Virtual life is filled with ups and downs.
The Sims games are a strange bunch. Many gamers out there find the lack of focus and open-ended nature of the games to be pointless. Yet there are so many other gamers, myself included, that get a little bit too excited at the prospect of a new Stuff Pack that offers a new couch and a fish tank. But even with my never-ending enthusiasm for The Sims games, I approached this 3DS version with a certain amount of trepidation. I was interested in seeing what new functions the 3DS could bring to the game, including a 3D effect that should be perfectly suited to viewing virtual life. But at the same time I was aware that corners would have to be cut and fat would have to be trimmed to fit this game into a handheld.
There must be very few gamers out there who have yet to experience The Sims, but for those that live under rocks and never see the light of day, here’s a quick run down of the game. The player gets to create a virtual persona, or Sim, and then has to go about daily life, trying to keep the Sim healthy and fulfilled, until the Sim dies. That is it in a nut shell. You create every aspect of your Sim, from looks, haircut, clothing, body shape… even eye colour. You then give the Sim traits that dictate, at their most simple, how the Sim will act if you just leave them to get on with life. This is usually not the best idea, as they tend to be pretty hopeless to begin with. You then buy a house, which you can furnish with nice stuff bought with the Simoleons that you earn from the job that you take. Make sure that your Sim eats, goes to the bathroom, washes and advances themselves through various means, so as to get that promotion and earn more Simoleons to buy better stuff. Make friends with other Sims that you find in public areas to prevent your Sim from getting lonely and achieve small goals to save up points to buy that money tree that you desperately need. Seriously, I am only scratching the surface of the different things that the player can do with their Sim. It is a time management game that will test you to your limits if you want to succeed.
With that out of the way, what can you expect from The Sims 3 on 3DS? Well, less is a good way to describe it. This is apparent straight away as the player is only able to create one Sim rather than the multi-generational families that I run on the PC version. This could make for a pretty lonely existence, were it not for the availability of neighbours and people wandering the public areas. The town is another place where things have been downsized, with only two places of note to visit – a park and a shopping centre. The Karma powers that were introduced in the console versions of The Sims 3 make an appearance, albeit in a limited manner. These powers enable the player to reward or punish their Sim in a “godly” fashion. On the 3DS there are only three powers available; electrocution, earthquake and butterflies. These are each activated using a different method, such as shaking the 3DS to create an earthquake, which is kind of cool.
With all of this minimising, surely there must be some new content added? Well, aside from the 3D effect, which I will discuss in a minute, there is the StreetPass function which allows the player to trade Sims with fellow players as they walk the streets. These newly found Sims will then show up in and around town in the game. The other new function of note is the ability to scan your face and import it into your newly created Sim. A cool idea, I think you will agree. But in practice it is not quite so impressive. I have yet to see a scan-faced Sim that looks anything like its real-life counterpart. Admittedly, the player can go into the editor and tweak the face to make it more like it should, but overall the face scanning is a bit of a let down.
Another let down is the way the game looks and controls. I don’t think I was expecting miracles, but the game really does not look great. There are some frame rate issues that make everything appear a touch sticky. The controls are cramped and awkward to use, with the camera being controlled through the touch screen, making interacting with objects a trial.
Which is only made worse by the 3D effect being switched on. I can see the potential of playing Sims in 3D and I am sure that when a proper 3D version of the game comes out it will be incredibly impressive. But this time around it just makes the games unimpressive graphics look even worse.
When all is said and done, people will still be wanting some Sim action on their new handheld. The game manages that and Sim lovers everywhere will be able to overlook the games shortcomings to get their portable Sim fix. Perhaps the biggest dilemma facing Sims fans will be if they should purchase this 3DS version and enjoy the new features, or just drop in the DS version and experience a slightly better game? Are the new features worth the purchase? Not really, but if you are a big enough Sims fan, it doesn’t really matter, does it?
In The Sims 3 for 3DS, having the 3D effect turned on really doesn’t do the game any favours. Keep it turned off.