Version Reviewed: 1.0.85
Graphics / Sound [rating:4/5]
Game Controls [rating:4/5]
iPhone Integration [rating:4.5/5]
User Interface [rating:4/5]
Re-use / Replay Value [rating:3.5/5]
Finally! A real game takes the place of The Moron Test as #1 paid app!
Before I start, I'd like to mention that I'm not reviewing this game as a sequel to The Sims 1 and 2, considering the previous two games weren't released for the iPhone. The Sims 3 for the iPhone is, and should be, a very different game from the PC version and shouldn't be compared to previous Sim-related games - The Sims 3 is the very first Sims for the iPhone.
I haven't played The Sims 3 for PC/Mac but I've read up on the features and for the iPhone it is a stripped down version, which it obviously has to be. But that doesn't mean that this isn't a time-consuming game, I've played for over 8 hours so far and there are still things to do. For anyone who hasn't played The Sims or The Sims 2 (where have you been for the last decade?), the basic idea of the game is to create a character and live it's life - keep it happy by making it eat, keep good hygiene, making sure it's well-rested, etc. You have complete control over your "Sim" (unless you turn on the "auto" mode but where's the fun in that?). The amount of things you can do with your Sim for this iPhone version is rather impressive. I'd like to split up my descriptions of the features into six categories: town, dialogue, hobbies/mini-games, goals, money, and build mode.
Town. Once you decide that you are comfortable to take your Sim out of the starting house that it's given, you can enter the neighborhood that your Sim lives in. This was a brand new feature for me even for a Sims game - my experience with the series stopped after a few expansions into the very first game where your play was limited to your own house. The neighborhood consists of other Sims' houses (obviously), a few places to work, a few places to shop, and the lake. The shopping is centered strongly around the hobbies that are available to you, which I will describe later, and jobs are just as boring as I remember from the Sims 1 (you still don't actually "go" to work, you bring your Sim to the place of work and the time instantly passes to when you are getting off). The lack of the work experience bothers me, if EA could create mini-games for the hobbies they could have given us mini-games for each of the different jobs you could obtain: the town hall, the laboratory, the Corsican bistro, and the Quickmart. Each of the Sims in the neighborhood have houses that are visitable by your Sim, complete with the ability to do anything you wish there if the neighbor allows you in. That's right, creep out another Sim that barely knows you by using their shower or raiding their fridge - those are actually goals! (I'll get to those later)
Dialogue. You can interact with other Sims, not other human-controlled Sims unfortunately. Once you leave your starting house for the first time, you can encounter a Sim walking around the neighborhood by tapping them (they displayed by a tiny yellow person that seems to hover), talk to them at the lake, or visit their houses individually. The amount of options while interacting with Sims are fairly extensive, some of which are talking about your different accomplishments (centered around your hobbies), obviously romantic options (for those of you who don't want a lonely Sim), earn promotions for your job, and a variety of actions like insulting, slapping, and arguing.
Hobbies. Hobbies available for your Sim to fill their time with include cooking, fishing, and repairing. I'm going to include gardening in this category as well but, unlike the other three, it doesn't have a mini-game. In the city, the hobby shop sells a repair kit, a fishing kit, a watering can, fertilizer, and a variety of different vegetable seeds - these items obviously correspond with the repairing, fishing, and gardening hobbies. For cooking, you use a combination of the Quickmart (for ingredients), the Corsican Bistro(for recipes), and the option to use your gardening and fishing skills to aid it (gardening for vegetables and fishing for fish). The cooking is probably the most in-depth hobby and it is also almost a must because if you don't cook for yourself you must either dine-in at the Bistro or get a lot of "quick snacks" from your fridge in order to keep your hunger bar up. Although that isn't the only way to keep your hunger bar up - if you're low on cash, (or just a mooch) you can go into any other Sims' house and get quick snacks from their refrigerators without the charge of $10 you pay every time you eat from your own. The mini-games for each hobby are incredibly boring and unbelievably easy, but this doesn't surprise me. The Sims have always been developed to be easy to use for computer-illiterate grandparents and uncoordinated, twelve year-old girls. For the fishing game you simply tilt your phone to keep the pole near the fish until a symbol pops up and you pull the phone up, I've never not caught a fish in this game. For cooking, you touch pots when they are getting hot (glowing red) and gently shake the iPhone to cool them. A strange thing I noticed, when cooking grilled cheese you are still cooling multiple pots with green and red liquid...I'll pass on eating a Sim-cooked meal. As for the repairing mini-game, you drag broken parts on a circuit board to a trash can and replace the parts with the same shaped, new piece. Overall, I was slightly bored with the mini-games but it gave me something to do to raise my hobby's levels instead of simply watching my Sim do something.[caption id="attachment_11808" align="aligncenter" width="480" caption="mmm, grilled cheese..."]
Goals. EA added a "goal" or achievement system that helps give The Sims 3 a more clear objective. A lot of times in games as open as The Sims, it's easy to get bored from the lack of objective. Sure you can waste hours on certain days, but on others you wonder why you've purchased games like this - they have no point. The Sims 3's goals give you that objective. You can start up the game and immediately have something to do. Currently there are 73 available goals, all of which seem to come up at random as "wishes" to your Sim and are all of varying difficulty. "Meet a new Sim" is much easier than "Stay entertained for 3 days". There are also slightly funny goals like "Use another Sim's shower" and "Creep out another Sim". I can imagine there will be more goals added with updates. At least I hope there are more, I already have completed 45/73 in two days!
Money. I've encountered four possible ways to make money in the game so far: a job (duh!), doing tasks for other Sims, selling vegetables from your garden, and selling fish. The least profitable of these tasks is selling vegetables from your garden - you have to buy the seeds and fertilizer for each plant and the sell price for vegetables aren't very high. The most profitable should be a job. But it turns out that since the fishing game is so easy (and since a Tuna sells for $100 a fish while my current job as Vice President of the Town Hall gives me $300 a day!), fishing is the most profitable activity. I went the whole first day of playing the game getting money only from fishing. I quit doing this because it was starting to become boring and I wanted to check out the job part of the game for this review. For your job, you must first of all get hired by walking to the place you'd like to work and pressing "Get Job". After this you have to get your Sim to work around the time you're required to be there each day. You are presented with opportunities to steal from work for more money, but this can result in getting fired. Promotions are easy to get, at least for me they were because I was sleeping with my boss... (yes, you can do that!). Tasks from other Sims seem to come up rather randomly while you're talking to them, but some have seemed to spark from conversation. I once "boasted about my fishing feats" and the Sim asked me to give him a salmon for $200. I was able to instantly give him one since I had it in my inventory, but if you don't you can simply go get one and bring it back to him. Some funny tasks I've been asked to do were to slap someone and to kick over a Sim's trash can. If you want to get money fast, fish. If you don't want to die of boredom, get a job.
Build Mode. The house editor doesn't have nearly as much variety as other Sims games have in the past, but it is sufficient. You cannot build your own house like you could in other games but it would have been hard to create one with an iPhone anyway. There are only normally 3-6 options for each piece of furniture and to get more area in your house you must purchase "upgrades" which add space and give extra rooms. I was kind of disappointed with the options of items you could buy but I still haven't made enough money to buy the most expensive of everything yet and more items seem to unlock as I play along, so I'm hopeful that it will get better. I wouldn't be surprised if future updates added a lot more items. I would be even less surprised if you could buy pieces of furniture for REAL money once the ability to purchase "in-app" content comes out with the new update.
Problems, Wishes, and Misses
Problems. CRASHING!!! This app must have crashed a total of about 6-8 times on me in the 8 hours I played it over the last couple days. Restarting my iPhone seemed to help but didn't stop it from happening again. I feel confident that updates will help reduce the amount of crashes. Another problem that I encountered was when an item in your house breaks (to show that you need to repair it) while the cooking mini-game is going on, the camera goes to the break and doesn't allow you to finish the mini-game - causing you to burn your food and lose your ingredients. Again, I hope this is fixed in updates.
Wishes. I want more mini-games, preferably for each job. And these mini-games better be much harder. Obviously, there needs to be more furniture options but it almost isn't worth mentioning because I am almost positive that it will happen in future updates. I would like more hobbies and higher levels for the current hobbies because I'm already maxed out in gardening and fishing, repairing and cooking are close behind. And, of course, I want some kind of multiplayer interaction, maybe create online neighborhoods that only hold 10-15 players at a time and allow Sims to chat, play mini-games against each other, etc.
Misses. Bookshelves. There are bookshelves that you can put in your house but don't do anything important for the Sim. Let me read cook books to improve my cooking or create some kind of intelligence stat that is important for something, don't give me a useless feature.
I think if EA updates this game often, which I don't doubt that they will, this is a great buy. I've sunk the most time into this game than any other game on the iPhone so far (though I've yet to try Zenonia). Is this a full-feature iPhone game? Close, I deem it worth the $10 at least.