[Live vicariously through your sim counterpart]
I recently picked up a copy of The Sims 3 for the Xbox 360. Yes, I know what you’re thinking, “The PC version is the way to go.” However, my Netbook is the “little engine that can’t”, therefore this seemed like an obvious choice.
Almost immediately I noticed a lot of glitching that didn’t really make me too happy. Opting out of the partial hard drive install, this is based off of just playing the game from the disc. The menus struggle to load almost constantly and made me feel like I was playing on an outdated PC. Immediately you are prompted to “Create A Sim”; there didn’t seem to be an option for loading pre-made Sims. Create-A-Sim seemed to be right on with the amount of creativity normally available on a PC version, but I felt that it might be a little confusing for console players.
I got half-way through creating my first Sim before seeing that you could change the colors of most items. However, attempting to change the Sim’s eye color for example seemed to throw me into a constant loop of color selection menus. Let me explain; at first you have to specifically hit X to change the color (which I did not immediately see), then it would give you five common colors of eyes. Looking at the menu though, you will see that you can expand that further into about twenty different shades of those five colors, and once you are in that menu you can hit another button to mess with the sliding bars to create any color in existence. Not only for eye color, but for any other item on your Sim that can be a color (skin, hair, and make-up). The hair impressed me the most, as you can choose five different color points for your Sim’s hair, making a more realistic-looking person.
The colors of items and attributes are not the only things that you can mess with specifically. Much like in the PC game, you can mess with body proportions all the way from picking presets to changing ever inch of your Sim completely. Clothes and accessories work pretty much the same way; presets are available, but you can make your own colors and patterns for those clothing items.
[Match your walls! Anything’s possible!]
While your pondering what you are going to make your Sim wear every day for every occasion, you will immediately be introduced to the “item exchange” function for items. I annoyingly found out how to use it the hard way; by accidentally clicking on the item and seeing dialogue pop up almost immediately with a message of “content has been stored to device”. The only indication that you are picking a custom-made item is that it will appear in the far left. When there are no items available, that spot is occupied by the “item exchange” logo, which is essentially two hands shaking. This seemed annoying and confusing; I didn’t want to deal with it so I mostly avoided those items.
With my Sim created to perfection, I set off into the Sim world to see what it had in store. The “world” is a map of towns which get more elaborate once you choose one. I chose a random town and had the option to choose from a furnished or unfurnished home. In order to explore the game mechanics, I chose to furnish my own home. This is where the menus get a lot more annoying. The tutorials are very unhelpful, as they usually pop up at inconvenient times. Most of the time they seemed to appear after I had already figured out how to do something through trial and error. Which is where the different modes come into play. It took me twenty minutes of searching through menus to find build and buy mode. The different modes are Live, Build and Buy, Town Map, and others which are not important right now.
Build and Buy mode worked exactly how it would in previous PC versions of the Sims games; you choose an item and then choose the color. As with the clothing choosing menu, the item exchange items occupy the same spot for these menus as well. There are also options for you to customize your furnishings. Placing items in the home proved easier with a controller, and the camera (which is controlled by the thumb-sticks) made the process quick and easy!
[Nothing built in The Sims is unconventional]
After my home was lightly furnished on a heavily controlled budget, it was time for my lazy Sim to find a job. Job choosing was much easier than in past Sim’s games and the PC version of 3. Instead of cycling through the three choices and having to pick up the paper again if you want one of the first two, the jobs are all on the screen at once. This allows you to pick a job easily without having to have your Sim pick up the paper three times. It was my Sim’s day off so I thought I’d explore the town.
Once you have moved in, the town map turns into a bustling jumble of icons that are a bit annoying to look at and kind of ruin the town map screen. Some of these icons are also impossible to decipher. Also some are red and some are green. Sims have a surprising amount of places they can go. I opted to take my Sim to the park to make some friends but there were no Sims in sight, so I explored the park. Here I found that your Sim can harvest vegetables to fill their fridge with. I also found that it is extremely frustrating to cancel an action once your Sim is doing it, as your Sim will continue to do that action indefinitely until you tell them to stop (This is with low free-will).
A random Sim came wandering into the park and I struck up a conversation. This is where they made the game a lot smarter as far as Sim interaction. Sick of trying to decipher what your Sims are saying to each other? Well never fear! They have improved upon that by giving you facts about the Sim you are talking to and how these two Sims interact. Within the short conversation I was given a constant progress report on what the other Sim thought of my Sim. Usually it will say something like “Sim1 thinks Sim2 is boring.” Through the conversation I also found out that this Sim liked art, what gossip was going on in the town, and that the Sim had no sense of humor. This is great, as now you can choose appropriate actions instead of guessing what to do next.
Other town areas, such as places where Sims work, are also visitable for other reasons. Clicking on the Sports Stadium will ask me if I want to get a job there, see a sporting event, a concert, or quit my job. Clicking on a neighboring household will let me know whether or not they are home. There is a lot to see and do in this new Sims world.
Overall, the game is well worth the price if your are a PC-challenged Sim fan. The customization alone is amazing; although it may seem overwhelming to players expecting a Sims game closer to previous console versions. If your PC will run it, the PC version still trumps all others!