Oh, nobody cares, you say? Anyone who cares enough about Sims 3 to be reading an article about it on this illustrious site has probably already been playing the PC version for over a year now? How cynical you are today, dear reader!
Having never played a Sims game in my life, I simply don't share your healthy skepticism for the first current-gen console release for the Sims franchise. Did you know EA has added karma powers to the console version? What are karma powers, you ask? I'm glad you asked that. Well, they're powers you can use to do cool things with your simulated people – like call a meteor strike to burn your neighbor's house down while you turn up your charisma to get lucky with his wife.
There are 13 karma powers in all, eight "good" ones and five "bad" ones. The first one we saw, called Get Lucky, grants your Sim boosted luck for a limited amount of time, which we used to quickly romance another Sim. We're told that getting to the "first kiss" stage of a Sims relationship can be a laborious affair, but with karma powers we were able to progress our single mom Sim from introductions to first kiss with the man of her dreams in a matter of seconds.
While the other karma powers vary greatly, they all similarly help speed up the gameplay in various ways, so whenever you're feeling like a task is getting too tedious, there's probably a karma power you can call in to hasten the process. These powers do come at a price though, and we're told that if you use karma powers too frequently – either good ones or bad ones – you'll be penalized during the "Hour of Reckoning," which sounds rather ominous.
To use your karma powers though, of course you need karma points. You earn karma points through completing missions via a challenge system that's new to the console version. While you play the game, notices will pop up in the upper right-hand corner of the screen when new challenges are available. Usually each challenge involves fulfilling some kind of wish for your Sim, like learning how to garden or doing a social activity like throwing a party. Challenges are meant to help you explore the game in a structured way whenever you're feeling overwhelmed with the open sandbox of possibilities. They're also all totally optional, and you can pick and choose as you see fit.
Lastly, for the first time ever on consoles, Sims players will have access to a wealth of user-created content through the Exchange system. All the online content is fully integrated into the regular in-game menus, so anytime you're in a customization menu you'll see a little icon next to any option where user-generated content is available. So say you're creating a new Sim, and you're picking out a stylish hat for him – not only can you customize all the gritty details yourself, you can also browse pre-made creations uploaded by other users and take whatever you like. Of course you can also upload your own items for other users to share and enjoy.
While we're still somewhat skeptical about the appeal of The Sims 3 on consoles, the new powers and challenges do look promising. Then again, the console version will only include the base game, so console players won't have access to any of the cool expansion packs (no word on if they'll be released as DLC later). Look for our review when the game ships October 26.
Jul 21, 2010