I know this is sadly overdue, but I don’t care. Here are my thoughts:
It should be noted that I am a pretty big Sims fangirl. I started playing the original (like, playing it 24 hours straight on weekends) back in the day. Even when I discovered the cheat codes, I still made my Sims labor the hard way for their ridiculously expensive art and expansive backyard pools.
For the second game, I stopped drinking beer (well, at least I stopped paying for it) in order to buy it during college. The difference between Sims 1 and the majesty that was Sims 2 was enormous. The basic idea was the same, but the customization and graphics went through the roof. Check out this link to see the evolution between games.
As I started playing Sims 3, I was initially pretty shocked. Yeah, the customization is a little better (especially with furniture, you can create colors now), and the graphics are improved, but I was sort of underwhelmed. After the gap between Sims 1 and 2, I was expecting a bigger jump in Sims 3.
Admittedly, there are things about 3 that I really enjoy. I like that going somewhere besides your home no longer takes time to load (in fact, they encourage your character to leave … they’ll start to go “stir-crazy”). My play patterns are changing, I’ve noticed … I used to always create the same kind of characters, leading the same kind of lives: Get a job, go to work, and on days off, hold parties and hang out with friends. Now, my characters are all over the place, going to town after work, going to sports events, etc etc. There’s a wider range of lifestyle choices, which makes the game appealing for me.
Other things I like about 3 are the character development tools (especially choosing key traits instead of dealing with attribute points), expanded interactions with people, more hobbies (gardening, fishing, etc), and the graphics appear to be a little sharper.
The biggest problem I have with 3 is something that I didn’t quite understand at first — each town’s ability to continue evolving as you play different characters. While this sounds like a neat idea, I think the characters need more guidelines and restriction while they are “living” without player supervision.
If you have no idea what I’m talking about, here’s my example: In older Sims games, you can create different characters that live in the same city together. When playing one character, you may see another one of your characters out and about, but they aren’t actually making decisions that impact gameplay — they are simply part of the neighborhood.
In Sims 3, player-created characters that are not the “default character” for a particular town will continue to live their lives without input from the players. I’m not sure if their decisions are randomized or formulaic (based on player patterns, etc), but this ruined my boyfriend’s first character. His character and mine were in the same “town” — so our default character changed. The first time he went back as his character, after I’d spent a few hours with mine, he had no money, had skipped work for three (Sim) days, and there was an unknown baby on his doorstep.
If you want total control, you can choose to create a new sim in an entirely new town … but where’s the fun in that? I dislike that each character has to exist in a vacuum (unless you’re up for surprises).
Anyway, the verdict? It’s pretty fun. I’d put it aside a while ago in favor of some other games, but I brought it back out this weekend — mostly to create a character that has my ideal life. She’s a novelist with an expansive garden, no “real” job, she lives on the beach, and she travels everywhere by bike. Escapism at its best.