If you maybe wound up slipping and falling into a ravine whilst trekking through the Himalayas, whereupon you spent ten years being carefully nurtured back to health by mountain wolves and the odd yeti, you might have missed out on The Sims, Maxis' take on the God game. This 'strategic real-life simulator' lets you take command of a 3D walking avatar and puts the smallest details of their life into your hands. You tell them when to eat, sleep, drink, party, work, play and so on and so forth. The Sims essentially combines people watching with almighty puppeteering, and it's absurdly engrossing.
You can snaffle a copy of the third instalment of the game, which features more of an emphasis on the neighbourhood experience, by heading on over to The Game Collection and buying one for £19.95, saving you around£5 on the nearest competitor over at Amazon.
The Sims 3 comes with a kind of Story Mode now, in which your neighbours will grow and progress through life autonomously alongside you rather than just milling around eternally. The old staples are there, of course; you can still build your dream house, throw parties for celebs, flirt with everyone under the sun, and have blurry pixellated sex with your neighbour's wife, if you so choose.
The Sims themselves are a little bit different this time around, instead of Wants and Fears, your virtual puppet will now have Wishes, the fulfilling of which will make them incredibly happy and contribute to their Lifetime Happiness score, meaning you can buy rewards. Your Sims will actually go to work now too, rather than just disappearing into the ether for half a day, and there are bundles of new Opportunities, events that'll boost your Sim's life with money or skill points.
I learnt the hard way from The Sims 2 that, if you let it, it will suck away your life. There's something wonderful about taking control of a virtual bright spark and steering them through this colourful representation of life. There's the transference thing, sure, but there's so much here to do, and so many different ways to do them. Just make sure you leave time for your actual social life too!
Thanks to Adam2050 at HUKD