A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this is a life simulation game where you can create your own Sim and then control its life. Players can make Sims' personalities nuanced and life-like by assigning body characteristics and traits that include romantic, artistic, brave, kleptomaniac, neurotic, snob, and even "evil," which can influence desires, behavior, and job opportunities. Sims can enter into both heterosexual and same-sex relationships; and they can die.
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What's it about?
THE SIMS 3, the latest game in EA's blockbuster Sims franchise, is a life simulation game where you create and control your own person, affectionately call a Sim. This version takes character customization to a new level of nuance and detail. Not only are players afforded more options in body shape and clothing style and color than ever before, but they can also select five traits out of three dozen for their Sim, such as coward, absent-minded, athletic, and vegetarian, which affect everything from how the Sim behaves and interacts with other Sims to career choice and life aspirations.
The game's setting, the sprawling Sunset Valley, affords dozens of interesting locations to visit and hundreds of actions and reactions based on each Sim's personality. They can pursue a career or relationship, start a family, chill at the beach or pool, play chess in the park, or even rummage through the neighbor's garbage. You decide whether to be kind or mean-spirited. If you chose a path of evil doing, your Sim will actually derive pleasure from causing as much strife as possible. Likewise, romantic Sims will favor casual relationships with no long-term commitments.
Is it any good?
As with previous Sims titles, The Sims 3 isn't suitable for younger players. The game is a balanced and honest portrayal of peoples' foibles as well as their strengths. Characters can be dishonest, nasty, lustful, mean, and materialistic. Characters can die and turn into ghosts, although it's also possible to control and even halt the aging process.
The game is a nice blend of familar gameplay for those who have played the earlier versions, and interesting new gameplay. For example, the game offers a new detailed building tool that lets you drag walls to change the size of rooms in your house, or rotate items 45 degrees to place them on an angle, and a new family inventory that lets players store items without actually selling them. The game is still a bit cumbersome to control, and it's a shame you can't multi-task (like brushing your teeth while waiting for your morning waffles to cook), but overall the new features and refinements help to make The Sims 3 extremely engaging while giving it almost limitless replay value.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what personality traits they chose for their Sim. Did they make their Sim exactly like them, or experiment with a very different persona? Was it fun to play a nasty Sim, or did you feel guilty about making the other Sims feel bad? Of all the various life aspirations available in The Sims, which ones do you consider the most important?
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