June 7, 2009

The Sims 3 First Impressions

Unfortunately my brother is playing right now so I can't exactly provide any screenshots as much as I want to. Anyway, I pre-ordered The Sims 3 from Trinoma Datablitz a few weeks ago and it's just now that we were able to get to it. Obviously, if you surf the Internet a lot, it's no secret that publisher Electronic Arts places much faith in this game as it is being marketed rather aggressively across many forms. But enough about marketing, let's get on with the actual game.

Let's talk about the stuff that actually came in with the box. Since pre-ordering automatically enables you to a more costly Collector's Edition (although those who pre-order apparently have gotten a 200 peso decrease from the retail price of the Collector's Edition which is 2500 PHP), I got soooo many freebies. Those who pre-order (which means it's not part of the Collector's Edition) also get a nice mug and a simple black t-shirt with the plumbob. Then the inside of the collector's edition has a 2GB USB drive shaped like the iconic plumbob (check my Twitter account for pictures of the USB drive) which comes pre-loaded with Sims 3 wallpapers, screensavers and the theme song, a free download code for the European car from the Sims store, and a preview hard copy of the Prima Guide. Other less tangible freebies include a Sims 2 expansion of choice (which my brother gave to his friend and is only available for those who pre-ordered), and $10 worth of SimPoints when you register your game (all original retail copies have free $10). Note that all copies of The Sims 3 is also compatible with both Windows and Intel-based Macs on the same disc.

Installation took quite a long time to finish, and the Sims 3 Launcher took really long to load up. This particular launcher basically has links to The Sims 3 Store and it also acts as a download manager for purchased items. Of course, the Launcher has a big-ass Play button too.

So yeah, I click the Play button and guess what happened: the screen became black, the monitor changed resolutions, and suddenly there was a white border- and it didn't look normal. I only heard the audio cue of the EA logo, so my intuition told me that I should press the Start button- which I did- and maximize it again. Guess what, it solved the problem. Now I have to live with this relatively minor irritation!

The game made up for it by loading up surprisingly swiftly though. I never remembered the Sims 2 loading up so quickly, even during when it first launched, but it must be said that it could be attributed to my decent dual-core setup. Minimum specifications for The Sims 3 is actually very kind: a Pentium 4 is still all it needs- and it kinda shows in the graphics.

I thought it was just the same graphic fidelity as The Sims 2 and it was art direction that made it look more realistic, but there is actually a bit of an improvement in The Sims 3- but not by all that much. Instinctively, I selected the default Sunset Valley neighborhood and instantly noticed the absence of the option for creating custom neighborhoods. It should be noted that it is not Maxis that is developing the game this time around, but EA Redwood Shores. Still, a lot of the changes they made are actually for the better even if at first, experienced players will get thrown off.

Instinctively, I chose to Create A Sim, and boy did it take longer than I would in The Sims 2 to make a person. Getting used to the granular controls might take some time for me, but they're fun to mess around with nonetheless. By default, the game actually picks the Young Adult age group for some reason. In The Sims 2, the young adult was the age group that experienced college, but it seems that in this game, Young Adult is the same as Adult in the first two Sims. When it then came to the clothes, it was suddenly a world of flexibility. All of a sudden, I was choosing my own styles, colors and yes, shoes. The Create A Style mode surprisingly hooked me as I'm not normally into mixing and matching shapes and colors and patterns. It's a lot of fun to use this tool, and it took little time for me to get used to the filters and hierarchies. Hair coloration also works as advertised as you can now adjust a Sim's roots, highlights, base, and more. Making celebrity lookalikes just became a lot easier this time around, and early on in this stage do I find myself falling in love with The Sims 3 already!

Lastly, you can also set some interesting personality traits to your Sim. Instead of the archaic celestial signs system, you can actually put personality traits into your Sim through clicking actual adjectives- and boy are there a lot of them. These personality traits will actually narrow down the appropriate goals your Sim might want to have. For example, my Sim didn't have the option to have the goal of taking over the world, but the Sim of my brother had it. It's very interesting to experiment with them, so I might even go for the Evil trait later on. Perhaps a bit less of an impact to gameplay is the new Favorites system which could replace the Turn-On and Turn-Off system introduced in The Sims 2 Nightlife. It's just you selecting what food or musical genre your Sim wants, etc..

Now it's time to move in the family. I chose not to create my own house for now, so I moved her in a pre-made house. Yeah, I made a girl named Caroline Reese- a suggestion from my brother. Anyway, I moved her in and suddenly my younger brother wanted to play. I felt like giving him a chance to play so I saved the game.

This is where confusion starts. In The Sims and The Sims 2, it would be that pressing the button with the three dots (or F5) and click "Neighborhood" would send you back to the neighborhood view so you could select a new family or create a new Sim. In this game, it's radically different. For starters, there is no Neighborhood view where you can choose the next Sim you want to control, it's the Main Menu where you can choose the next Sim you want to control, and you have to select "New Game" from the Main Menu so you can access the neighborhood and create a new Sim. In time, I'll get used to it, but it's kind of clunky if you ask me.

Anyway, after actually restarting the computer because Windows froze, my brother started playing and creating his Sim. Next thing he did was to create an empty lot and build a new house. Just clicking at the Buy mode revealed a complete revamp of the UI. There were tabs that categorized the objects by function, and below those tabs would be really huge representations of what would've been a typical category in The Sims 2. And I mean HUGE. This makes for a more user-friendly experience for novice players, but experienced players (like me) will have to get used to them. The Build mode for creating a house is actually no different and could potentially be a bit of a hassle for experienced players. You are presented with a huge representation of an actual house, and there you could pick whether you want to edit the terrain, create a garden, make the foundation, etc..

So far, the actual building process seems like it's the same as The Sims 2. It's the color-coordination that's actually different. For example, you want to match the couch of your living room to the color of the walls in the room. Well, you can summon the Style editor and actually match it. It's really amazing what you can do with the versatile editor. You can actually use it on practically any object, and you can change the color of either, in the case of the aforementioned couch, the cushions or the wooden support. Trust me, just that aspect will already addict you.

I have yet to actually experience living life with a Sim, but I'll just reflect my impressions when I get to review it. It will be quite the task to review a game of this scale. So far, I am really loving the creation aspects of it, but the actual gameplay will have to wait.

1 comment:

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