeds and customization options will satisfy animal lovers, allowing them to craft an army of adorable pets. Once you’ve created them, the pets join your sims as full-fledged members of the household.
If you’re more interested in new gameplay than creating a realistic replica of your beloved family pet, don’t get your hopes up. The cats and dogs aren’t as complex as regular sims, and don’t offer the same kind of engaging options. Even though they have their own traits and wishes to fulfill, pets only have one skill to advance (digging for dogs, hunting for cats), and the ways they interact with each other and with people is pared down.
Even though the pet-related content didn’t blow me away, the saving grace of The Sims 3: Pets is that the game underneath it is still solid. All of the fun of The Sims 3 is still here – it just has an extra lackluster layer of stuff. You don’t have to create a pet if you don’t want to; you can just make regular loser and guide them through everyday life. The humor and freedom that defines the series remains intact. The interface isn’t perfect, but the functionality is impressive considering how much information you need to sift through using just a controller.
For gamers who just want a chance to make their own pretty kitty and then watch it scratch up the furniture, The Sims 3 Pets delivers. If you want a Sims experience that builds on previous installments, incorporates your progress from The Sims 3, and actually makes your simulated world more interesting…well, better luck next time.
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