The Sims 3 (PS3)

The Sims has finally landed it’s third edition on the Console market!

I recreate the random oddness that is SquareGo Magazine for my review.

The Sims 3

3/5
The Sims 3

Anyone who was blessed or cursed (delete as appropriate) with a little sister might know that there is a certain innate charm about a doll’s house. A little snapshot of life that takes place within the mind of the child who plays there. What transpires is a microcosm of the their hopes, dreams and ambitions. In a nutshell, this play is about watching and assisting in the lives of others, much like a benevolent God or taskmaster.  Thus we are placed in the guise of the little sister, which is precisely what the Sims is all about.  It may be billed as a ‘strategic life-simulation’ but at the end of the day, it’s a dollhouse with a bit of how’s your father and some Sylvanian Families thrown in.

How strange that it’s taken the videogame world so long to bring such an obvious format to world in the first place and even longer to realise it well on a home console. Having first appeared on the PC in it’s first incarnation some 10 years ago, the Sims series has thrived.  Finally, The Sims 3 has reached the console market, and provides an interestingly compelling experience, if not quite what people might hope for.

For the sake of critical impartiality the decision was taken early on to test the game using something we knew. How better to try out the different aspects of the game than to use ourselves? The first step was to create the Sims; using the varied but simple to master builder, three members of the SquareGo staff were digitally crafted ingame, repleate with customisable personality traits and lifetime goals.

From there a house was then furnished and the sims were sent out into the world, where they acted disturbingly like their fleshy counterparts. After some brief tutorals, a few deft commands in the menus were all that was needed to turn one into a chef and another into a local goverment official. Needless to say, the most intelligent and attractive sim was too busy retiring to the libraries and art galleries to bother with work [Yeah, sounds like you – Ed]. In the midst of all of this, friendships were being formed with neighbours and blossoming romances began to creep into the lives of the SquareGo towers crew.

You see, the beauty of The Sims 3 is that it is compulsive. Your Sims become important to you; even more so when you model them on friends and colleagues and you strive to see their lives unfold. While the PC iterations were more open ended, the console games have cleverly added a Karma point system as well as achievable life goals to give more specific direction to the game. Otherwise it’s the same game design which may not win it any fans from it’s detractors.

There are however a couple of fundemental flaws in The Sims 3 that slightly lessen the enjoyment of the game.  Despite the fluidity of the controls, this is a title that is crying out for PS Move support, and while not a major problem, it seems a curious oversight. More problematic are the soul ripping loading times between menu screens, and worse, location changes. Trying to flip between Sims at opposite ends of the town could easily lead to an unfortunate dualshock/tv-screen collision.  The final issue is the fact that some people will simply find the game relentlessly dull and pointless. It’s one of those genuine ‘Marmite’ games that really splits the audience, and indeed the SquareGo team, down the middle.

In any event, it’s a well crafted and beautiful modern dollhouse that deserves to be met and enjoyed on it’s own terms, and not just by little sisters.

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