The Sims 3
We Have Ah uncomfortable relationship with The Sims here at PC. We might occasionally do a 'Sims-free' Top 20 chart or give a risible expansion pack such as The Sims 2: H&M Fashion Stuff a well-deserved Dump award, but we also thoroughly enjoyed mucking about with toilet training our Sims in a Jackass feature and will heap praise and a 72% score upon a genuinely excellent addition to the franchise such as The Sims 2: Open for Business. Maybe our schizophrenic behaviour is because we're gaming snobs, unable to appreciate the fact that within our overwhelmingly male hobby, nearly 60 per cent of Sims players are female, and convinced that this isn't a proper game like World of Warcraft or Crysis. Or maybe it's because of the endless chartclogging expansion packs - Teen Stuff, Makin'Magic, University et al - that for us, sum up everything that is bad and cynical about the gaming industry.
More likely, it's both of the above, and the fact that perhaps, after all, there is a great game here - created by game visionary Will Wright - that has become a worldwide phenomenon, shifting close to 100 million units.
So while The Sims 3 will never be a PC cover game, you can be sure we'll be keeping an eye on it - especially as the EA development team are apparently taking tips from Wright's forthcoming opus Spore, and are promising more features to appeal to us so-called hardcore PC gamers.
The first of these new additions will be a more open, seamless world for your Sims to inhabit Rather than being trapped in a pit of your own virtual filth, with only a few token public areas (shops, parks and the like), you'll now be able to wander across the lawn and have a peep through your next-door neighbour's window. You'll be able tb freely wander through the Sims' town, see other Sims walking around greeting each other in Simlish (the game's gibberish language), driving cars, shopping, hanging round on street corners scaring old Sims - a real-time virtual settlement directly around your Sims' homes.
However, The Sims 3 won't be revisiting the failed Sims Online MMO project of a few years back. Instead of multiplayer, EA will be pushing the community side of the game, with features such as a Facebook-style social networking service. Here, you'll be able to upload Sims to a homepage, where friends and other players can download them into their own towns.
Another major complaint about The Sims was the 'hamster cage' mentality of the previous games - that you spend too much time making sure your Sims don't piss their pants rather than evolving their characters.
The Sims 3 is much lower maintenance, removing the previous games' mood bars, so rather than micro-managing your small- bladdered chum in the morning as he/she juggles a shower, breakfast and wee-wees, there'll be a simple bubble that pops up stating that your Sim is hungry, and with a deft click, all the tasks will be taken care of. Long-standing features such as the ability of your Sims to work hard for their money will return, and they'll have a range of jobs they can do to bring in the cash.
The major nods to the role-playing genre continue with the new inventory system, which allows you to, for example, pick apples and cook them rather than pop down your local Sim shop (it's bound to be a WalMart rather than a CostCutters) and buying a ready-made pie. Plus, if your Sim gets a kiss from his girlfriend, or is given a present for example, you'll see an icon called a 'moodiet' - a classic MMO buff -to indicate your Sim's state of mind after an important event.
Further RPG elements include 'traits', which are simple one-word descriptors that can be applied to your Sims, such as genius, grumpy, frugal and evil. Six or so can be assigned to the little Al folks; so if your Sim is an insensitive, kleptomaniac, outdoors type of person, then watch your wallet if you go out jogging. On the reverse side, that particular Sim would feel happiest when shouting abuse and stealing personal property on a fun run. Probably. Anyway, if you can't be arsed with all that charactercreation stuff, you can also pick from a selection of pre-configured personalities -although angry Northern games journalist has yet to be confirmed.
Given that EA have ambitions to create a more fun, open 'sandbox' kind of game, rather than a domestic boredom simulator, The Sims3coM be surprisingly great. At this stage, however, the only thing we can guarantee with certainty is that the add-on packs are already being planned.
Download The Sims 3
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP