Giant Bomb Review

42 Comments

The Sims 3 Review

4
  • MAC
  • PC

EA skillfully fleshes out the formula for The Sims with its latest iteration, bringing it closer to an actual game than the PC series has been, without diminishing what makes it so broadly appealing in the first place.


For all the ways you can tweak your sims, they still look like, well, sims.
It's difficult to be critical about The Sims in the same way you would other games. While there are certainly some fascinating and sophisticated machinations in place, The Sims has always been more sandbox than game in a traditional sense. The crazy popularity that the series has consistently experienced over the years also begs the question: Just who is a review of one of these games meant for? So, before we get any further here, let me just say this. If you liked The Sims 2, you're probably already playing The Sims 3, and loving it, because it's basically that game, but with better technology and deeper options throughout. They haven't--as is always the fear with sequels to popular games--broken The Sims. But, if The Sims has never done anything for you, or its particular brand of suburban bliss has kept you at bay, this might be the one to change your mind.

Because there are so many different ways to play The Sims, I feel like it's worth shedding some light on how I've tended to approach the series, which I suspect is somewhat atypical and maybe a little sociopathic. Generally speaking, I've always treated The Sims as more of a game than it's probably intended. I'll focus my efforts on a single sim, with the self-imposed goal of maxing out my sim's skill meters, career path, and relationship status. Interior design and playing dress-up are of little concern to me, unless it's for stuff that has a significant impact on my sim's personal growth. For this reason, I rarely expand on the modest house you start out with, unless it's to fit more functional stuff in there. I treat social interactions strictly as opportunities to get all the other sims in the neighborhood to be hopelessly infatuated with my sim. Like I said, a little sociopathic, and maybe more of a glimpse into my own psyche than I'd care to admit.

There's nothing about The Sims 3 that would stop me from playing this way, and it doesn't appear to have done anything to disrupt any other play styles you might've become accustomed to. You can still treat your sims as little automatons that you micromanage and force to behave in whatever weird, transgressive fashion you see fit. But what's most interesting to me is that, in addition to a myriad of sliders to determine what your sim looks like, part of The Sims 3 character creation process now involves giving them some personality traits of their own. There are dozens to choose from, both good and bad, as well as the gloriously broad field of grey in between. You can make your sim the apex of perfection if you so desire--an athletic, charismatic achiever who's a great kisser and handy around the house--or you can go with a barely-functional social pariah who mooches off friends, hates the outdoors, and breaks down at the first sign of adversity. Personally, I found somewhere in the middle to be the most interesting.

There are still few things more meta than watching your sim use a computer.
Many of these personality traits won't have a huge impact on the overall play experience, but they add a great deal of texture to the sims themselves. The neurotic personality trait is my personal favorite for this very reason. A neurotic sim is still perfectly functional, save for the occasional compulsion to check the pilot light, wash his or her hands repeatedly, and indulge in a brief freak-out to calm the nerves. It's funny, and there's a kernel of truth to its impact on your sim's life. There's an option to adjust the amount of autonomy your sims have, but I found it most interesting to crank it all the way up and see how my funny, neurotic couch potato behaved.

The unique combination of personality traits you choose will go on to inform both your sim's everyday and lifetime wishes. Everyday wishes will pop up on the game's menu bar as you play, and can include improving your relationship with another sim, getting a promotion at work, spending some time watching TV, or ordering a pizza. Lifetime wishes are more significant, usually concerning maxing out certain skills or professions. Fulfilling both the everyday and the lifetime wishes earn you points that you can then sink into various perks for your sim, ranging from free lunches for life at restaurants to a teleportation pad that lets you travel anywhere instantly. I feel like the wishes help provide some focus to the gameplay in The Sims 3, even if the implementation is a little contrived at times. You can only have four active everyday wishes at a time, which makes a certain amount of sense, though my hunger for points lead me to choose the wishes that were easier to fulfill rather than the ones that were potentially more interesting. Again, this might speak more about me as a player than The Sims 3 as a game.

There's better technology under the hood in The Sims 3, which makes it an incrementally better-looking game than The Sims 2, though it also allows for a more seamless world. The insides of most non-residential buildings are still a mystery, which only really seems like a significant missed opportunity when it comes to your workplace. You'll need a nine-to-five to keep the fridge full and the bills paid, and as with past entries, the specifics of your workday are still a bit of a sausage factory, though you can choose, on a day-to-day basis, whether to bust your ass, suck up to the boss, socialize with coworkers, or just take her easy, which can impact both your sim's mood at the end of the day, as well as your sim's job performance.

Some familiar faces, courtesy of The Sims 3 exchange.
Many of the other changes and additions that The Sims 3 makes are just logical extensions of what the previous games offered. One of the key new features for the interior design- and fashion-obsessed players is the "create a style" system, which you can use to cultivate a set of patterns and materials that you're fond of and easily apply it to the objects in your home and the clothes on your sim's back. EA launched an online store and an online exchange with The Sims 2, and these are better integrated and much more prominent in The Sims 3. The exchange lets you share sims you've made and items you've customized with other players, and the store lets you buy, well, pretty much anything. The store makes it harder to ignore the whole microtransaction process that EA has become awfully fond of, though the precedent for expansion and content packs for The Sims is already well-established, and there's something to be said for being able to buy a new outfit or some new furniture a la carte. The online experience in The Sims 3 also includes a video editor, which lets you cook up some machinima without any additional tools, if that's your bag.

A lot has changed in The Sims 3, but for all the technical refinements, gameplay additions, and online integration, it still scratches the same basic itch that its predecessors did, though it arguably does it with an improved effectiveness. EA has done a terrific job of listening to what the existing players wanted while also making a more inviting experience, which is an impressive balancing act indeed.
42 Comments
Posted by TiE23

Lots of fun.

Posted by dbz1995

Now this is interesting. 4 stars for Sims 3?

Edited by natural_deadhead

i love this game
lol look at sim jeff

Posted by PabloDiablo

The last picture is the best. "Jeff thinks Brad is okay"

Posted by ZeroCast

The definitive review that i was looking to make me buy this game.

Posted by natural_deadhead

Are the giantbomb crew on the exchange? I would like to add them to my collection. If anyone knows send me a msg.

Posted by TheLawnWrangler

man... Jeff's sim looks exactly like it should lol

this makes me want to buy the game more :P
great review
Posted by TheClap

My favorite part of this: Jeff thinks Brad is okay.

Posted by EndlessMike

I totally play the same way you do. As much as all the sandboxy stuff interests me I can't sacrifice my power-hungry needs for my sim to be the best in an effort to see all of it. Sometimes I'll marry my Sim and just let the other Sim go off and do whatever they want so I can experience both systems at once though.

Posted by JeffGoldblum

This review is pretty late to go up.

Posted by Mouth

It might be late, but what the hell. Great review Ryan.

Posted by Milkman

That last picture is pretty crazy.

Posted by RHCPfan24

Haha, Sim Jeff!!! This is great. A bit late of a review, Ryan, but welcome nonetheless.

Posted by CookieMonster

'Jeff thinks Brad is okay'

Posted by Jimbo

Meta would be watching Sim Ryan playing Sim Sims 3.  Deep.

Posted by Elk
Posted by ArbitraryWater

Jeff thinks Brad is ok.

Posted by Muttinus_Rump

Just one question, why is Jeff wearing trousers?

Posted by natural_deadhead

Go to the exchange and search under households and keyword giantbomb.

Posted by FoxMulder

haha "Jeff thinks Brad is okay"

Edited by spiceninja

Awesome. You used two of my own screenshots taken from my game to use in the review. That's really cool. The two I took are the Sim using the computer and the GiantBomb crew talking to each other.

Posted by Hitchenson

I've had this game for a few weeks now. I haven't played it much the past week, but it's a really fun game ...might go on it now infact.

Posted by Death_Burnout
@Elk said:
" You can download the GiantBomb crew that Ryan took a screenshot of here.

But after creating them I found that actually playing 'as' them is far too creepy.
"
i'll have you know i totally cornered that market in The Sims 2, i recreated the OTS 100th episode and posted it on the GS Live union!
Posted by SJSchmidt93

Only a month late, GB.

Posted by JJWeatherman
@Muttinus_Rump said:
" Just one question, why is Jeff wearing trousers? "
Yeah, inaccurate!   :P 

Great review as always though Ryan.
Posted by phlegms

I had totally forgotten this game  came out :S

Posted by Willy105

Those Sims of the GB staff are very good!

Posted by Elk
@Death_Burnout said:
i'll have you know i totally cornered that market in The Sims 2, i recreated the OTS 100th episode and posted it on the GS Live union! "

Madness!
Posted by Yummylee

I'd totally get this is my comp specs weren't stuck in 2001.

Posted by Media_Master

this might get me into sims

Posted by hanktherapper

I quit trying to play PC games a few years ago because every time I bought a new game, I played for an hour, got bored, then quit and never returned. I still bought Sims 3 and have to say I played it for a week begore I got bored and quit. I guess what I'm saying is that it is a good game.

Posted by Jack_Daniels

Wow! Nice use of the word machination. Had to look that one up. The more ya know, the farther you go!

Posted by Y2Ken

Haha, Ryan you play in almost exactly the same way to me. I started with a character, and worked on maxing out all his stats, unlocking all the lifetime rewards (except for the ones which stop needs from needing to be fulfilled - that seems to make things slightly too easy for my personal preference) and gettting to as high a wage as possible.

I guess it's just the gamer in us - we're so used to maxing character stats from games such as (most recently) inFamous, UFC, Prototype and so on - or, for many people, in MMORPGs like WoW. Plus we have an inbuilt desire to unlock and complete every task possible in a game. I just wish it was on PS3 so I could get trophies for it ;)

Posted by Winternet

Nice mustache Sim Brad

Posted by Kohe321

Though I have no interest what so ever for the sims, I'm tempted to try this after reading this review.

Posted by Twazzock

It's fun but now my main sim earns nearly $12,000 a day, has a huge house, has about 8 skills maxed, has had numerous kids and wives, has explored all around the town and done most activites, there's little more for me to do that will provide any sort of fun or satsifaction. That said, I got a solid 10-15 hours gameplay out of it before getting bored (it can get insanely addictive as you get into it) so overall it's a decent package. I'll definitely be revisiting once they release some expansion packs and fill it out a little.

Posted by Jared

Hmmm, I may actually need to try this down the line, seems pretty fun.

Posted by CitizenKane

I have loved the Sims series and want to bady play this game to get my fix, but I have prioritize my game purchases this summer and I'm choose NCAA Football 10 over this.  Damn you recession and your lack of open summer jobs!

Posted by Tebbit

Bob Newbie is a beautiful man.

Posted by FireSketch

Damn, Ryan. You're a pretty impressive Simodeller.
That is totally the GB crew :D

Posted by dungbootle

Jeff thinks Brad is okay.

Posted by StoffInator

I love this game. Odd being I didn't care for Sims 2 all that much. But three just looks and runs so much better and there is so much content in the game, let alone the community built stuff and the billions of expansion packs EA has put out.