I often lament the fact that I don’t have a gaming-capable PC, but to be honest, I’m very glad that I don’t own one for some things. EA’s The Sims franchise is one of those things. I could easily see myself whiling away my days and nights, glued to a computer monitor, stealing random objects from people’s houses.
I was given a demo of The Sims 3 by Grant Rodiek, an Associate Producer on the game. He told me that while The Sims 2 was certainly a great game, the main problem with it was that the Sims themselves were too needy. They needed constant monitoring, or they’d soil themselves -- the game became more about keeping the Sims alive, as opposed to watching them live their lives. So the aim with The Sims 3 was to move up Maslow’s hierarchy -- to “move past peeing,” as Grant put it.
For example, one of the Sims in Grant’s house was named Jenna Arlenby; two of her traits were Evil and Kleptomaniac. When she was alone at a neighbor’s house, one of her actions was “Steal...” -- Grant picked it, and explained that she would run off with a random object from the room. When I was watching, she took a table; earlier, she had pilfered some curtains. Once they were stolen and brought back home, Jenna was free to use the objects (or get rid of them for some Simoleons). Another hilarious trait is Loser. If your Sims have this trait, when they die, Death will feel sorry for them -- so they’ll be reborn.
Jenna had a fraternal twin sister, Sarah, who was your prototypical “starving artist.” When we came across her, she was playing her guitar in the park. Her room back home had an easel, and her paintings adorned the walls. Your Sims’ personality traits will influence their art in The Sims 3 -- if your Sim is a Dreamer, his painting might look more like Starry Night or The Persistence of Memory, but if she’s a Genius, the art might be a still life.
That’s not all, though; the build and buy modes have gotten an overhaul as well. The square tiles that make up the grid in build mode are now one-fourth the size that they used to be, allowing for more precise placement. And at long last, the game has the built-in ability to rotate objects freely (360°), and they can even be placed between two tiles! Half-tile placement is obviously something that will completely change the complexion of the game -- perfect symmetry is now possible when placing a TV set in front of a two-seat couch.
There are all kinds of other minute, humanizing details -- evil Jenna, for example, had a special contextual action when using the computer: she could troll forums! The game also offers detailed stat tracking, in case you want to see how many plants you’ve harvested from your vegetable garden. The Sims 3 is a sure-fire hit: it contains upgrades and additions that longtime fans of the series have been clamoring for, and it makes it easier than ever for newcomers to get hooked. I think I’m going to delay my purchase of a new laptop until long after the game’s release date, June 2nd, so I won’t be tempted to pick it up.