June 8, 2009

iPhone App of the Week: The Sims 3

It's been 2 weeks since I last wrote for this 'weekly' column, and no I'm getting back to it in a semi-big way. One of the more high-profile demoes in the iPhone developer event last March was The Sims 3, so while The Sims 3 for iPhone has indeed been released out in the wild together with its PC and Mac counterparts, the current stable release doesn't have the features demoed a few months ago. Basically, by the time this blog post is published, the new update with the new features might get released with it.
But let's get back on topic: The Sims 3 for the iPhone and iPod touch.

Basically, it's a ground-up version of The Sims 3 on the PC. Whatever features they could fit in, they probably fit in. There's a nagging feeling that the game is incomplete for me, though, but the feeling is explained in the first paragraph albeit indirectly.

So yeah, The Sims 3. Load times are awfully long (but not as long as Assassin's Creed) but the main menu is kinda different from that of the actual game. Consider it the launcher.
Aside from the big-ass "Start Game" button, there are four menu options: "Goals Checklist" which acts like an unlockable list of achievements, "More Games" basically takes you to the App Store to see all the iPhone games under Electronic Arts, "Options" which lets you set the music volume and "Help & About" which is... do I need to define it?

The first thing you'll probably want to do is to just start the game already, so let's tap that play button and start.
We gotta select a save slot though. This kind of reminds me of the actual game's save system as well.

So let's start creating our Sim.
The creation interface is actually reminiscent to that of the PC version, but the graphics, of course, are a long shot to the real game. Obviously, the iPhone version does not feature the "Create a Style" mode nor does it offer the same level of power over the customization of your Sims.
In fact, it's more of The Sims 1 wherein you can only choose between a limited (very limited) number of faces that have been pre-made by the developers.
But at least you can also change the hair style separately unlike The Sims 1.
Choosing between different shirts and pants is also kinda limited, but at least the selection of shirts and pants are strictly separate for a bit of mixing and matching.
Yes, shoes can be selected too. There are no selections for Formal wear, Underwear, Pajamas, and all those other clothing types however.

Next part of Sim creation involves determining what your Sims' life dream will be (Persona) as well as their distinctive traits. There are actually just five personas you can choose from unlike in The Sims 3 for the PC where the "personas" or lifetime dreams are dependent on the traits themselves.
Whatever Persona you choose, you'll be stuck with for the rest of your Sim's life. Now we get to define our Sim's actual traits of which the Sim will be stuck with as well. There are loads of traits to choose from like in the real game, but you're only limited to five. No, you can't choose contradictory traits meaning that your Sim can't both have "No Sense of Humor" and "Good Sense of Humor".
Let's give the guy a name, shall we?
After waiting 10 seconds for the keyboard to load and typing the name (I named him Gary... no last names here), we finally get moved into our new home automagically.
The tutorial instantly starts and welcomes us to the world of The Sims 3.

Let's touch aspects of camera control while we're in our home since it's kinda integral for our personal tastes as to whether the camera view is okay. Since there is an actual 3D plane involved, pinching won't let you zoom in or out. Pinching lets you tilt the camera left or right, and zooming requires a slider found on the right side of the screen. Panning the camera only requires one finger moving to whatever direction.
The tutorial also states that movement only requires one touch. Basically, touch wherever you want your Sim to go.
But what if I want to use, say, the telephone? Well, we can just touch the telephone and some options will appear.
An exclusive feature of this phone from the phone in the full-fledged game, I think, is the "Job search" option.
Like the real Sims games, it also has a Wish system. You can lock onto wishes, but since this is not like the PC version, locking on requires these dialog boxes, and they may become rather annoying overtime.

One of the biggest draws of The Sims 3 is how seamless your house is to the environment. The iPhone version, however, requires you to press some yellow thing at the edge of your house if you want to see the Town Map.
Unfortunately, not all houses and lots get the same hovering labels as your house. You'll only get them labels when you visit them, but you can know what the buildings are when you touch them which is a bit of a weird design decision for me. Ultimately, they might've been aiming for you to explore a bit.
The HUD lets you see your Sim's needs (picture below), what specific needs are very much fulfilled, what wishes are locked, and the "three-dots-menu" which lets you save, exit, etc..
You can walk to establishments and get jobs inside it, shop for goods, or just walk to it.
You can also visit the houses of other Sims like in the real game. But unlike the full-fledged game wherein you have to know the people to be able to visit their homes, you can randomly go inside people's houses.

Now that I've gone inside the house, I can meet people. The interactions are obviously kind of limited, but it's actually kind of the same as the interactions found in the full-fledged game wherein interactions are buried in menus. Weirdly (or not, depending on your view), it allows two men to "be romantic...", but that was also present in the full-fledged games.
You can also check the status of your relationship with the guy you're talking to. Still, there are also shortcut buttons for you to go home or into town.
Occasionally, Sims let you choose whether you want to participate in some side-missions. Pictured below is an example.
But what about Buy and Build mode, you say? Well, they're in the iPhone too albeit limited as well.
You can choose as to whether you want to buy new stuff, or just move or sell your existing stuff.
Let's try to buy new stuff, although my Sim doesn't have much money.
Like the PC counterpart, the items are also categorized according to function by default.
The catch is, there are some locked stuff that can supposedly be unlocked through doing missions among other stuff.
Placing or moving objects also operate on a grid system like the PC counterpart.

Normally, I would give a rating, but for now, I'm not. Like the real Sims, it's kinda big and the things you could do are pretty many but not as much as the full-fledged game. The game is kinda limited and at times buggy though, so perhaps you should wait until the actual update comes along.

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