Reviewed: November 26, 2010
Released: October 26, 2010
The Sims 3 is not the first time Electronic Artsí people simulator has found its way onto console systems, but this latest attempt is probably the first time that the port is at least somewhat faithful to the PC Sims experience. Like the original Sims games, Sims 3 on the Xbox 360 allows you to create one or more virtual people, known as Sims, and influence many aspects of their lives, from taking care of their daily needs like eating and bathing to choosing their careers, governing their social interactions, and raising their families.|
Most readers are probably well familiar with the series by now, so I wonít go into great detail on the nitty gritty of the game basics, but suffice it to say that the simple concept of life simulation allows for a surprising number of complex and often amusing interactions that can keep a player amused for hours on end.
Just as in the original, the possibilities for your Sims are innumerous. The 360 version keeps most of the Create-A-Sim features of the original, allowing detailed modification of Sim facial features, body build, hairstyle, and clothing. Unlike the more limited DS port, the 360 Sims 3 does include Create-A-Style options, so that items like furniture and clothing can be personalized down to the color and pattern, just as in the original. Players can create from one to six Sims per household, and each family can be moved into one of various homes in the town of Moonlight Bay.
The fluid seamless neighborhood of the original game, in which you could just zoom out from your active household to the town at large, unfortunately didnít make it onto the 360 version of the game, probably because of system limitations. Instead, thereís a Town Map mode that allows you to choose among slightly more contained areas containing several lots each, so that players can at least get a little bit of that seamless feel. The town areas are perhaps less densely populated than the PC Sims 3 towns, but itíll still feel like a quieter downtown area and isnít too deserted.
The Sims 3 gameplay is largely intact. Sims have a number of personality traits, lifetime wishes (like reaching the top of a career path or seeing the ghost of a wealthy spouse), and short-term wishes (such as buying new furniture or improving a skill). Completing wishesóor even just making it through a dayóawards karma points that can later be used to unleash a number of beneficial or sadistic effects, like instantly increasing the householdís funds by a few thousand Simoleons or returning a deceased family member to life, or causing a spontaneous earthquake or meteor storm to wreak havoc on your little family.
These karma powers, which are exclusive to the console and handheld versions of the game, and other challenges awarded for various in-game accomplishments provide a bit of directed gameplay for gamers that prefer that sort of thing, but itís refreshing to see that the open-ended nature of the original PC game seems to finally be an option in this particular console port.
By the way, like the PC version and unlike the more child-friendly DS version, the 360 version is rated Teen and allows your Sims to reproduce and raise children. The options in landscaping, building, and buying objects for your Simsí homes are somewhere in between the PC and DS versions, and youíll be able to access the Sims 3 online store for more objects if you have Xbox Live. Overall, I feel the console port seems to strike a happy medium given its understandable limitations.
The bright graphics, endearing Simlish chatter, and upbeat music are all virtually the same as those on the PC, if maybe slightly less crisp and robust. The menus and interface are very well done and are an excellent adaptation to a system that doesnít use a mouse or stylus. The controls are also designed intuitively, all things considered, and are easy to pick up, even given their complexity. Itís true that most interactions require the game to pause for player choices (whereas the PC version keeps the action going while the player queues up interactions), and keeping track of multiple household members can take longer because of load times between home lot and town locations, but with a little patience, I found that it didnít detract too much from overall gameplay.
The Sims 3 for the Xbox 360 retails for roughly 60 dollars, about average for a 360 game, and can provide endless hours of entertainment, provided you enjoy the genre. Itís not a perfect port of the original, so if you have access to a PC gaming system, I would still suggest that you stick with the original Sims 3 for the best experience. If you donít, however, the 360 port really isnít shabby and is probably the closest youíre going to get to the original, so go ahead and give it a shot.