Preview

The Sims 3 Preview (PS3)

The Sims can teach you a lot about a person. Over the years, many fans will have led their creations into a swimming pool, only to take the ladder away and leave them fighting for their lives in some sadistic torture. Sitting down with this upcoming console release, we were disturbed with the first objective we set ourselves. The house was already built, our family created to perfection. With a single mother looking after her two children, we had to outline our priorities. Ushering them off to school, we headed for work- only to leave early and go hunting for single men in the local town area. That's right, after ten minutes of playing The Sims 3, we were ignoring the children, breaking rules, and ready to mingle with the first handsome man that strolled past.

You never know who could turn up in this whacky title
We'd like to think not everyone would be as promiscuous as us, and certainly not as quickly. Although console versions of The Sims have always struggled to maintain the smoothness of the PC equivalent, there's attempts here to make this as accessible as possible. From our time with the game, the age old problem of not having a mouse to navigate still persists, and other niggles that simply don't arise on the PC are still apparent.

Exploring our new home was easy enough, but there's always the nagging feeling that it would be much easier away from the console. Using both sticks to navigate round our house, this isn't going to break too many barriers for those who've experienced The Sims 3 before. The usual graphical style is in place, and your creations are as wacky as ever. Expressions of confusion, happiness, and dismay litter the screen in typical fashion, as you strive to meet their endless needs. With so much going on at once, things can become difficult to manage, especially if you create a bigger family. Thankfully, to combat this as best as possible, you can easily line up a number of actions for your sims to carry out; effectively leaving them a “To-Do List” so they don't go mad without your assistance.

By far the most intriguing new feature we experienced was the Karma system. If your sims misbehave, or achieve something special, you may want to treat them appropriately. Acting as god, you have the power to turn their days into something memorable. This could be making their dreams come true, or if you've had enough of their pesky ways, you could show it to them. Needless to say, we had great fun punishing our earlier truancies. The Sims is often home to the surreal, and witnessing a set of poltergeists scare our family senseless was the perfect way to end our virtual day. Deciding to wake them up with an earthquake and a barrage of hellfire from the sky may have been a little insensitive, but hey, the option to yoink the ladder away from the swimming pool is now impossible to initiate, so we needed to come up with something tastier. Every midnight the “Hour of Reckoning” takes place, meaning your sims need to beware of strange occurrences even when they sleep.
 
Losing to the Grim Reaper at chess could have fatal consequences
One major downgrade from the PC version is that players now need to load up individual neighbourhoods and other locations. By trotting to the end of your street an arrow will appear. Simply click here to be taken to a map view, where you can choose your destination. It's easy enough, but your neighbourhood fills like it's centred on your sims only. Shrouded in darkness, there's not too much to look at outside of your walls when you're at home. Head to the city, and things don't become much more expansive.

While there's a decent array of locations to explore, actually getting round each area became frustrating after a few minutes. Moving your sim is easy, but the fluidity of the city we were in was sloppy at best. On PC, The Sims provides a cohesive, flexible experience that makes you feel like you're in the big wide world. Here, we haven't seen enough evidence that this world is going to be populated to get too excited. Shops and other buildings look nice from afar, but what good is that if they become empty the closer you get to them? There's still time for this to be ironed out, but as always, the console version of this revered franchise has to dumb things down to even stand a chance of competing alongside it's older brother.
 
Daryl forgot to bring his rape alarm...
Right now, The Sims 3 is looking average in console form. Interesting tweaks have been made to the set-up of the game, but the fundamentals are still a problem away from the PC. The world doesn't breathe as easily, and manoeuvring around feels like shackles have been placed round the players feet. This problem has followed The Sims on console for years now, and without a huge overhaul, we think it could never reach its potential on this market. It seems to us that a tad of experimentation is needed by EA, or else The Sims 3 will only ever produce a below-par rendition of a song already sung better somewhere else.

Most Anticipated Feature: The Karma System looks to break up the monotony of everyday life with something a little special.

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