Well, folks, it's time to bid a fond farewell to The Sims 3 with the 11th and final expansion, The Sims 3: Into the Future. Boy, did this game end with a bang! A time portal opens up in town, and Emit Ralevart (get it?), a time traveler, arrives to show you how to use it and to constantly lecture you about time paradoxes and causality. Step your Sim through the portal, and you enter a strange new world hundreds of years in the future!
Regardless of which town you are starting from, there is only one town in the future: Oasis Landing. When you travel there, time in your main town is paused, similar to when you go to college (University Life) or travel the world (World Adventure). There's no need to worry that your pets and children are unattended while you explore the mysteries of the future because they won't even notice you're gone. Oasis Landing is a relatively small but tightly packed town that's full of future technology and people dressed in all the latest Capitol fashions. There's a lot to do, but there's no set time limit, so you're welcome to explore as much as you want.
There's a lot to keep track of if you want to be a time traveler, so Emit gives you an Almanac of Time, which shows up on the inventory tab next to your cell phone and collections journal. With it, you can check on your legacy, keep track of your descendants, and choose what kind of future you want to have.
Your legacy is the mark you've left on the world. There are five different legacies you can earn, and the almanac tells you how you can do so. If you want future generations to remember you as The Renowned Philanthropist (and build a statue in your honor), it walks you through the easiest way to become famous.
Your descendants can be found and befriended in Oasis Landing as well, and who you are in the normal timeline directly contributes to the number of your descendants — and their wealth. If you have a lot of children, you'll have a large, sprawling family legacy. How much money and how big your house is can also play a part in future affluence, and the game tells you when you've done something in the present to change the future, so you can alter it, if that's what you'd like to do.
The first time you go to Oasis Landing, it's a "normal" future, with lots of holograms, tube elevators and things of that nature. However, after your first visit, you have the option to start a quest line to change your future. For a dystopian future, go around town making meteors crash into it and telling people to stop caring about anything but themselves. Utopia, on the other hand, requires you to literally aerosolize happiness and cover the town with it. You can then step through the time portal and witness the fruits of your labor.
Dystopian Oasis Landing is every bit the crappy world you'd imagine. Garbage litters the streets, the town is choked with smog, meteor strikes are common, and as far as the eye can see, the landscape is first-person-shooter brown. On the other end of the spectrum is rainbow-covered, creepy-happy Utopian Oasis Landing. Purple trees and oversized flowers cover the landscape, and dew from those flowers is drinkable as distilled happiness. All in all, I preferred the normal future because Utopia was too friendly even for me, and when I went to the dystopian future, I was immediately killed by a meteor, so it clearly wasn't meant to be. You can switch between the three futures as often as you'd like, so you can find the future that's best for you.
Of course, with time travel comes technology. A new skill, Advanced Technology, lets you make the most of everything from jet packs and hoverboards to food synthesizers and sonic showers. The skill gives you more options when using the tech, like being able to program the Dream Pod or adding new food options to the synthesizer. There's also the laser rhythm-a-con, a new musical instrument and potential skill. A sort of laser-harp, it makes lasery noises and changes colors and sounds more like sci-fi sound effects than music, but maybe I'm too old to understand new future trends.
The real star of the show is Bot Building, the other new skill added in Into the Future. It lets you build Plumbots, which are SimBot 2.0. Where SimBots have more Sim-like traits, having to eat and socialize and go to the bathroom, Plumbots are more like pure robots. Their personality is based on the chips they have installed. For example, a Plumbot does not need to socialize unless you give it a Capacity to Love or Simulated Emotions chip. If you can't cook very well, give your bot the Steel Chef chip. Office Drone bots can get jobs.
Chips are made using nanites, a new type of collectible found in the world, and there are 20 chips you can install. If you prefer, you can give your Plumbot the Sentience chip and let it decide who it wants to be. Giving them sentience, though, makes them essentially waterproof SimBots, which sort of defeats the purpose. I greatly prefer the Plumbot, as it seems more versatile and interesting, but two types of robo-Sim feel like overkill.
If you do choose to go into Bot Building, the Bot Fan trait can help you. It's exactly what it says on the tin, making your Sim a fan of Plumbots and able to build them better and faster. For those who need some challenge, try the Unstable trait. Your Sim will occasionally have delusions, completely and permanently (until the next delusional episode) changing your traits. One minute you're a Neat, Natural Cook, and the next, Athletic and Cowardly. How often it changes seems mostly random, so it may be a constant thing or just once in your whole game, but it's a nice bit of unpredictability in an otherwise predicable world.
All in all, I'm impressed with The Sims 3: Into the Future. EA/Maxis packed a lot of content into its final expansion, and it ranks among my favorites for The Sims 3. Eleven expansions seems like a bit much, especially considering all the stuff packs and mini-expansions they've added to the online store, but if you, like me, are still a fan of the Sims franchise, Into the Future is definitely worth a look. It will help you keep things interesting while we wait for The Sims 4 in 2014. See you then.
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