The Sims 3 was probably the most highly anticipated iPhone game of 2009. And rightly so. The Sims franchise is a juggernaut in the gaming world – but how does the mobile incarnation measure up? Released simultaneously with its PC counterpart, The Sims 3 for iPhone is not a direct port of the PC game – and was designed specifically for the iPhone with the iPhone gamer in mind.
Sims 3 for the iPhone starts with the Sim creation screen. Here you can customize the appearance of your Sim – you can choose your gender, change the skin color, eye color, hair, clothes and shoes. The options for customization are not as comprehensive as you’d find in the PC version, but there are enough options to make your Sim unique. The most important part of creating your Sim however, is choosing their Persona. You can choose from six different personas, including Jack of all Trades, Nice Guy, Jerk, Sleaze, Power Seeker and Maniac. Your Sim’s persona decides their “Personal Goals”, and provides an overall structure for the game. Jack of all Trades for example has the life wish of reaching the highest skill level in cooking, repairing and fishing. Additionally, you can choose five ‘traits’ for your Sim – traits include things like a good sense of humor, being active, friendly, neat or neurotic.
In addition to the life-time wishes associated with your Sim’s persona, there are also little wishes that pop into your Sims head from time to time. Things like a desire to grow carrots, stay well-fed for 3 days or to catch a fish. There are purported to be about 75 personal wishes in all, and you can have 5 wishes “locked-in” at any one time. However, if you fulfill a wish that is not locked-in at the time – you won’t get credit for completing it. While not essential, especially in a game that doesn’t really have a specific point to it, the wishes do add variety and keep the game ticking along nicely.
As far as actual game play goes, The Sims 3 for iPhone doesn’t stray far from that playing style of its predecessors – and that’s a good thing. You will still spend most of your game time tending to your Sim’s 5 needs – Hunger, Energy, Bladder, Hygiene, Social and Fun. When you first start a game, your Sim is given a small house already kitted out with everything needed to fulfil their needs – fridge, bed, toilet, shower, phone and TV. Once you get a job and start earning some money, you can upgrade these basic posessions and also upgrade your house. On the 5th day of play, the upgrade feature appears – and you can choose to upgrade for §1000. For one thing – upgrading your house allows you to grow your own vegetables, saving you from constant trips to the supermarket.
But §1000 isn’t chump-change in The Sims 3 on iPhone – and to earn money you need a career. There are four careers available to your Sim: Politics, Biology, Culinary and Business. To start your career it’s as easy as walking up to the right building in town and accepting the job. Each job has different hours and pay rates, and what you do is really up to you.
Your sim has social needs too – and building and progressing a relationship in The Sims 3 is probably one of most enjoyable aspects of the game. You can engage with another sim simply by tapping on them – which brings up a menu of conversational options, such as compliment, humor and romance. You can guage the other Sim’s reaction to you from “+” signs above their heads. As you get to know the Sim better, your “relationship” status progresses – as indicated by a green bar in the bottom of the screen. Progress far enough – and you might even get the option of being able to “WooHoo”.
There are a couple of mini-games in The Sims 3, and fishing is an example of one executed well. Cooking on the otherhand, can feel like more of a chore. You need recipes to cook for your Sim – and they can be bought from the Bistro in town. The annoying thing is though, if you lack even one of the ingredients, you can’t cook it. You can’t just make something up with what you have. Your Sim has to trudge back to the town map, then to the supermarket to pick up the one item you forgot. 5 minutes of loading screens later, and you’re finally back in your house and cooking. The need for individual ingredients feels like an over-complication to me, and is my only criticism of the game-play in The Sims 3. That and the pesky loading screens.
As far as graphics and sound go – I have no complaints. The visuals are some of the best I’ve seen in an iPhone game. They’re bright and colorful and stay true to the “look and feel” of the series. I came across a few frame-rate issues, but nothing major. Sometimes you just have to remind yourself you’re playing this game on your phone.
Bottom Line: The Sims we all know and love – on the iPhone. Not perfect, but a thoroughly enjoyable game that comes highly recommended. Download the Sims 3.
The Sims 3 requires the 2.2 iPhone software update and is compatible with both the iPhone & iPod Touch.