When I heard about The Sims 3: Island Paradise, my first thoughts were uncharitable, to say the least. This makes 10 expansion packs for The Sims 3; I had thought, with the announcement of The Sims 4 that they would wind down the outpouring of expansions. What more could they possibly have to add?
It turns out I was wrong on all counts. Not only do they have at least one more expansion in the works after this one, but Island Paradise added quite a few features that, though I was loath to admit it initially, are a lot of fun and add some interesting depth to the game.
The first and perhaps greatest addition is boats. There are different types, ranging from small paddle boats to sail boats and luxury speed boats. You can use them to explore the oceans, finding adventure and buried treasure off the coast of long-forgotten islands, or just to head to the deep ocean to catch some sharks or a kraken. All boats are customizable in the Build/Buy menu and, like cars, they never require any maintenance or refueling. Those unaccustomed to life on the seven seas, however, should stay close to land until they get their sea legs; sea sickness is not something to take lightly.
What if I want to explore but don't really feel like leaving my house? There are houseboats, which can be built the same way you build any houses in The Sims 3, and they're fully customizable. They can also be docked at the edge of town when you want to return to dry land. If you want to be somewhat land-based, you also have the option of building a stationary house on stilts either partially or fully over the water.
Those who want to explore the water but don't want to shell out the simoleons for a boat have the new Diving skill. Start out by simply snorkeling to explore the ocean, but with enough skill, you can upgrade to scuba diving and find life and adventure on the ocean floor. Collect sea shells, find new fish, and make some friends. Just watch your air supply.
Sometimes while underwater you can meet mermaids, the new life state added in Island Paradise. Once you become good friends with a mermaid (or merman), you get the interaction "Ask About Fish Parts," which sounds like you're hitting on them, but they give you an item called Mermadic Kelp, which can turn you into a mermaid. Only normal Sims can become mermaids, so if you are already a different life state, you have to cure that before changing to a mermaid.
While in water, mermaids have brightly colored, scaly tails and can swim faster than normal Sims. Once out of the water, the tail become brightly colored, scaly legs, but mermaids are not hampered from moving around on land. This color can be changed in any mirror, so there's no need to worry if your newly made Mersim doesn't like the initial color.
Mermaids' needs have two major differences from those of normal Sims. In place of hygiene, they have hydration. Like the water need for Plantsims, your mermaid needs to find a source of water (your bathtub works fine) to fulfill this need. If you have The Sims 3: Seasons, you can even hydrate by standing in the rain, so no effort is necessary. If you don't take care of this need, your mermaid will get a salt water deficiency and eventually turn back into a normal Sim.
Mermaids also don't much care for normal human food, so hamburgers and mac & cheese aren't going to cut it anymore. Instead, you'll want to spend some time learning to fish, buying fish from the local grocery store, or hunting for kelp. Fish can be eaten raw, so no need to bother with cooking it. Kelp can be found in underwater lots by snorkeling or diving, and if your mermaid has the vegetarian trait, it's actually your only option, as eating fish makes them nauseous.
Those who want to spend their time near the water and still make money may want to start a career as a lifeguard. It's a playable career along the lines of those originally added in The Sims 3: Ambitions, so you have to watch over the people on the beach. It's based mostly on Athletics and Charisma, but it probably wouldn't hurt to brush up on your diving skill, either. It never pays very much, but perks include the deed to an uncharted island and the ability to run down the beach in slow motion. (No, seriously. This is an actual thing.)
If guarding lives isn't your cup of tea, have you considered entrepreneurialism? The Sims 3: Island Paradise introduces the ability to run your own resort, whether it's a classy, expensive, beachside hotel or a romantic bungalow retreat. You have the option to buy it and create the getaway of your dreams. Hire staff to run the day-to-day operations, customize the lot and the workers' uniforms, change how much the resort costs, and make improvements. You can decide how hands-on you want to be by doing some of the work or hiring other people to do it for you. As people come to stay at your resort, they'll tell their friends and drum up new business, so keeping the place clean and running is the key to success. It requires quite a bit of micromanagement at the start, but once you've got ball rolling, it is pretty much autonomous.
The Sims 3: Island Paradise ended up adding a lot more fun than I thought it would, but with every expansion, I become a harsher critic. Sometimes, an expansion for a game comes out and becomes necessary to get the most out of the base game. Is Island Paradise one of those? I don't think anyone will feel The Sims 3 is an incomplete game without Island Paradise. Sure, it's fun, but $30 is a lot to spend for filler content for a game that's four years old and already has an announced sequel.
More articles about The Sims 3: Island Paradise