(3DS)

The Sims 3 (3DS)

Game Review

The Sims 3 Review

Europe PAL Version

Posted by Jamie O'Neill

My name is Hurl

Ever since David Crane and Richard Gold created Little Computer People for 8-bit computers in 1985, gamers have been fascinated with life simulation games, as demonstrated by the huge sales success of The Sims series. However, The Sims is also a series that has suffered from 'content filtering', as the PC experience has been watered down for consoles and diluted even more for the handheld versions. The Sims 3 on DS partially rectified this by transitioning from the structured mission formula of The Sims 2 into more open-ended gameplay, so the 3DS launch of The Sims 3 is perfectly placed to pick up its predecessor's baton and expand upon the foundations of a decent DS game.

Consider that baton well and truly dropped, as The Sims 3 on 3DS is an unfinished mess of a game and it is surprising that EA Redwood Shores' testers did not pick up on such blatant faults. Then again, the cynics amongst you may suggest that EA rushed this game out to grab some early 3DS launch sales. The frame rate is inconsistent and the top-screen animation can lock up completely, for example our Sim became fixed in mid-air jog as he was exercising on a running machine.

However, the core Sims gameplay is largely intact and it is still fairly compulsive to be in control of the life of a small computer person residing in the peaceful town of River's Bend. There is a focus upon directing your Sim's achievements towards accomplishing a 'Lifetime Wish', however it is not designed to be a game in which you aim to complete it. There are stats that you can grind towards based on six different skills (Guitar, Cooking, Athletic, Logic, Handiness and Charisma), but this game is most enjoyable when you use it to build the story of a life. It also becomes far more interesting when your Sim gets married, as you are able to juggle managing the lives of two Sims in one household, although despite lavishing our partner with love and compliments she still cheated on our Sim shortly after the wedding. C'est la vie.

In what may be a nod towards real life, the gameplay becomes repetitive as you not only juggle your Sim's everyday wishes, but manage their mood through Moodlets, which often results in a large amount of repeated busy work. These revolve around feeding your Sim regularly, making friends, building relationships, housework, looking after them when they are sick, DIY chores and ensuring that they sleep well by turning off background noise like a stereo. It is also important to achieve a work-life balance, as your Sim goes stir-crazy if they only work and hang around the house, so you need to send them into town for some fun a few times a week. Scotty from Star Trek must also live at River's Bend as this is achieved by beaming them from your single home to a paltry choice of two locations, the shopping complex at Union Park or the entertainment-focused Industrial Centre. It is also unusual that a visit to town makes time stand still: leave your house at 6pm to spend some time at the Gym, as well a bit of groove time at The Red Door nightclub and when you return home it will still only be 6.01pm (if only real life were so generous with leisure time). With two town areas and one household lot, this game is far from an expansive sandbox and it is a meagre number of locations compared to The Sims 3 on consoles.

The Sims series is not renowned for its graphical effects, but this version is especially lacking in variety and finesse. The default view on the top screen includes environmental pop-up as walls and furniture appear from nowhere, which looks worse in 3D and is only improved by pulling back the camera. Most of the game will be played by looking at the functional top-down touch screen and it is telling that the most visually attractive part of the game is a bird's-eye overview of River's Bend on the title screen. The audio fares better as there is a charm to the Simlish language; it's effective at expressing the Sim's emotions through warbles and gibberish, plus it is fun to hear the radio tunes belting out songs with Simlish voices.

Regarding 3DS specific features, there are My Name Is Earl-style Karma Powers, which are built up by fulfilling your Sim's wishes. Once enough Karma Power has been earned you can unleash an earthquake (by tilting the 3DS), wind (blow into the 3DS mic) and zap them (rub a crystal with the stylus). It is fun to experiment between blowing a cloud of funk, or a flurry of butterflies, but do not expect Populous DS levels of God-power here. The inclusion of StreetPass is welcome, with which you can share your Sim with other 3DS gamers and invite their Sim into your town. This links to the ability to create your own 'Townie', to populate the town with Sims that have your choice of personality. You can also take a photograph of your face with the 3DS's camera and place it side-by-side with a Sim's avatar so you can mould its features to match your own.

The touch screen controls suit the gameplay well, it is finicky but workable to select icons, direct Sims and interact with household items, although you will want to use the precision of the telescopic stylus, because some objects like plates are tiny. It also takes a while to become accustomed with what each icon represents, as it's not always obvious what they signify, which can be clumsy when assessing your Sim's Moodlet.

The limited number of locations and recurrent bugs are unfortunate, because the way in which the content inter-relates between Moodlets, Skills, Wishes and Careers is deep enough to build a unique experience. The game would have benefited from more development time, for example it does not include basic features like an autosave: you have to systematically save every bit of progress and suffer the long save times. Load times for visiting a town are also lengthy.

'Sim'-ply put, it is difficult to recommend this game, especially to owners of the DS version of The Sims 3. For any romantic gamers, the process of wooing a spouse is similar to The Sims 3 on Wii, although while you can still call your partner over when you're relaxing in bed and 'Make Out', the option to WooHoo did not come up in 20 hours of review time and there is no mention of Sim pregnancy in the manual.

Conclusion

The Sims 3 is a strong contender for the title of ‘Worst 3DS Launch Game’. It has a sickening amount of bugs, is unfinished and reeks of a game that has been rushed for launch. It is a shame, because the core open-ended Sims gameplay works well, but with only one household lot and two town locations the lack of variety means that much of the life simulation gameplay becomes laborious and a chore. Even ideas like Karma Powers and limited 3DS-specific features such as StreetPass implementation are not enough to recommend it. Buy a cheap copy of The Sims 3 on DS instead, or alternatively wait for the forthcoming Animal Crossing 3DS. If you really must own a 3DS Sims game, then with patience it is highly likely that another one will become available within the machine’s lifetime.

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Game Trailer

EA shows off their new Sims experience for you to cuddle up with your cats, dogs and horses to watch

User Comments (45)

Bass_X0

#3

Bass_X0 said:

I can't say it wasn't expected. I think those defending the game when I called it crappy shovelware earlier won't be able to defend it now. I hope no other game is as bad as this.

JamieOStaff

#5

JamieO said:

There is still a surprising amount of depth to The Sims 3, the way in which an action will have a consequence, so how you manage your Sim inter-relates between Moodlets, Skills, Wishes and Careers. This makes it all the more frustrating that there are only two small towns to visit, because The Sims Studio have built the core Sims template, but there is no variety to the locations. Anyhow, I could not discuss everything in the review, so below is some extra information that may be of interest to Sims fans:

  • You can buy and sell household items (furniture, cookers, computers etc), and manage where they are placed in your house. However, be careful, the game allowed me to place a tiny bin next to the fridge, but then it took me a while to work out that my Sims were starving because for some reason the bin stopped them from accessing it, even though the fridge opened easily enough.
  • You can decorate your house, for example change the tiles on the floors.
  • There is a fast forward button, although if you overuse it your Sim will be late for work and face disciplinary action. Your Sim has a basic amount of independence through AI choices, too.
  • You can read books to improve skills, as well as practising a special skill (guitar, athletics etc).
  • If your house is being robbed you can choose to fight the burglar or call the police, although if your Sim fights the robber and loses he will become upset.
  • You can use the Circle Pad to navigate around the bottom touch screen map, and zoom out to look at an entire town area, or house.
  • Your Sim does not age in the 3DS version of The Sims 3 and you can not choose to create your Sim as a different age group, like you can in the console version of the game (from toddler to elderly).
  • Changes in mood are displayed using different colours for the Moodlets: green is great, yellow is a warning and if the Moodlet turns red, then things are going badly for your Sim (e.g. your Sim is starving, needs a shower, wants to go to town etc). Moodlet icons also have a timer ticking down in hours and minutes, before they really start to kick in. However, the Moodlet design often ends up with the player repeating menial tasks; your Sim’s moods are incredibly needy.
  • Take good care of your Sim, dangers like fire, electrocution and particularly starvation mean that if you do not treat your Sim well, they will perish.

If anyone has any further specific questions about this game, I will hang out on this comments board to answer them. Cheers.

killer6370

#7

killer6370 said:

What 3/10 i have that crappy game(got it for free from Amazon) and my personal rate is 2/10

TeeJay

#9

TeeJay said:

Ohhh....very dissapointing. I'm glad I backed out of that preorder and got Pilotwings instead.
@3 Simply put, you are correct. I was very excited for this game, but my hopes have been dashed.

StarDust4Ever

#10

StarDust4Ever said:

When I saw "my name is hurl" I knew it was gonna be bad. EA should be ashamed of themselves, especially speaking from my own experience as a guy who still remembers the Sims roots with Maxis, and played the heck out of SimCity 2000 on the PC as a teenager. People play video games to escape the mundanes of life, not to relive it! :P

Moco_Loco

#11

Moco_Loco said:

I always thought the screenshots looked ugly, but The Sims has never been about the graphics. They shouldn't have rushed this out. There was no reason to other than to make the launch window, and if your game is bad word of mouth will get around.

Slapshot

#18

Slapshot said:

Great thorough review Jamie!

Note to EA: Had the game included WooHooin' it might have gotten a 4/10! :O

theblackdragonAdmin

#20

theblackdragon said:

@ryanthehedgehog: hear, hear. The Sims on a computer is good times, but the console releases I've tried haven't been half as enjoyable. This doesn't look like any exception, lol.

LunarJade

#22

LunarJade said:

I'm glad I waited for the review.
I was originally looking at getting the DS version but then it got announced that there would be a 3DS version and I figured it would be better to wait then.
I'd read the review for the DS and figured that it would score roughly the same for the 3DS.

I was excited for a portable version of SIms that would be more accurate to the original instead of being some weird storylined thing. Glad I didn't have to have the first hand experience of disappointment with it. It sounds like it wouldn't be quite what I want in the end after all.

JamieOStaff

#26

JamieO said:

@slapshot82 I am up to 25 hours playtime with The Sims 3 now and even though my Sim has failed miserably to instigate WooHoo, despite both Sims (wife and husband) having a full friendship/ romance meter and hearts popping up all over the place, all hope is not lost.

On the 3DS's main 'Home Menu', where the Sims 3 item rotates there is clearly a picture of a bed with Sim's under the covers and hearts spinning above the bed sheets. They may well be making WooHoo! ;)

Odnetnin

#27

Odnetnin said:

At least killer6370 is getting SSFIV for it instead; something good came out of this.

Slapshot

#29

Slapshot said:

@JamieO... Haha, well at least there is some hope! :)

I hate to admit it, but I was one of the guys that bought the Sims just to drain pools full of Sims, and add a bit of electricity to a hot tub party, etc. I did try to actually play the game once, but after a bout of entertaining WooHoo, I took my Sims for a swim, and well, I couldn't resist it anymore.... SimDeath! :O

RionaaM

#32

RionaaM said:

Well, this ain't no Sims Bustin' Out on GBA, so I won't be playing this. In fact, the first two GBA Sims games may well be the best versions of all the games in the franchise.

StuffyStuff

#33

StuffyStuff said:

All of these bad 3DS reviews are a bit scary. I know it's just one sight's opinion, but I generally agree with NL's assessments and seeing as many negative reviews as have been listed is alarming, at least to me.

Stine

#34

Stine said:

I'll stick with my sims on the computer, thank you very much. And it's got loading screens?? One of the best parts about The Sims 3 PC was that we could finally move around freely, without worrying about those blue loading screens from The Sims 2 that popped up between every location you visited.

This part seems interesting, though: "The inclusion of StreetPass is welcome, with which you can share your Sim with other 3DS gamers and invite their Sim into your town. This links to the ability to create your own 'Townie', to populate the town with Sims that have your choice of personality. You can also take a photograph of your face with the 3DS's camera and place it side-by-side with a Sim's avatar so you can mould its features to match your own." But it's certainly not enough to make me want to buy it.

JamieOStaff

#35

JamieO said:

@slapshot82 The Sims 3 on 3DS is actually more suited for gamers with the teeniest bit of a playful sadistic streak, because it is UK Pegi rated as a 12, when the DS game was a Pegi 7, so more mature content is available (eg your Sim can perish).

@Stine I agree completely, I found the load screens tiresome, because the town areas are small anyway, so there can't be that much data to load and each load is over 20 seconds long (travelling to town and another load for home again). I think with more development time a Sims dev could create a much more immersive world, by utilising the superior 3DS tech specs for larger, more varied locations and a better flowing, continuous feel to the game world.

It is a shame that the 'Save Game' times are long too, particularly as there is no autosave, and I think that it would have been beneficial for the player to have the choice of more than one save game slot.

sillygostly

#36

sillygostly said:

@ RionaaM: I agree. The Sims: Bustin' Out on GBA is one of my favourite games of all time. Funnily enough, three years later, they spawned what was easily one of the worst games of all time... The Sims 2: Pets. Man, was that a stinker. >=(

sillygostly

#37

sillygostly said:

I can understand the scathing reviews (though I've been thoroughly enjoying the game so far, and I'm yet to experience any bugs), but a 3/10? This game easily trumps the bastardised DS version, which tried to accomplish what the hardware simply wasn't capable of doing effectively. I was a little worried after seeing the score, but my fears were mostly unfounded. Perhaps my expectations have become a tad warped since the nightmare that was The Sims 2: Pets on DS. =P

Sure, the lack of a mood meter is a disappointment, and a stupid move in hindsight (The Sims 2 on DS had also eliminated mood meters, instead opting for a single "sanity" meter), but I've learned to work around it by ensuring that my Sim eats, defecates, showers and sleeps at least once daily. See? No more spills. =P

There's plenty to enjoy here for social sims and fans of dating games (if you, like me, grew up playing house with your sisters/cousins), but I'd recommend all else to keep their distance.

Street Fighter here I come...

JamieOStaff

#38

JamieO said:

@sillygostly Thanks for your comment, it’s always good to hear an alternative viewpoint. A big element of a Sims game is time management, so I’m glad you mastered a method to manage the more menial Sims tasks. I felt that mundane chores upset the balance and dominated the game detrimentally, this took away from my enjoyment, but each gamer enjoys different things.

In regard to the score, I consciously made a decision that if a gamer purchased a new 3DS, this game would give them a poor first impression of the hardware. It was not just bugs, but awkward design choices that informed my scoring decision. For example, I read a review of this game on a prominent site today (a day after my review), that independently found the same bug as me. This was where after 15 hours play my Sim’s radio broke, but sat in limbo, I could not select it to repair it. It was small, but it is not coincidence that two gaming sites encountered the same problem.

There is a design flaw which I encountered involving character creation, caused by vague and unhelpful menus when creating outfits, haircuts etc, for daytime, nightwear and sports gear. Tiny nondescript tabs could lead gamers new to the Sims to be flummoxed in understanding they're supposed to create more that one outfit. Again I know that a large gaming site has mentioned this exact problem, completely independently of us coming across it.

My expectations of this were far higher than the DS game, considering that 3DS has been described as having specs which are comparable to a GameCube, or even a Wii. It is not just that the visuals are bland, but they are clumsy, entire walls blocked my top screen in the default view. I also own Ridge Racer 3D and Pilotwings Resort, and while they are different genres, the level of polish feels like a generation ahead of this, I know how I would spend my £35.

A review involves a certain amount of subjectivity and we all have our own tastes and opinions. Most importantly I am pleased you are getting enjoyment out of it, your opinion is just as valid as mine, and you make a good point when you say, “There's plenty to enjoy here for social sims and fans of dating games”. Have lots of fun with Super Street Fighter IV too, mate. Cheers. :)

Samholy

#39

Samholy said:

wow, what a shame...
again, is there any sims game worthy for a handheld.
this is not a game made for handheld playing, end of the line.

Mattiator

#40

Mattiator said:

"If your house is being robbed you can choose to fight the burglar or call the police, although if your Sim fights the robber and loses he will become upset."

I'll have to keep that in mind when a burglar tries to rob my apartment that the only thing that will happen if I lose a fight to him is unhappiness, as opposed to, y'know, dying.

drake9000

#41

drake9000 said:

Man,I hate ppl nocking this game, this is a great review,but the sims 3 3ds ( please understand this) will ¨NEVER¨ ¨EVER¨ live up to the pc version.Its not a cd but a chip with small storage space!

who has played the iphone or ds version knows this game is better. ( I know from experience -_-) I have the game and its a joy taking care of my sim on a portable system.<3

I do understand that the map is limited two only two handful of areas , But that doesn't limit the ingame possibilities.

I guess what im trying to say is ¨Please give this game a chance¨ I love the game to death(I can put it down) and I still play the pc version. Tell me this who said you have to pick only one!!!

listen to me,if you never played any sims before get it and try it out ( if you love it get it on pc), for you guys who played sims games on pc and judge this game becuase of the difference in verity and volume, Do Not RUIN the next generation of gamers experience with what “WAS” . Before you lesson to this review lesson to me. i know this sites ratings scale and i believe for a fact that this game is a few points above average.

pinkdolphins

#45

pinkdolphins said:

I was so excited when I someone gave me their sims 3 game for 3ds for free. After playing it for a few hours, I understood why they gave me it for free. I absolutely hated it. It took a bit of time getting used to all the features, especially it being the first proper sims game played. I constantly noticed how rushed it was. Having enough sleep, enough to eat didn't mix with working. Having to make the sim wash itself wasted more sleep time so it would fall asleep on the floor as soon as it got back from work.

Is the PC version as bad and how much memory would it take if I got it?

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