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The Sims 3 Review

There's a very good chance that you've heard about The Sims. It's been difficult to escape the popular franchise's web, what with two full games and a seemingly endless stream of expansions. The first thing you may be asking, then, is whether The Sims 3 is worth playing, or if it's just more of the same. Well, it most certainly is worth it, and yes, in some ways it is more of the same. But in this case, that's a very good thing. For anyone who's played The Sims or its first sequel, this familiarity will let them ease into it, feeling like a welcomed guest rather than an outsider. But this doesn't make The Sims 3 a simple rehash of what's come before. Instead, returning elements have been energized and extended by a number of terrific improvements, such as expanded customization tools, additional tools for interaction with other sims (and other players), and more tangible goals and rewards. Most importantly, the free-to-explore town makes you feel like part of an entire virtual society--a feature approximated but never fully realized in the previous games. By blending together the old and the new, developer Maxis has created the best, most charming game yet in the series.

One of the reasons for the franchise's success is how easy the games are to run on a variety of computers, and The Sims 3 is no exception; it's very scalable, so chances are that if you have a relatively modern PC, you'll probably be able to run the game. The visuals are colorful and crisp, and a noticeable step up from The Sims 2. Sim movements continue to be the highlight of the presentation, and zooming in close is always a fun treat, especially when your sims are engaging in a particularly animated exchange, such as telling a joke. Buildings like the theater and city hall look attractive, and the soft sway of trees and bushes makes the town look pleasantly suburban. Nevertheless, the game's performance does continue some unfortunate trends of Sims games past. Performance is a bit sluggish when you scroll across the town or follow your sim as he or she travels. And though the pathfinding has improved, sims sometimes still have difficulties getting from point A to point B without going through some odd animations or complaining that there's someone in the way. Unsurprisingly, the game sounds absolutely charming. The jaunty tunes that accompany the Build and Buy modes and the tunes that play when you turn on the radio are terrific, perhaps the best in the series. Some sound effects are recycled, but The Sims 3 doesn't feel cheapened as a result; it strikes a chord of familiarity that works to the game's benefit.

So what is it that makes The Sims 3 even more addictive than its predecessors? It's partially due to the deft handling of rewards; it doles out new social options, new aspirations, and the possibility of better furniture and wood flooring at a slow but even pace, which keeps you tied to your computer for hours at a time. It offers the element of surprise, showing off its abundant charms through funny social interactions that make you want to be part of the improved virtual community. Although it could have offered even more right out of the box, there's still an awful lot of content here, and it's bound to put a smile on almost anyone's face.



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