The Sims 3 was released to the masses today (note: it is no longer today) and being the good little Sims whore that I am, I went to my local pixel merchant and picked up my copy. I am slightly surprised with myself because I have played through both sequels and every lame Stuff and Expansion pack they have crammed down my eager gullet, yet here I am, all hot and bothered to play the third iteration of this game. Having not played the game a great deal since I picked it up a few hours ago, I can’t say this article is a complete review of The Sims 3, more so a summary of my initial impressions of the game.
Slow install times for computer games are the bane of my existence. Watching that progress bar creep and lurch across the screen is like having to make out and do the whole foreplay thing before sex…just annoying. The Sims 3 installs slower than the second coming of Christ. On my brand new Macbook Pro this thing took over half an hour to install. After the install came the first patch. Is it just me or does anyone else get that uneasy feeling when a game needs patching the second you install it? This was especially bothersome since the game was delayed. If you are going to delay a game, why don’t you build the patch into the thing BEFORE you ship it? On top of the fact I had to patch the game, the patch also took ten minutes to get applied. Now I could finally play the damned game.
Oh wait, I was wrong. Upon visiting the Sims 3 website while installing the patch, I found I could download and install a new town as an add-on to the game. Click click click…town is downloading and installing.
Ten minutes later.
Sweet lord I can finally play the game!
If there is one thing I have learned from my years as an embittered video game elitist it is to set the bar so low for a game, you can’t help but to be impressed by it. Regardless of how amazing the intro is and all of the teaser trailers are, the game is going to suck. Despite the game developers having figured out a way to service you sexually through the game while you play it, the game is still going to suck…and not in that way.
With this train of thought cycling through my consciousness, I started playing The Sims 3. The intro is what you would expect, as is the music. The one thing I noticed is minuscule clipping in the video. This is bad because like I said earlier, I am on a brand spankin’ new Macbook Pro with a 9600GT video card sporting 512 megs of RAM. This is the best Apple is pushing out and if this is what the game is going to be, this is going to be pretty horrid.
Fortunately for me, the intro was the only thing that was very clippy, the rest of the game is performing nicely. The Sims look slightly different from how they do in the previous Sims titles – they look a tad more cutesy. One thing about my relationship with the Sims is that the game must emulate my reality. What this means is that my friends, family, and even myself are represented in the game as accurately as possible from their looks to their behaviors. In the past, I have been able to create Sims that had a very similar likeness to everyone I knew…except me. I have never been able to create me in a way that I was happy with, until today. If there is one positive I can say about Sims 3 so far it is that the character creation is much more streamlined and detailed. Sim Tyson actually looks like me!
Another cool feature to note is that players can now create evil Sims. I am slightly torn by this addition because I always liked creating happy Sims and then making them do horribly despicable acts like trapping their ex-wives in walls or making their kids take a shower and then erecting a slab of drywall in front of the shower door so the child is soaked to death. Not that I have done any of these things, I just giggle when others do. Either way, evil Sims are now a purposeful inclusion into the game. Now I need to create Monty Burns.
Now that I have played the Sims 3 for a few minutes, I’ve noticed some gaping holes throughout the game. And where there are gaping holes, there are future expansion packs. Dammit. I knew the game would be like this but I hoped, a very small hope, that the game wouldn’t feel…lacking. There are no pets, no gardens, a lot of the entertainment stuff is gone, my gothic stuff is pretty much non-existent, and I am not seeing any weather effects. It looks like EA has decided to completely fuck every Sims fan in the ass with the fat end of a wiffle ball bat.
If I were to guess based on past expansions to the game, I would say we are in for at least five new ones. Let’s see…that is about $150 more bucks down the drain for shit that I already had in the previous games. I knew it was going to be this way. Why am I such a Sims whore?!
At this point, I am gingerly exiting out of the game. Hands trembling with anger. I can’t escape the feeling that I have been duped. The worst part is that I know I will buy the new expansions when they arrive. Knowing EA, I actually half expected them to announce the first two expansions at E3 immediately after they gave the initial preview of the core game. I guess they still have three days as of writing this (note: they now have zero days).
Lack of familiar objects and the presence of gaping holes in the game play aside, this new core Sims game is pretty nifty. It is more of a town simulator than a mere family simulator, and I like that. There are also lots of new personality traits that I think will lead to some fun interactions. This game is a great base on which to build, I just wish they didn’t have to build on to it so much. And why in the world did they have to get rid of the gardening aspect of the game? That was my favorite part of Sims 2 and now its gone. Damn my virtual green thumb.
Now let’s put the Sims 3 aside for the moment and talk a bit about the Sims 3 website. I am going to try to remain calm here, I am going to take nice deep breaths and hold them in for a three count. I am going to soothingly tweak my nipples.
Ahh…the hell with it, the Sims 3 website and all that it entails make me want to bayonet babies and roast them on a spit. Just when I thought EA could stoop no lower in dicking with my simple Simming pleasures they go and charge me 75 cents for every optional piece of clothing available for the game and a whole buck for any building add-on for house construction. If I want a furniture set, that is $1.50!
The thing that gets me is that the items are, for the most part, very well done and the user created stuff will probably not be better than the Sims 3 website offerings. To make matters worse, my local Best Buy was having a special on point cards to spend at the Sims 3 store and I spent $10 to get $20 worth of Sims Points to blow on useless items I will never ever need. Why am I such a Sims whore?!
After activating my point cards and cooling off for a bit, I realized that there are things off the Sims 3 website that I will drop points (aka money) on. As it turns out, EA did a very sneaky and not-at-all-like-the-EA-that-I-love thing. They must have looked at the common Sims objects that every Sims player uses regularly and thought it would be funny to pop a few of them out of the base game and then turn around a sell them on the website.
One such example is the art easel; every Sims player I know uses that as a quick way to boost Creativity points as well as make some fast cash by selling the artwork when your Sim finishes a painting. Now, if I ever want to use it again, it looks like I am paying for it. Or I just haven’t found it in the game yet and that is just a slightly more amazing looking one than the original in the game. Either way, lame.
I am getting kind of pissed off just pounding out this quasi-review so I am just going to briefly summarize my feelings for the Sims 3. If you have never played a Sims game before, now is a good time to start. The core game play is an improvement over its predecessors and there are some cool features that have been added. Unfortunately for me, I have played this game for the better part of ten years and can’t help but feel like I am reliving a particular scene from Deliverance. Squeal! Squeeaall!
Another thing to note is that the game is slightly buggy. It could just be the Mac version of the game but the forums are filled with people who experience constant crashes. I have not experienced too much of this, though OS X is not a fan of whatever flavor of Flash the game’s launch menu uses and it has hung up on me a couple of times. I give EA credit for developing the PC and Mac version of the game simultaneously and in-house but come on, if you are going to make a game and then delay it, work this shit out before you release it! Ok, fuck it. I am done.