Sims 3: Pets
Those delightfully devious sims return for this console outing, and they’ve brought along their fluffy friends for us to wreak even more havoc with! Even though it ends up feeling a little bit like the runt of the pack when compared to other versions, there is still lots of fun to be had in Sugar Maple Coast.
Spot the Difference!
You’d be forgiven for not noticing much of a difference between The Sims 3: Pets and The Sims 3 console game released previously, because there really aren’t any major differences between the two, barring the addition of pets.
However, if you take the console version of The Sims 3: Pets and compare it to the PC version there are some fairly hefty differences. Not the least of which being that you are limited to only creating cats and dogs in the console version, meaning console goers miss out on horses and various other animals appearing on its PC counterpart.
Consolists will also find themselves restricted to the relatively small town of Sugar Maple Coast, whereas PC players have access to the massive area called the Appaloosa Plains. Regardless of these differences, if you forget that the PC version exists, this really isn’t a bad Sims game for consoles.
Variety is the spice…
The main selling point making this pets iteration stand out from the previous pets expansions, is that you can (finally!) fully control the pets you create. With this comes lifetime goals, wishes, basic needs and all the other usual stuff that’s normally only associated with the sims themselves. They can yet again have their own jobs, and though not as crazy as the jobs in previous games it’s still amusing to see your canine companion travel to work in its own car.
There is a massive amount of customization when it comes to sim and pet creation. Whilst not only being able to choose from the assorted built-in styles and colors, you can also opt to create your own style, or alternatively check out the Sims Exchange to see what styles other console players have come up with. Regarding animals, there are heaps of animal breeds, coat colors and patterns to choose from – the sky’s the limit!
In terms of sound, there’s nothing really new or groundbreaking here. The ear candy is the usual sims style of fairly accurate environmental/activity based sounds with the odd pantomime commiseration sound when something goes wrong. All of this is backed up by a decent soundtrack which, though enjoyable at first, gets a bit repetitive if you plan on playing the game more than a few hours. It’s likely you’ll be glad of the options to turn off the various music and sounds.
The same applies to the graphics – nothing outstandingly new apart from a bit of polish on the game as a whole. Not that this is necessarily all bad, the graphical style coupled with listening to your sims babble away in Simlish (the games language) is a big part of the entire feel of the game.
Play with Life
If you’re wondering what there is to do in the game other than lock your sims in a small room with no toilet (a classic), then you should note that there are 5 mystery quests lines to complete. All of which are reasonably long and the story lines are quite humorous. They will have you leveling up your sims/pets skills and running around exploring the various areas within Sugar Maple Coast to complete the objectives.
There are 2 pet specific quest lines; The cats world domination quest line will have you sitting on… well anything really, in search of the perfect throne for ruling the world. While the canine missions will take you all around town to try to find and rescue a lost boy Lassie style.
The downside to this is that to travel around different parts of the town you’re required to hit the loading screens fairly often. While the load screens aren’t extortionately long (visibly improved after installing the game onto the hard drive), it jolts the experience a bit to be met with them so often.
All of the missions and wishes you complete reward you Karma points, which you can spend on Karma powers. Karma powers were introduced in the original The Sims 3 and they have taken the opportunity to expand on them here, giving you various abilities like “Transmogrify” – to turn your pet into a human or vice-versa. Or the power to instantly fill up all your sims’/pets’ need bars to keep you going through the long haunted nights and go to work the next morning.
Who ‘ya gonna call?
General gameplay gives you all the things you love about the Sims series, EA haven’t given the series the tagline “Play with Life” for nothing. You can create any kind of lifestyle you can think of, from ghost hunting with your telepathic cat, to treasure hunting with your ol’ faithful dog. Unfortunately, the inventory system isn’t really up to scratch when it comes to reaping your rewards after digging and hunting with your respective cat or dog. For example, you might end up with a multitude of “large space rocks” in different weights and prices to sell and have to queue up actions with each one rather than do the entire inventory at once.
You can also be ambushed by some strange camera angles and movements and there are some noticeable framerate issues when speeding up time. Luckily neither is enough to detract too much from the charm of living any virtual life you please.
The Sims 3: Pets is a charming addition to a very tried and true formula. It’s a big shame that there is so much that didn’t carry over from the PC version, but for a newcomer to the series with no way of basking in the greener grass on the PC side, it’s a good start. I find myself disappointed that they don’t support their previous console based customers, whom may already have invested hundreds of hours on The Sims 3 only to find that they have to start over if they want pets.
The game will definitely warm your heart with the addition of these cuddly companions, but it certainly won’t warm your wallet by being a standalone game all too similar to The Sims 3.
Miss; Moving around town really is a chore with all the loading screens and it’s not anywhere near as big as the PC version.
Need; Character imports from the previous game and well… all the other content from it’s PC sister!