Become a kindly doctor. Or deck out your sweet apartment. Or become a reviled maniac who only talks to trees. All of these choices are yours when you play the Sims series of games. Easily the Electronic Arts’ most anticipated title of this year, The Sims 3 will launch on June 2nd for not only the Mac and PC, but also the iPhone. iPhone owners can look forward to playing the mirth-filled, quirky, and addictive person simulator in a handy mobile version. The ambitious project aims to be the deepest, richest, and most graphically beautiful game released to the iPhone to date.
I sat down with Chris Dreyer, a product marketing manager at EA Mobile, and Sims 3 producer Justin Taber to preview what they claim is the “biggest game to date for EA Mobile.”
Dreyer and Taber are calling the Sim’s town a “living neighborhood” where players can experience robust interactions with the different Sim personalities. Dreyer cites the game’s Artificial Intelligence — AI — is something they especially focused on; EA Mobile wanted to ensure the Sim could fend for itself in “self-reliant” mode and the other Sims in the world go can about their own daily routines. Fans of the previous editions of the Sims often cited the focus on bodily functions as an annoying chore, but with the Sims 3 you won’t have to constantly make sure your Sim goes to the bathroom or eats. On self-reliant mode, Sims will take care of themselves, or you can override the feature and guide them yourself.
Not only can you interact with other Sims, but you can get a job, explore the world, and fill the individual Sim’s wishes and needs. During the demo, Mr. Dreyer showed me how to command my Sim to cook. There’s a cooking mini-game that requires the player to pick up the pots in order to have them cool. If you leave a pot on for too long, your food will be burnt and inedible. The interface, though small, was nonetheless intuitive. The cooking mini-game isn’t just a side distraction, as the game progresses, your Sim can invite others over for dinner. Better not burn the spaghetti then.
In fact, this may be the first 3-D iPhone game to depict actual facial expressions. Like anything in the Sims universe, there are lots of little details throughout that will give players reason to smile and in many cases, laugh. The morbid sense of humor that accompanies the Sim universe is intact as well.
My favorite element of the game was the different personalities that you can play with and their own goals. If you select the “maniac” persona, you’ll have some unique wishes and opportunities. You can satisfy your social interaction requirement by talking to trees. Your life goals may include peeing in every toilet in town. Or watching three people sleep.
The skeptic in me wonders if an intricate game like the Sims can be converted to a mobile platform so seamlessly. While the spirit of the Sims 3 seems to have been ported to the iPhone, I wonder if their attempts to cut out the fat of the game they may have cut out much of what you can explore and do.
Still, EA claims it’ll take the player around 12 hours to beat 70 goals in the game, and that proposed run time is nothing to sneeze at. There’s also a high degree of replay value, not to mention more goals, if you replay the game with a different personality and steer the Sim’s life differently. Instead of getting a kind, nature-loving all-around character, why not go for a shy, combative, maniac? Not only will your character have different wishes, but the other Sims will respond to them differently as well.
Look for the Sims 3 on the App Store on June 2nd.