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The Universal Reset
Tuesday, 16 August 2011
The Sims 3 for Wii: Official review post

Yes, yes, The Sims 3 has been available for DS, 3DS, Wii, et. al. for the better part of a year at this point, but I just played the Wii version today. Gamespot this ain't, but whilst the other more expensively-produced gaming websites can easily throw you off track by describing the reviewers' own gameplay experiences, I won't. Not much, anyway.

So, The Sims 3 for Wii. I'm sure it's available on the other two consoles, as well, but Wii is the only one I've played (quelle surprise, n'est-ce pas?). First, a generalisation to answer the question you are no doubt asking yourself if considering obtaining it for your very own: "Is The Sims 3 for Wii worth the $40 I'm going to pay for it?"
The answer... if you've never played the PC version, Yes, It Is. If you have played the PC version, No, It Isn't.

A split, eh? Yes, and here's why.
If you've been following The Sims since at least 2006, you've been introduced to Sims gameplay at its finest. Relatively simple user-customisation of objects and Sims, user interfaces that are models of efficiency, and -- most importantly -- building houses and businesses from the ground up. Here is where The Sims 3 Wii is likely to disappoint.
First, the main tenet of Sims play, "build everything", has been violated. When you move a Sim onto the only empty lot in town, the very first thing you must do is to buy a pre-fabricated house "shell", as it were, and build only the individual rooms therein. However, once you have selected a shell, the interior of the house is otherwise totally customisable -- you will be able to build straight and diagonal walls, doors (but not windows), wall-coverings, floor tiles, and furnishing objects (sans a smoke detector, burglar alarm, telephone, rubbish bin, and a few other things from The Sims 3 for PC). You shan't be placing any doors, lights, or paintings on diagonal walls, however, which is something of a drag. Though, this is very reminiscent of The Sims Classic, where you could build diagonal walls, but they served only decorative purposes.

Also, if you are a long-time PC Sims player, the next place where you are likely to be disappointed is in Create-A-Sim Mode. Whilst it has a bit more customising functionality than The Sims Classic, it falls woefully short of the standard of face-morphing set by The Sims 2. You create your Sim's face by selecting presets for each section -- eyes, nose, mouth, and jaw. If you set out to make an exact replica of yourself or someone you know, as is the trend in The Sims, you will find it to be quite impossible (not that you can do that on any of the PC games, either, but virtual replication of people is curtailed even further in this game).

Here is something else that requires a mention. If your Sims experience began with The Sims 3 PC, you will be severely disappointed by The Sims 3 Wii's noticeable lack of Create-A-Style Mode. This game takes after The Sims 2 for PC in that your customisation options are limited to preset styles provided for most objects, which makes itself apparent after you select something in the catalogue. This applies to clothing as well as furnishings.
Keep in mind, however, that this is a port of a 2009 PC game to a console with 2005 microprocessor technology -- it would be illogical to expect it to do everything its PC counterpart can.

Also, the user interface (the onscreen buttons you click to do stuff) is where the learning-curve gets rather tight -- it'll take you a couple of goes to get the controls down. If it were me, I'd have adapted the controls and interfaces from the console Sims 2 (which itself was based on the controls from the console Sims Classic). I would also have seen to it that there was some kind of walls-cutaway control (which there isn't... you rather have to guess where you put stuff in this game sometimes).

Also, there is a time-limit of 50 game days which someone at EA thought would be a good idea to put in, because obviously The Sims isn't fun without a mandatory challenge. Now, I personally have not gotten to 50 days at this point, nor am I likely to, so I really don't know what happens once that comes to pass. In fact, most traditional Sims players haven't played a single Sim or family for that distant span of time. Me, I tend to bore of a Sim after five or six days. Of course, there are a few, shall we say, cultists who play generations of the same Sim family indefinitely, thanks to the so-called "Dynasty Challenge" or whatever the bloke called it back in 2004.
Anyway, your challenge, should you choose to play that long, is to gain lifetime happiness in that 50-day span of time. If you do, you win! If not, game over, I guess. Whatever. Rather irrelevant to most players.

Now, if you happen to be a Sims player, you're doubtlessly saying to yourself, "Wowser, talk about a waste of money!" And, you're probably right. If you're a long-time Sims player, it is very likely that you won't like this game. Of course, I'm a long-time Sims player and I rather like the game, now that I've had a second go at the controls and have learnt to sacrifice building for speed of entering Live Mode and beginning the gameplay proper. But, then, I'm also the editor of a gaming blog. Though, if I weren't, I probably would have stormed back into Gamestop and demanded a refund.
But, if you've either A) never played The Sims before or B) have only played The Sims on the game consoles, you may want to spend the forty quid on The Sims 3 Wii. You may also like this game if you're a Sims player and an RPG player, because this game is very much an RPG than a life-simulator. The Sims label is actually a misnomer -- if you think of it as that, it won't work out for you and it'll sit gathering dust on a shelf someplace. However, the role-playing qualities of the game are undeniable.

For instance, the contiguous neighbourhood in the PC version has translated into a totally explorable town on Wii. Like the console Sims 2, The Sims 3 Wii is direct-control -- that is, you control your Sim's actions directly, as you would with any typical videogame character, such as Mario or Link. The technical term for the game's camera perspective is "adjustable over-the-shoulder 3rd-person viewpoint" -- adjustable insofar as you can push the camera in very tight to look at the sky or pull it out very wide to see the area several metres around your Sim. The nearest precedent I can come up with is 007 Quantum of Solace for Windows, though you couldn't pull the camera out as far as you can in this game.

Another interesting thing is your ability to change your Sim's outfit from anywhere in the neighbourhood. Say, for instance, you go to the beach wearing your everyday clothes. With a click of your Sim's face at the bottom-left of the screen, you can direct him to change into swimwear. Furthermore, to swim at the beach, all you must do is walk your Sim into the water to swim automatically.

So, as a long-time Sims player, I rate The Sims 3 Wii a 2/5. Like its PC counterpart, any resemblance between this game and The Sims is purely coincidental. You can build stuff and control a Sim's life, but that's all that's good about it.

However, as an RPG player, I rate The Sims 3 Wii a 4/5. It's not anime-based and it's a bit more micromanage-y than your typical RPG, but exploring the town and socialising with its residents is quite entertaining.

Posted by theniftyperson at 12:42 AM CDT

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