In the beginning, God created the Heavens and the Earth. And God said, "Let there be light," and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and He separated the light from the darkness. God called the light "day," and the darkness he called it "night." By the sixth day, we are told that God also created man. And then, in the seventh day, he decided to rest, content of what He had created. Bearing Schopenhauer in mind, I prefer to believe that we are still in the seventh day, contemplating a God that has hidden himself from his creation, leaving this world for a less complex one: in his free time, God… is playing The Sims.
Welcome to a world of limitless possibilities, to the human Animal Planet heaven, where anyone can become a small and mentally disturbed Big Brother. Existence is much more convenient in The Sims 3 because, for the first time in your life, you can fine-tune what defines you, ranging from those strategically placed moles to your personality. You can choose your qualities and flaws; you also get to choose your weight and appetite so that you can finally fit perfectly in your own shoes.
This title surpasses the previous games of the series when it comes to pushing the borders of science and human nature. The Sims 3 proves to have learned quite a lot from his Big Daddy, the universal life simulator Spore, and now boasts a similar way of customizing your characters.
It all begins in front of a mirror, where one confronts with their inner self. The Sims 3 follows the same rules, bringing you into a confrontation with your digital ego, that risks never finding an end. Apart from the usual adjustments of the different face muscles, the game now has a unique system that handles textures. So you can combine different textures in infinite colors and nuances and mix them together to create revolutionary designs, flower power hair or vampire looks.
If standing-out is an absolute must, you’ll be thrilled by the fact that you can modify your avatar’s voice pitch as well. In a nutshell, The Sims 3 offers all the necessary tools to explore the limits of a virtual body. And, once you’re satisfied with the easily obtained six-pack, you can choose five of the 63 personality traits which combine into 32 Lifetime Wishes, to coin the look and feel of your Sim’s existence.
A deceiving game
After all, The Sims 3 is a game and like any other game, it must have a “catch”. So, out of all those nifty Lifetime Wishes, you, as the player, have to choose only one that you think your Sim can somehow accomplish throughout his life. As any normal human being, your Sim too will age and inevitably die.
So, an unaccomplished Sim on the death bed can be considered a sort of “game over”, while a fulfilled Sim gives you a “you win, now go home” type of feeling. Still, whatever the conclusion, the world spins round indifferently, countless generations of Sims live and die one after another and you tirelessly struggle to bring Heaven on their SimEarth. And before you know it, you’ve been spending several hours watching imaginary people doing the very same things you do each day.
Before you start worrying that you have a pervert curiosity, bear in mind that The Sims’ gameplay is much more addictive than in the past titles. The overall mechanic is no longer based on Maslow’s pyramid of needs, which has been replaced by a much more humane system of ideals. At last, a Sim can eat once per day without fearing starvation, he can now use the restroom at work and, in case he is tired, he can sleep when the boss isn’t watching.
He can take care of the basic things on his own, so you can focus on more pressing issues like their digital ideals and most importantly, your own ideals. The universe of The Sims 3 is just like those cursed fairytale worlds: you cannot quit it because you tend to forget why you’ve started playing in the first place.
The Lifetime Wish will soon find itself choked by unimportant hobbies and other knick knacks. You’ll struggle to learn new cooking recipes or to sell 30 popular books just because these all function like achievements. Each treat your Sim gets earns you additional points that you can spend on bonuses or new abilities. These range from improved sex-appeal to the possibility of living without food. The most expensive bonuses are real objects that can clone food or teleport you to the other side of town.
The game also has less obvious rewards for people who take up hobbies like gardening or tinkering. And if you ever get tired of that you can always get a job and struggle to reach the top of your career, making friends and enemies as you climb the hierarchy. Jobs can offer bonus objects too: I got a nifty PC when working as a hacker.
And the list of things to do doesn’t stop here. The game is full of collectibles, like meteorite rocks, butterflies, bugs, unique plants or fishes. And you can still visit the graveyard at night and the galaxy is still there to explore, if you don’t fear abductions.