As with most PC-based franchises, The Sims titles have been released on the PC and then inevitably ported to home consoles. PC-to-console ports haven't yielded a lot of smash hits over the years, mostly due to the different control schemes and lack of mouse control. I've always felt that would be the case for The Sims, which isn't exactly a "hardcore" title, but it certainly requires a lot of user interaction to make it fun, and the majority of the control on the PC iteration is done with a mouse.
I was hesitant to check out The Sims 3 on PS3 for this very reason, as I've played a few Sims titles on home consoles in the past and never really enjoyed them. Even the kid-friendly, console-focused MySims series hasn't floated my boat. The biggest drawback for The Sims on consoles has always been control, and to a lesser extent, the overall content in relation to the PC offering. Anyone who's followed the series has realized that The Sims typically gives players a whole lot to check out, and that's without the numerous expansions packs. That also holds true for The Sims 3, with the content feeling a little on the light side compared to its PC counterpart, but it seems that the developers have a grasp on console controls.
It's still easier to navigate a pointer with a mouse rather than an analog stick because it's so much quicker, but everything else is tied to the controller buttons extremely well. All of the emotions, activities, and various ways you can interact with your Sim's life are pretty well laid out and intuitive, to a certain degree. It's nice to have tutorial messages that only pop up when necessary, and while that's nothing new to the world of game design, it's a much better approach than bombarding players with a bunch of text at the outset and hoping they'll remember when it's time to use it. The Sims 3 can be a bit of a slow burn, so having the tutorials be context-sensitive is definitely a huge help.
As you begin the game, you're given the option to create a single Sim or an entire household. You'll name, clothe and size up to six members to create a family or group of roommates. You can also pick their traits, which will dictate how the Sims will interact with one another, their work or schoolmates, and the townspeople. It was fun to just allow the game to assign random traits to characters, so my Sims would constantly surprise me as I played. However, it's nice to have the option to mold your characters as you see fit, and this carries over well from the PC title to consoles.
Once your household is set up, it's time to interact with the game world. Just like previous The Sims titles, there's a lot of work involved to make your Sims happy, but thankfully, you don't need to be quite as hands-on in the day-to-day activities and upkeep as you did in previous outings. Your characters will generally fulfill their basic needs to sleep, eat, use the bathroom, etc., if their levels get too low, but you'll still be able to jump in and tackle these tasks whenever you see fit. You can even torture them by constantly distracting them from sleep or other activities, depending on your play style.
As your characters get involved with more activities, they'll start to produce wishes, which are basically small goals that you can help them complete over time. Some wishes can be as basic as keeping a clean house by doing dishes or making the bed, while others can be more involved, like maxing out a particular skill set (i.e., learning to play the guitar). Wishes pop up randomly and are tied to specific activities, so it pays to have your Sims travel to different areas on the map like bookstores, fishing holes, grocery stores, parks, etc. The more they explore, the more you'll be rewarded by getting different tasks to complete.
Completing wishes isn't just for making your Sims happy, either, as the game has a karma system that allows you to create some divine intervention on behalf of your Sims. The karma system is pretty interesting and fun in that it has both good and bad sides. To prevent you from abusing the system, if you use a particular type of karma very often, the game will attempt to balance you out with random acts from the opposite end of the spectrum. If you continuously bestow good karma awards to your character, random acts of bad karma will pop up to ruin your Sim's day. The way to negate these effects is by constantly fulfilling wishes, which in turn will fill up the karma meter and make it possible for you to continue using the system.
Another huge aspect of The Sims 3 is entering your Sims into the workforce. You'll want to cater jobs to their traits and ultimate wish, which were set up in the initial character creation. Provided you want your Sims to evolve to their true potential (and some very interesting household scenarios), you can adjust their work schedules so they'll either work hard, slack off, interact more with workmates, and suck up to the boss whenever possible. As they advance, they'll get raises and promotions, and they'll put more money into the household income for furnishings, repairs and upgrades.
Most of this isn't unique to The Sims 3, but I want to highlight how truly incredible it is that the game offers up such a myriad of choices. There are so many different things that you can do within one Sim's lifetime that you'll never see everything the game has to offer, and this will prompt you to continue creating new Sims or playing out entire genealogies to see everything that this game offers. It's definitely worth checking out for newcomers, and this home console port is a great representation of what the PC title offers.
As I mentioned earlier, the biggest thing that sets this apart from previous The Sims ports is that the control options are really well laid out and offer nearly as much control as the PC does. A lot of things are mapped to sub-menus with just one button press, and simply highlighting characters or items around characters will bring up menus with different activities. You can easily queue up activities for Sims and give them a lot of different tasks at once so that you to devote your time elsewhere or take a step back from the game and come back later to see how things played out. There's a huge amount of flexibility within the game world that makes it a really appealing time-waster.
If you've been put off by lackluster The Sims ports in the past — as I have — I would definitely urge you to check out The Sims 3 on consoles. It's a really great port that doesn't sacrifice much in the transition, and it's going to be a lot of fun for anyone who hasn't already played the PC version. Combine that with EA's built-in content-sharing system that allows you to share unique Sims with other players, and The Sims 3 will easily provide you with hours upon hours of gameplay.
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