The Sims 3 is over a decade old. Why would I care, you might wonder. Well, let me share a secret with you. The main reason to play The Sims 3 is the ability to build amazing lives. The best way to describe any The Sims game is probably as a life simulation, or a sandbox role-playing game, if you will. And The Sims 3 shines at that. It delivers a myriad of interesting role-playing options which are neatly structured around the sandbox environment.
In this article, I will share the many reasons to play The Sims 3, and present the series as a whole, with all of it expansion packs. Many of the gameplay options covered here are available through expansion packs, such as Seasons, Pets, University Life, etc. Of course, it would be impossible to cover absolutely everything, as the game is so massive it would take a series of articles just to cover what I will here in detail. Nevertheless, we will explore here some of its most tantalizing features, such as traits and skills systems. So without further ado, let’s dive into this wonderful world, and the 5 reasons to play The Sims 3.
Playing in an Open World Is Amazing
In The Sims 3, the entire neighborhood is your playground. Quite literally so. There are movie theaters, shops, museums, parks, salons, playgrounds, arcades and everything your heart can desire. If a neighborhood lacks something you want, go to the Edit Town Mode and add something new.
Would you like to spend a night at your girlfriend’s? In The Sims 3, you can because all private lots are accessible. Your Sim can stroll down the street and knock on neighbor’s doors. If they are home, they will let your Sim inside, and you can have full access to their house. Would you like to own multiple homes? Now you can. Your household can own more than one house or lot, and those lots can be decorated and used just as the primary one.
With open world you can send some Sims off to different parts of town while still simultaneously playing the entire household. For example, one of your household members can go straight to the spa after work while another can spend an entire day at home playing video games, and you control both.
But how do you go about this neighborhood? Well, there is an array of transportation to choose from. Cars of different values and speed limits (yes, it actually affects how fast sims drive), boats, motorcycles, brooms and more. You can even ride a horse to your destination, or a unicorn.
If your Sim is an athletics buff, they can jog to work, to a salon, or really just plain anywhere. The open-world concept of The Sims 3 offers a deep immersion into a variety of lifestyles and makes you an actual part of the neighborhood community if you choose to be.
Sims’ Traits and Hidden Traits Make Them Do Crazy Stuff
In The Sims 3 traits are an integral part of both gameplay and role-play. Every Sim has a certain number of traits, and their number depends on age. This includes pets too. An adult Sim has 5 traits and can get 2 more. Sim pets start with 3 traits, but can learn more through training. Overall, there is a pool of 99 traits to choose from.
Traits affect how a Sim feels, what they do and how they do it, what they want out of life and relationships, and much more. For example, Sims with an Over-Emotional trait will stop to fuss about any little thing that disturbs them, and delay performing an action. Sims with Commitment Issues will be hard to force into a marriage or having kids, and if you do force them they won’t be happy. Slobs won’t mind if your house is dirty, but neat Sims will refuse to use dirty objects and always clean them before using them. Unstable Sims will have to get medical treatment quite often, and Daredevils will play in the snow in their bathing suits.
Not all traits can be chosen though. Hidden traits are exactly that, but they still affect your Sims. For example, a firefighter will get the Immune to Fire trait, while their offspring may get the Pyromaniac trait. And you won’t even know it. Well, until you see it. Yes, the genetics system is also a thing in The Sims 3, and it can be a surprise.
Sims’ Personalities Are the Best Element of the Game
Personality is the best feature, and a best example of many reasons to play The Sims 3. It is quite a remarkable and complex system that deserves its own article, so I will just touch on it here.
Traits add up to a personality which significantly determines who your Sim is. They culminate in a Lifetime Wish, the single most important wish that a Sim wants to achieve in life, such as becoming a Gold Digger. Another aspect of Sim’s personality is their favorite food, music and color, and their zodiac sign. A zodiac sign is a part of the chemistry system and determines who your Sim will be attracted to. Favorite food also has an impact on your Sim’s life, because eating it will give you a special animation (they clap in excitement), and it will give your Sim a positive moodlet.
Personality is the most important aspect of any Sim. It pushes you down the mountain that is the Sim’s life and lets you navigate it as you see fit. It determines how a Sim behaves and what they will prefer to do. For example, a Sim with a Diva trait will slap those Sims who insult them. But, if a diva also has a Good trait, they won’t slap them because they’re above it.
How it all culminates together can maybe be best shown in the next example:
In one of my playthroughs, Agnes Crumplebottom became a witch, resurrected her dead husband Erik and they adopted two children, a son Damien and a daughter Lilah. When the children grew up, I created perfect spouses for each. They had fairy tale weddings, and children, and all was well. But once I transferred them to their new homes and let them play out as NPCs, it turned out their spouses were cheating on them all the time, even among themselves. Yes, Agnes’ daughter-in-law and son-in-law had an affair! And I was very careful when constructing their personalities. Why that happened still puzzles me. But hey, such is life.
There’s More to Sims’ Skills
The skill system in The Sims 3 is complex. Skills start at level zero and can be built up to level 10. When a Sim starts building a new skill they have to work towards achieving level 1, just as they would for any other level of that skill. After reaching a final level, a Sim will get a reward certificate which you can display proudly on the wall, or sell for §1000.
And the best thing about it is that level 10 is just a milestone.
What adds to the complexity of skills in The Sims 3 is that they can form central parts of some careers, like a Sculptor or Writer Career. They can also add to the overall complexity of a Sim’s life, like with charisma skill where you can’t progress beyond a certain level without having a certain number of friends.
For example, Damien’s son Robin had a Jockey Lifetime Wish. To achieve it, he first had to become a self-employed Horseman and max his riding skill. Then, he adopted a horse Toril, became friends with him, and maxed Toril’s riding and jumping skills. When their needs were fulfilled and their moods high, they were ready to win some equestrian competitions and progress in Robin’s career. Even then, they would sometimes lose and have to try multiple times before winning a trophy. But hey, such is life.
Skill journal contains extensive information about each skill and tracks your Sim’s progress. Each skill contains multiple challenges that you can complete and earn perks: for example, completing Always Wanted challenge for Street Art skill will let you paint graffiti anywhere without permission or getting in trouble.
In addition to challenges, the skill journal contains other useful information. An interesting example of The Sims 3 skill system is fishing skill, where you can catch a desired type of fish by learning how to lure it. You can learn different lures by purchasing and reading fishing books from a bookstore. If you want to catch a tuna, you will have to find a spot in the water where tuna lives and lure it with an onion. All of that information is later stored in the journal.
And Then There’s Create a Style (CAS)
This element is unique to The Sims 3, and it shouldn’t be confused with Create a Sim (also CAS). It allows you to completely customize almost any surface, area, or piece of fabric you like. It features a complete color wheel which allows you to choose literally any color you like, and shading to choose any tone of the selected color. There are also about a dozen categories filled with numerous patterns, which are also fully customizable.
Do you like those pants, but hate every given color? No problem; go to CAS and tweak it a little, or customize the life out of it if you want to.
CAS can be used on almost everything, from walls in your Sim’s house, rugs, cars, and bedside lamps, to clothing, shoes and even jewelry. It can also be used to create all kinds of colors and patterns on your pet’s fur. For example, you can make a pink cat with blue stripes. Don’t know why would anyone ever use this, but whatever rocks your boat! If you want it, you can have it!
According to You Tuber Pleasant Sims, some fans found this element of The Sims 3 quite overwhelming. It’s true, there are so many options, and it gets dizzying sometimes. But that’s the fun of it, you don’t have to use CAS. You can use it all the time, just sometimes, or never at all.
The Sims 3 knows that it is your game, and the choice is ultimately yours.
Conclusion: To Play or Not to Play
The Sims 3 offers realistic immersion into a simulated environment. Different elements don’t just stand out on their own but form a part of a larger collective. You will never be forced to do something, like build a skill, just for the sake of doing it. There is no doubt that the game is old, laggy and frequently unstable (which can be helped with mods). In truth, sometimes the effort of playing The Sims 3 feels like an abusive relationship. But there is a reason why over 2,000 players still play The Sims 3 every month on Steam alone.
The reason is stories. In The Sims 3, you can create amazing nuanced stories, with sub-plots and incredible depth. There are no two Sims and no two playthroughs alike. In The Sims 3, you always have something to do, what you do always has an impact on another element, and you will always feel like you have a purpose and a reason to keep playing. The Sims 3 was released on June 1, 2009, and is available to play on EA Play, the EA App and Steam for PC and Mac, as well as Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.
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