This week, we have a guest review of Sims 3 World Adventures from Martha Mackay, who is going to tell us about the new expansion pack!
Publisher: EA Games
Developer: The Sim Studio
The expansion is coming but is it worth spending your Christmas dosh on it?
Sims 3 had barely settled onto our PCs when EA announced the expansion pack, Sims 3 World Adventures, for November 17. This, I thought, was not cricket. The Sims franchise has been criticised for its devotion to milking fans of every precious cent by producing one bland expansion pack after another.
Often these expansions delivered little in the way of rich gameplay, they added only extra features that usually extended loading times into the ridiculous – you could literally sort your taxes while you waited. In short, they didn’t drive us crazy with joy and we all thought that many of the fixes and features should have just been shipped with the original game in the first place.
So it was with this cynicism and doubt that I approached Sims 3 World. Its release date so soon after Sims 3, and right in time for Christmas, smacked more of “gimme your money” than “ooh, look what we’ve done now!”
I’m delighted to be wrong.
Yes, there are still the unbearably long loading times that come with this expansion but, I guess, some traditions should not be broken. There is something quite nostalgic about having the time to file your nails or make dinner while you wait for the screen to load.
In World Adventures your Sims can travel to three different exotic locations – France, China and Egypt. I did spend a few minutes wondering why they didn’t choose Britain and then realised that they probably didn’t have the energy to implement low cloud and rain into the game.
When you first start out, you don’t need to have played Sims 3 and own well rounded or developed characters in order to travel. You just pick up the phone, choose your destination and set off. Initially your journeys are limited to only three Sim days. You can extend this time only by building up visa points as you undertake and complete quests for locals. The more difficult the quest, the more visa points you’re likely to get.
I must add that the game has undergone a rather dramatic change. The Sims, until now, have stayed absolutely true to the genre but this new expansion pack takes the game in an entirely new direction. EA have cleverly introduced the point and click adventure genre into the Sim gameplay and it’s been done with a lot of thought and attention to detail. No, you won’t get the truly epic puzzles and quests that you would with a dedicated adventure title, but there’s enough there to make it addictive and entertaining.
The amount of work that’s gone into creating tons of secret locations, hidden treasures and extras for all types and tastes of player is impressive. Not only that, but you’re looking at a concept that may set the tone for future Sim expansions and possibly even a completely remodelled concept for Sims 4 in the future.
Of course this is pure conjecture, but ultimately it’s an exciting departure from the bog-standard Have a Pet expansion.
While your Sim is exploring different countries they can inspect tombs, learn new skills like martial arts or photography, form relationships and even, with hard work, buy a holiday home. It’s beautifully done in terms of engaging gameplay and rich detail but the quests themselves are somewhat tedious and uninspiring after a while.
To be fair, I’ve not yet gone to the end of the quest structure yet, so they may well become far more intense and the puzzles more challenging. I wouldn’t recommend that fans of the adventure genre gallop forth to buy the games as it’s likely they’ll be picking up their pitchforks after an hour or two, but Sims lovers should find this opens up their experience beautifully.
Ultimately it’s about enjoying taking your Sim out and about, discovering secret passageways and oodles of treasure while not having to worry about every facet of his or her micromanagement. You don’t have issues with your Sim’s bladder while you traipse through a tomb with no toilets, so there’s not that element of “explore a little, go back and pee, explore a little, go back and pee.” This came as a welcome relief as I must confess to feeling a little concerned as I approached my first tomb.
While I thoroughly enjoy the Sims and have spent many happy hours playing the different incarnations, I have also found myself abandoning it when the micro-management got too irksome. Sims 2 was plagued with this issue, although not to the extent of the original, and it seems that Sims 3 has really addressed these issues enough to make the game more accessible to other gamers.