Sims 3 – Review Update
Posted by Jackie Judge on 8/19/09
Release Date:June 02, 2009
Summary:Sims 3 is one truly large game, and I applaud EA games for winnowing down their game for the iPhone, and redeveloping and re-managing it in a fresh and creative way.
Back in June, I attempted to review Sims 3 and it simply wouldn’t work on my iPhone – it worked for several moments, crashed, and refused to work thereafter. I was a bit miffed, particularly since I absolutely love all the Sims games, pledge undying allegiance to EA Games, spent Spring break sophomore year of college in a dark room, nose stuck to the computer screen playing Sims and living vicariously through my digital dolls. I have no qualms about openly admitting to this.
Thankfully, in some bizarre, magical twist, once I downloaded the 3.0 upgrade for my iPhone, Sims 3 worked! I couldn’t believe it, and best of all, in my many hours playing with it, tinkering with it, sticking my nose to the screen and laughing uproariously at my character the sleaze jumping into yet another bed with a cloud of tumbling limbs and ponytails, I can attest to its lack of crashing. I wish I could explain its magical reemergence, but I’ll just boil it down to the similar mystery of computers crashing.
As I mentioned in my previous review, Sims 3 is one truly large game, and I applaud EA games for winnowing down their game for the iPhone, and redeveloping and re-managing it in a fresh and creative way (I’ll give some props to EA, they’re definitely not lacking in the creativity department). Obviously, the game in its entirety could not be translated verbatim to the iPhone, and anyone expecting as much is surely to be disappointed. The game is much more simplistic, with less variety in character customization, building, and some of the skill sets. However, to compensate for these sacrifices, EA Games either gives just enough variety to satiate, or else finagles a new angle on the original feature (e.g. rather than your Sim reading or experimenting in the kitchen to learn how to cook, he must purchase recipes).
To start the game you first must customize your character, as in the original game. For efficiency, EA Games doesn’t include facial characteristics , weight changes, and a myriad variety of clothing and hair styles (the computer version of Sims 3 is nearly limitless in its ability to physically morph your character, whether that be cheekbones, eye shape, nose shape, chin and jawbone shape, etc). Despite these narrower options, you still feel like you’re creating your own individual Sim – even if all the women have beautiful almond shaped eyes, slim physiques, the ability to wear shorts without abandon, and all the men have the enviable V-shaped, slender but fit build, with superbly masculine square jawline. After all, what would Sims be without exaggerating our cultural representation of attractiveness?
I feel among Sims players there are two unavoidable things that happen: you create a Sim likeness of yourself, and you create one that is so absolutely outrageous it’s the antithesis of who you are, or – dare I say – the kind of person you tend to admire. The first Sim I made was definitely a likeness of myself (in the PC version, the resemblance in both physicality and personality was so uncanny that playing with Sim Jackie became a little awkward – she had more friends than I did, and a better sex life), with her brunette hair in a ponytail, and green eyes. Only the wardrobe didn’t match – I can’t remember a single time I’ve worn converse shoes with striped socks and denim shorts (how very hipster of Sim Jackie). In the PC version I could easily make my Sim resemble myself in personality to fairly minute details, or whatever personality I wanted, and they would each be vastly different. For Sims 3 on the iPhone, they pared down the personalities to 6 categories, including Jack-of-All-Trades, Nice Girl, Jerk, Sleaze, Power Seeker, and Maniac. Then, as in the original, you may select 5 personality traits, some being shy, conversationalist, modest, vain, easily bored, active, couch potato, genius, absent-minded and more. After choosing your Sims core personality and extra quirks, all you have to do is name your Sim and you’re on your way to joining the Sim universe.
You start off in a quaint brick house, with all the usual amenities, except, strangely, a stove. Unlike in the PC version, you cannot drop down the house walls permanently, leaving only the house outline, nor can you set them up permanently; the walls are always in the cut-out setting, where depending on the angle you see, certain walls are lowered to prevent your view from being obstructed. Build mode is the same as in the game, just with few items to choose from (categories include kitchen, living room, bathroom, lighting, electronics, and plants but no outdoor items), and rather than rotating objects as you buy them, to properly land, you instead choose a highlighted tile – i.e. an available spot to put the item, very clever and helpful – and the object appears there, often facing the opposite direction in which you had planned it, forcing you to tap the “move/sell” button and reorient the object. This is just small drawback, and isn’t too much of an inconvenience.
Changing the perspective is very intuitive, and EA Games took full advantage of the iPhone intuitive user interface to accomplish such. Zoom in and out using the bar at the right side, move the screen by dragging a single finger across the screen, and to change the viewing angle (above, rotated) use two fingers and scrunch them in and out and around. I had no problems is quickly and efficiently rotating the camera and zooming for the best possible playing experience.
One of the beautiful things about sims is their autonomy, their ability to seek entertainment, food, any of those mechanical things that drive humans, and the iPhone version doesn’t disappoint. Getting sims together is usually a guaranteed laugh. As before, you can just sit back and let things happen if you prefer, and the AI does a good job with automated behavior; sims will act in ways remarkably true to the personality that you’ve established for them. But directing social encounters often yields even more hysterical results, and your sims’ traits allow you to direct conversations more easily than before. There’s a wider array of conversation topics when meeting up with others, and you’ll want to play around with all of them just to see how your friends react. Try jumping into a romantic interest’s arms – he may just refuse to catch you. Kiss another sim in front of your husband and watch the slaps ensue. Or generate your own sadistic amusement by denying your sims the use of a toilet, or putting them in a room without doors. Watching the expressive animations and listening to the dramatic vocal inflections is always a delight, whether it’s the man of the house throwing a tantrum because there are rotting leftovers in the fridge, or something else. That’s why the option to turn off this ability always seemed like turning off a major component of the game for me. They’re not directionless robots! You’re supposed to guide them! Your sims desires are are the same for the iPhone app as they were in the PC version: hunger, energy, bladder, hygiene, social, fun. Perform activities in the different categories and your sims’ desires will be satiated.
For added interactivity in a game where EA Games pared down a lot of what the game originally had to offer, EA has a new feature, that of your sims having “wishes” they want to have fulfilled, such as gaining a skill point at fishing, planting a tomato garden, etc. These wishes are locked in on the bottom right of your navigation bar, and you may have up to five at a time; but don’t worry, you don’t have to accept your sim’s every wish, as hardly any of us in life fulfill all our wishes, anyway. Tinkering with these wishes is a great part of this game, and if you faithfully accomplish all of them, a new profession, that of a “criminal,” is unlocked. Perhaps in the Sim world, criminals are simply the luckiest in getting their wishes across.
Fulfilling wishes is a great way to discover new features of Sims 3. To plant a vegetable garden, you must purchase fertilizer, seeds, and a watering can from the hobby store downtown, and then faithfully tend to your garden. I especially enjoyed learning how to fish, as you mimic your Sim’s jerking of the line when a fish bites by jerking your iPhone. It’s very easy and very fun.
However, I wasn’t terribly impressed with the cooking feature in this Sims. Unlike in the PC version, you cannot learn recipes simply by reading or experimenting on the stovetop – you must purchase new recipes at the Corsican Bistro, because apparently Foodie-ism is rampant in the Sims world, and self-taught cooking is looked down upon. Shaking your iPhone to mimic stirring the pot and prevent the contents from boiling over or burning ends up being cumbersome, especially when prior you have to purchase all the ingredients necessary for the recipe. I appreciate the thoroughness of this, and it’s a good idea in principle, but when acted upon it gets a little tedious.
The Corsican Bistro and Hobby Shop are both located in the Town area, which thankfully, isn’t choppy, save for a few jerks here and there that usually happen in the PC version, too. Here your sim can go to shops, head to work, or visit other sims’ residences. If you see another sim strolling on the sidewalk, enjoying the lake or simply getting some fresh air, be sure to strike up a conversation and rake up your social quota and skills. When walking around town, for ease of the game, your sim practically sprints, hurdles himself toward the destination; it’s a little odd to watch, but otherwise we’d all be waiting patiently, then not so patiently, for our sim to stroll, meander slowly and thoughtfully to his prescribed destination. To return home, zoom out and tap on your house or select the home icon from the status menu.
It’s just too unfortunate that, unlike in the PC version, your sim cannot actually go inside the shops. Instead, a bar pops up to the side relaying the purchasing options you have, whether they’re food, gear, or recipes, depending on where you shop. I love the Quikmart and was impressed by the variety in food your Sim can now eat. Vegetables are available in abundance – a sign, I guess, that our Sims are healthier than before, with no pizzas and burgers in sight – as well as snapper, trout, chicken, ham, steak, salmon, and catfish even. Catfish! I don’t even have catfish at my local markets. The hobby shop is nearly as extensive, allowing you to buy repair kits (helpful for those home repairs, darn those showers always seem to break), fishing kits (helpful for fulfilling that wish), watering cans, and fertilizer for growing your own vegetables (how very progressive).
But hold on, before you embark on a spending spree, get a job. You have a career choice in Biology, Politics, Business and Cuisine, each with their varying promotion levels. Having been a chef by trade for awhile myself, I always like the Cuisine route (they have the best digital uniform, anyway).
Given the freedom of home and town, the better-than-expected visuals, and the fresh spins off the original game, Sims 3 for the iPhone was obviously created with full seriousness by EA Games, they successfully compartmentalizing the game for the mobile platform, without losing any of the humor or charm, while managing to expand on some original features. And hey, it may even be better than the PC version because without all the extra details, frills and thrills of parenthood, physical customizations, and more, this iPhone version will make you giggle without taking up too much of your time. I seriously recommend this game for any fan of the Sims franchise.
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