There is no denying the success of the Sims series. Ever since the series debuted back in 2000 it has risen to the level that few franchises ever reach; 150 million copies of the various games sold worldwide and release on nearly every single console that you could name during its tenure. Well, next week the Sims will returns with an all new expansion for the Sims 3. The Sims 3 Pets launches on the PC, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3 next Tuesday. The PC version of the game is being offered as an expansion pack which can be installed on top of the base game while the two console ports are be released as stand-alone titles. This past week I got a chance to sit down with the Xbox 360 version of the game to see what sort of experience fans have coming to them next week.
The Sims 3 Pets very similar to the base Sims 3 experience, only now you can take direct control of your furry friends from the animal kingdom. In addition to creating your own family of Sims, you can now design cats and dogs to go along with them (as well as horses in the PC version). The personalities of the animals plays as big of a role in your sims world as the standard Sims do, perhaps even more so in this game. One of the first things that stood out to me about the game is the level of detail you can go into during the pet creation process.
In addition to trait and personality options which you expect the sim pets to have, there are visual options aplenty. Don’t get me wrong, the creation options for creating your human Sims is pretty detailed, but the pet creation tools take things to a whole new level. Imagine the same creation options available in a game like Forza Motorsport applied to your furry friends. First off, you can choose from more than 100 breeds of your animal of choice. Regardless of your preference, siamese cat, labrador retriever, tuxedo feline, or even miniature poodle, the choices seem endless. It is after you make your breed selection though when the magic begins to happen.
You can modify and tweak near every fine detail of your animal friend. The game allows you create and add layers of detail, allowing you to alter the visual look and coat of your animal any way you please. Talented game “artists” should have no problem recreating their real-life animal friends in the game; I am anything but an artist with tools like this but had no time recreating our household animals very accurately. To make things even more entertaining, you can share your creations with other players online.
There is even a special “breeding” aspect to the game. As long as your pets are of the same species, they can breed and create entirely breeds of cat or dog. This has been a lot of fun in my house as we have created new pets over and over again just to mess with the breeding variations that can result. Imagine breeding a bright pink poodle with a dalmatian that has yellow spots. Those are the sorts of new breeds, or as some would say, abominations, that you can toy around with and then share with others online.
The game plays a lot like the console version(s) of the original Sims 3 release only with expanded options tailored specifically for your pets. Pets now have their own personality traits that can be assigned to them and thanks to their increased interaction with the human Sims, the human Sims get a couple new traits to use as well. Perhaps your Sim is allergic to fur or more of a cat person than a dog one; all of those sorts of things play a major role in the game now. The pet involvement also leads to a couple of new lifetime wishes that you can achieve over time.
Life in Sims 3 Pets isn’t all about voyeurism though, you’ll do more than just watch them all interact with one another. During the exploration of the new town, Sugar Maple Coast, there are a variety of storylines that you can embark on. Whether your thing is seeking out buried pirate treasure or becoming a master inventor, you and your animal companion can follow a variety of clues and hints that will lead you on a mystery that unfolds as you play. This really adds a lot of depth to the standard Sims gameplay and creates a good bonding experience for your Sims and their pets.
While the PC version of the game will have the advantage of offering players horses in addition to cats and dogs, the Xbox 360 version has a feature that neither of the other two do: voice commands. The game supports the Xbox 360 Kinect peripheral and allows you to play the game using verbal commands. Don’t get too excited, it isn’t really an open system as there is a huge list of preprogrammed commands in the game which you can read through and use as you play. The good thing though is that the vocal commands can be used throughout nearly the entire experience, including Sim creation.
To be honest, I feel that I have barely scratched the surface with this game in the three to four hours with the game. There is a ton to do and the customization options feel endless. I will be spending the rest of the weekend living vicariously through my Sims family, along with their various pets, in order to bring you a full review of the Xbox 360 version of the game next week. Check back next Tuesday when I can spill the beans on the full experience.