Excited as I was about the launch of The Sims 3, and though I am still enjoying the game immensely, not everything in Simonia is rosy. Lest you think I am a rabid EA fangrrl (because that’s what you are if you like a game, a rabid devotee of the company that makes it), today’s coverage focuses on those things about TS3 that irritate me.
Syp mentioned in a recent post about the game that the item selection is somewhat limited, and that players must use their precious dollars to purchase additional items from the Sim Store if they want to add more variety to the game. That, or wait for expansions which will undoubtedly have a few new clothing items, hairstyles, or decor items.
Syp’s right; the selection is pretty small when it comes to hairstyles, clothing, furniture, and construction tools. Sure, the amount of items available when The Sims 2 launched was pretty small as well, building over time with expansions and “stuff packs.” Also true is that the create-a-style feature, in which the player can change the color, pattern, and texture of nearly every item in the game, adds a degree of variety to the limited selection.
However, when the game launches with such a limited amount of items and the Sim Store — on launch day — has four new furniture sets available for purchase, one has to wonder if EA is simply angling for more money. Players already paid $50 for the game, more for the collector’s edition; they don’t want to be asked to contribute more of their hard earned cash to gain access to items that probably should have been offered straight out of the box.
There are no hot tubs in The Sims 3, a popular item in the previous games and an alternative place for romantic Sims to woohoo. (They were especially beneficial for two-timing Sims who lived in one-room apartments. Bed occupied by your sleeping spouse? Head out back and hop in the hot tub!)
Another thing missing is a large aquarium. I made a new Sim recently whose lifetime wish is to have thirteen different species of fish swimming in aquariums in his house. In TS3, this can only be done by buying 13 individual goldfish bowls and housing one fish in each. Perhaps if there was a multi-fish aquarium, this lifetime wish would be less annoying. Especially when you consider I have to feed each fish individually.
Don’t get me wrong. Customization is AWESOME in this game. There are immense opportunities for customizing anything and everything. The character creation is especially dazzling, with endless possibilities for skin color, hair color, facial proportions, and more.
My beef with customization in The Sims 3 is that body parts do not have individual sliders. Facial features have sliders galore, but the rest of the body has two: thin to fat and scrawny to muscular. Sims are all the same height, have the same proportional figures, the same leg and arm lengths. I know my recent post about Team Fortress 2 decried the oversexualization of female avatars, but I find the lack of a bust or waist slider in TS3 appalling.
Breast sizes for Sims stay relatively the same — small. While this means we won’t be subjected to millions of user-created videos depicting tiny-waisted and huge-breasted Sim ladies, it also means that there isn’t much in the way of body customization. I applaud the game designers for allowing the weight bar to go as far as it does; players can make extremely obese Sims. However, even at the fattest end of the spectrum, the breasts are still fairly tiny. It makes it difficult to be true to life.
It’s a very, very minor detail, but I don’t see why these extra sliders couldn’t be added. Aside from the breast issue, I’m sure Boyfriend would have enjoyed making a freakish looking Sim with extremely broad shoulders and a teeny tiny waist, or ridiculously long legs on a very short Sim. I was able to make this lovely, unique Sim (pictured below) with the character creator, but there’s nothing I can do to customize her below the neck aside from changing her clothes. It just feels like a missed opportunity.
The trait system is a brilliant addition to The Sims. Instead of having to assign various levels of cleanliness, friendliness, etc., Sims have five trait slots to fill from a list of many interesting traits. I don’t have a problem with the system in and of itself. No, my problem is with traits that are confusing or annoying.
See, when you create a new Sim from scratch, you can assign any five traits to him. But if you grow a Sim — that is, raise him from pregnancy to adulthood — you can only choose his traits if his previous life stage (fetus, toddler, child, or teen) was successful. Otherwise, the game will assign a random trait. For the most part, I don’t mind the randomness; it adds more of a challenge where I otherwise would pick beneficial traits like “genius” or “lucky” or “neat.”
There is one trait, however, that I was unlucky enough to see assigned to one of my Sim children and it made playing the Sim a source of frustration. That trait? “Technophobe.” Having a technophobic Sim is incredibly annoying for me, as my playstyle generally involves letting my Sims watch TV or play on the computer for entertainment. Not so for the technophobic Sim. She can’t stand using such devices and even refuses to be in the same room as an active television, receiving a negative moodlet until she leaves the room or it’s shut off.
While I’m sure there are some people out there who “fear” technology — who don’t understand, don’t want to learn how to use it, or fear that the rise of technology means the end of the world as we know it — I doubt that those people are so afraid that they can’t stand to be near a television. Even if that kind of person is that frightened, and my Sim’s behavior is based on that fear, it doesn’t explain why she feels perfectly comfortable using her cellular phone. She also feels fine using slightly older technology like electric lights, automobiles, and modern appliances. But don’t get her near that computer!
One other trait that bugs me is the “vegetarian” trait. I actually find the trait interesting and have assigned it to a few Sims, but it’s somewhat difficult to play. Vegetarians can cook any meal that regular Sims can, with the exception of spaghetti, hamburgers, and hot dogs (all of which they cook a substitute vegetarian version). That means they can cook the more ambiguous meals, eat them, and I won’t realize I’ve done something wrong until they’re running for the toilets 10 minutes later. Ratatouille is one of the menu options, a dish whose ingredients — despite having seen the Pixar film of the same name multiple times — I am completely ignorant of. Another ambiguous one is Eggs Machiavellian. Do my vegetarian Sims consider eggs off limits?
Considering the length of this post, you might think I’m more frustrated with the game than I actually am. I really do enjoy the game; I just wanted to make it clear that there are a number of things that disappointed me and things that could be improved. Pets and universities will be a good addition to the game, as well as some of the other things I mentioned above.
In the meantime, I’m still having a wonderful time playing TS3. I played TS2 on fast forward much of the time, trying to speed through my Sims’ lives to get tasks accomplished. In TS3, I feel much more content to let the game run at its normal speed and simply watch my Sims live. Following my plant Sim as she jogs through the neighborhood or pausing to appreciate the sunset over the river while she reels in a few catfish can be very relaxing.