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The Sims 3 on PC and Mac reports to be a whole new world for your simulated life creations. However, I felt this struggled to feel more than another expansion pack, albeit with smarter graphics and a some interesting new features.
Whenever I used to play Sims games back in the day, it always ended the same way; with me torturing and murdering my Sims in some obscurely horrific manner. Frankly, hand-feeding virtual people and guiding them to the toilet is not my idea of fun. However, the objective-based gameplay of the Sims 3 on Mac and PC, and the life of my character Stuart MacGuffin managed to stay my sadistic tendencies, albeit only just.
Stuart MacGuffin was a Scotsman by birth, and had emigrated from the granite townhouses of Aberdeen to the quaint suburbia of Sunset Valley in order to pursue his dream of becoming a professional author. Unbeknownst to Stuart, his every thought and action, nay his very existence was controlled by an exterior force, namely, my mouse hand.
Sunset Valley had gained a reputation over recent months for its unusual number of hugely successful residents. Only a few years before the town's population were a bunch of soulless drones, almost entirely confined to their own houses, jabbering to their barely conscious families in an indecipherable, incredibly irritating language. In those primordial days, getting to the toilet without wetting one's self was considered the height of Sim accomplishment.
Chairs made of tiles, showers made of carpet; anything was possible in Sunset Valley.
While the infuriating dialect remained unchanged by the time of MacGuffin's arrival, the inhabitants certainly had. The populace was a conglomerate of astronauts and authors, politicians and painters, each with their own specific personality, holding wants and desires alongside bodily needs. MacGuffin's own primary traits were his artistic nature, a love of books and a good sense of humour, which combined to form a series of objectives to be completed during his lifetime.
To supply the newly occupationally driven community of Sunset Valley, an entirely new town centre had been constructed, containing bookstores, a theatre, a collage, a library, and other vital civic and commercial outlets. These could be travelled to effortlessly by the locals without having to brave the monotonous murk of loading screens.
Once settled into a small house on the outskirts of town, MacGuffin set about pursuing his lifetime goal, every day he spent hours sat at his computer, improving his writing skills. He found more immediate satisfaction in attending a writing course and getting a part-time job as a bookseller. As the days passed, MacGuffin's house transformed around him. Often he would awake to find a new bookcase or a chessboard awaiting him in his lounge. Occasionally entire rooms were customised in the most absurd ways. Chairs made of tiles, showers made of carpet; anything was possible in Sunset Valley.
No longer does playing the Sims feel entirely like working in a care home without getting paid.
Although the home alterations proved an adequate distraction, MacGuffin's heart was always set on his literary aspirations. All the while I watched from above, nurturing the talents of my little Sim. No longer does playing the Sims feel like working in a care home without getting paid. Now there's an actual point to the proceedings. The Sims feel far more human now, and are not the exasperatingly needy husks they once were. I even smiled when MacGuffin sold his first manuscript, though the smile wasn't there for long.
A few days later, MacGuffin awoke to find the furnishings of his bedroom completely removed, replaced with a plethora of fireplaces and highly flammable furniture. Bewildered, he stumbled sleepily to his bedroom door, only to find it had been walled up. As one of the sofas caught alight, MacGuffin realised the dire situation he was in.
While the new personality features and the inclusion of lifetime goals for Sims lend a greater sense of purpose to the gameplay, EA have changed the absolute minimum to warrant the release of a full sequel, and it wasn't long before I was doing almost exactly the same annoyingly menial tasks I had been performing in the game's previous iterations.
Despite this, at the last possible moment before MacGuffin was burned to death, I paused the game, placed a door in the wall and allowed MacGuffin to make his escape. I then quit the game completely. For me, The Sims 3 felt like a glorified expansion pack, with slightly prettier graphics and a sprinkling of new features. However, those features do make a moderate degree of difference to the game, just enough to make me care sufficiently about my character to refrain from reverting to my malevolent inclination.
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