The Sims 3
By now, you must know about The Sims. It's the little game that could, a life simulator filled with people speaking gibberish that has gone on to become one of the bestselling video game titles in the history of the medium. The latest iteration, The Sims 3, has been adapted to just about every platform you can think of, and EA was quick to jump on the 3DS, releasing The Sims 3 at launch. The experience is far from satisfying. Those of us who played the PC version know just how much more can be done with the idea, and most likely still have Sims active on a computer somewhere. Those who somehow have managed to avoid the series up till now will find the game's limitations frustrating, even if it seems like fun at first.
The game starts with character creation. Right off the bat, I found that the game had stripped away too many options. However, some of this is offset by the fact that you can use the 3DS' cameras to take a photo of a face and then the game tries to approximate it. With some tweaking, you can get a decent facsimile. From there, you customize the Sim's personality, and maybe give them a life goal, such as being the best housewife ever or being a Nobel prize winning scientist. And then it's off to the races.
Or, not entirely. Before letting you run wild on your newly created Sim, you have to go through a tutorial that shows you the various features of the game and also ensures your Sim has a job. For a game that's meant to let you make the decisions, it feels constricting. Eventually the game opens up and lets you take control. For a while, The Sims 3 can be quite a bit of fun. As you go about the day, you choose various tasks for the Sim to do. If you want to have some fun, make the Sim do something drastic and watch the craziness unfold. Sometimes the game will throw some craziness at you anyway, and it's always hilarious to see the Sims react to everyday emergencies.
However, at a certain point, the novelty wears off, and you're stuck repeating the same few things over and over. The PC version of the game avoids this fate by offering a plethora of interaction options between Sims, their environment, and their virtual neighbors. On the 3DS, the game cuts too many corners, meaning your character is stuck with too little to do, or is forced to perform menial tasks instead of finding out if the game actually does have new surprises in store for you.
This is only compounded by the fact that your character doesn't even age, nor does anyone else. You can form a romantic relationship (after spending a lot of time as relationships take much longer to develop than they did before), but you can't have kids. So apparently this is less of a life simulator and more of a chore machine. Don't we have enough of that in our real lives? This feeling of being stuck at the game's mercy is only exacerbated by the fact that the needs meters that form an integral part of the PC game are gone, meaning that your Sim will just keep on trucking until all of a sudden they are starving and must eat or they do the pee dance and have to get to a bathroom right now. It takes away the sense that you're the one making decisions, or even that you and your Sim are working together.
Perhaps the PC version has spoiled me. I try not to compare games, and rather review each title on their own merits, but with The Sims 3 on the 3DS that really isn't possible. The idea demands so much more than the game actually delivers, and the PC version gets it right where the cartridge gets it wrong. The 3D isn't even that useful. You'd think it would be for buying items for your house, but really, you could play the game in 2D without diminishing the experience in any way.
Ultimately, The Sims is a game you can lose yourself in, as you get caught up in the antics of the little digital people you've created. You share their hopes, their fears, their ups and downs. Or, at least, you can do that on the PC. On the 3DS, you mainly have to mop up a lot of messes, half of which are created by your Sim wetting themselves. It's about as fun as it sounds.