Platform: PC (Reviewed) / Mac
Developer: Sim Studio
When it comes to the Sims, there is one thing you can always be sure of – the dreaded expansion pack. The first game spawned so many extras you needed an entire shelf to store them (if you bothered with them at all, that is), and the second tried very hard to capitalise on fan madness in the same way. So it comes as no real surprise that Sims 3: Ambitions is already on the shelves six months after World Travels.
I must confess to approaching this expansion with a certain amount of scepticism. World Adventures at least had the benefit of an unusual concept to lift it out of the “same old expansion” slot and possibly revolutionise the game. At first glance, Ambitions looked to be nothing more than a pimped up copy of Sims 2: Open for Business, although with some neat additions.
The first of these rather lovely extras is the ability to control your Sim during work hours. Oh yes, you can turn them into the company idiot or the local hero, depending entirely on your decisions during work time. It is a massive improvement on having to sit and stare at a speeding clock while your Sim is at work.
There are only a few new Professions that allow this interaction, however. These include; Stylist, Firefighter, Private Investigator, Ghost Hunter and Architectural Designer, or any Self Employed careers.
In addition to the Professions, the game has undergone some additional changes to the overall controls and many of these have made the game even more seamless. One-click interactions with other Sims as well as new lifetime wishes and rewards, plus new skills and activities, add a little spice to the original.
And Sims can do laundry. Yeah. Not exactly something I was looking for in a game.
When it comes to playing the various Professions, Sim fans will enjoy the new activities and the dry (often cheesy) humour that comes as part of the title. The Ghost Hunter and Private Investigator Professions offer up the usual cheesy Ghostbusteresque in-jokes and music, while the others throw in social commentary to round off the experience nicely.
Overall, all these Professions play well and are entertaining enough to make fans of the series rub their hands with glee. For those that think the Sims is a waste of time, this will not convert you. There are some frustrating issues and niggles that caused me to down tools in irritation, and I wasn’t as swept away by the experience as I was with World Adventures.
This expansion does not revolutionise and impress, rather it takes an old theme and makes it better. While this is not necessarily a bad thing, Ambitions is not as good as it should be to qualify as a cracking good expansion.
That said, however, there are some elements that really do shine. The new activities and skills are fantastically well developed and, when taken to their conclusion, offer Sims entirely new ways of making money. As tattoo artists, artists and even mad scientists, they can invent and create things that they can then sell to other Sims for cash.
Think farmer’s market a la Sims here. You even have to register as Self Employed at the City Hall. This is where the game gets interesting and offers you many entertaining hours of fun and madness. Complete with killer robots and ice sculptures.
It was at this point that the expansion finally fanned the flames of my old passion for this game and I was able to lose myself in the game at long last. This was soon quelled, however, by my discovering the inclusion of the Sim 3 Store. While this easy access portal to the world of Sims 3 microtransactions may seem nice and helpful, I find it to be a sign of the times and growing greed.
Paying for the privilege of owning that super fancy chair for my Sim’s house may be a personal choice, and one that many die-hard Simaholics will love, but I can’t help feeling that these extras should have been included in the £17.91 I paid for the game. I can’t find any comparisons, but I do have this faint memory of getting far more in-game extras (in terms of furnishings etc) back in the days of Sims and Sims 2.
- Fans will love it
- Some nice extras that add a richness to the original game
- Clever new careers that spice up the gameplay
- Not the most mind blowing expansion around
- Some distracting niggles
- It feels like “yet another expansion for cash”
The Short Version: It's another expansion that cashes in on the great Sims fan machine that offers some improvements on the original, but not enough to stop you from feeling slighty used. Wait for it to come out in the sales.