The Sims 3
Hoping to build upon the massive success of the PC franchise, EA is bringing their most recent Sims title to consoles this fall. The Sims 3 quickly became the most successful PC launch in EA’s history when it released last summer, leaving big shoes to fill for its console brethren.
We had a chance to play a PlayStation 3 build of the game and it’s immediately obvious that the core functionality of the game remains unchanged. And for good reason, considering the game’s success. As expected, you return to suburbia and create unique Sims, tailor their personalities to your liking, help fulfill their short-term desires and lifelong goals, and guide them in their interactions with neighbors, coworkers, and romantic interests.
Noteworthy additions to the game include the new Karma mechanic, which gives you immediate gratification for both good and evil deeds, the effects of each boost lasting several hours. You can use “Get Lucky” to give your Sim an advantage in their love life, career, and even increase your chances of finding rare items. “Giant Jackpot” drops money from the sky, and “Divine Intervention” brings back a family member from the grave. My personal favorite is “Super Satisfy,” which maxes out all the needs of your Sim at once, letting them power through the night or an unintentional fasting session with the best of moods. Conversely, if you’ve got an enemy lurking or simply want to spice things up, evil Karma powers such as “Cosmic Curse” reduces all of a Sim's needs to zero. “Quake Maker” summons a localized earthquake that breaks belongings and appliances, and “Poltergeists” scare Sims with an unexpected haunting.
The problem with Karma is that what goes around comes around. The Karma system is essentially a gamble with every use. The more you trade Karma for good happenings in your Sim’s life, the more likely something bad will befall them. I used the super Satisfy boost several times in order to keep my Sim up all night reading and learning new skills, only to be woken up the following evening by an intense rumbling that broke pipes in both my bath and sink. I had to call a repair man as a result, but the cost was only 100 Simoleons, a fair price considering the workload I finished. At least I was smart enough to level up my handiness skills before using that Karma power again.
Karma points are accumulated every night at midnight and are rewarded for fulfilling wishes. Often Karma powers must be unlocked by completing challenges. Challenges – personal, career oriented, or otherwise – are used to unlock tangible rewards and trophies, too. Completing a challenge gives your Sim Challenge Points, which can be exchanged for purchase in the Challenge Shop. Here you can access Karma powers, new outfits, household objects, and more. Some challenges are simple. “Go Llamas” rewards you for attending a game at the stadium. Others take more time, such as “Wish-Monger,” which dishes out a significant amount of points for completing 50 wishes. “20 Fingers and 20 Toes” requires you to have twins to nab the 50 challenge points. These challenges can be shared with your friends on Facebook and Twitter for bragging rights.
Aside from other small tweaks or content additions, the largest change – and adjustment – in the console edition of The Sims 3 is the control scheme. At first, playing on a controller feels slightly restrictive, but EA has done a fantastic job of making navigation as organic as possible without a mouse and keyboard. The d-pad is used to play, pause, and speed up time, and can be modified by holding L2 to maneuver between levels in a building. Pressing circle will scroll you through your current action queue, where you can manage your current tasks. Clicking the left stick automatically highlights your Sim, making it easy to access their cell phone, change their outfit, or dig through their inventory. Square opens the most important menu in live mode, where you can see expanded information like the status of your relationships, current wishes and opportunities, career goals, skill breakdowns, and more.
Navigating with the analog sticks isn’t hard, and from a personal perspective, I find moving the camera and zooming in this manner much more organic. Selecting objects isn’t as precise, but a menu will pop up if you select an area with several items in close proximity to ensure you are interacting with the desired item. Landsculpting, building and buying, and navigating the town map are easy and intuitive, too.
At this point, it seems pretty safe to say that if you enjoyed the PC or Mac version of The Sims 3, the console edition will satisfy if you deem the bonus features worthy of a $59.99 admission ticket. If you haven’t picked up the title at all yet, this seems the perfect opportunity. The Sims 3 hits the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Wii and Nintendo DS October 26. Look out for our review later this month.