The Sims 3: World Adventures ReviewJessica Glover
For me, a casual gamer who likes to be productive as much as possible in life, The Sims 3 is a nightmare. It is truly an addiction - the more you play, the more you want to play. You start playing after work at 6pm and after dinner (if you can get away from the computer to eat dinner, that is), the only reason you realize that you've been playing for 5 or 6 hours straight is that your back hurts from sitting in a computer chair for so long.
So while I was excited to receive a copy of The Sims 3 - World Adventures Expansion Pack for Christmas 2009, I was also somewhat saddened to think of all the books I wouldn't read and the studying I wouldn't do for the next few months. The moment I got to a working computer I had the disc popped in and installing.
The first thing I noticed upon launching the game was that the tips that are given while the game loads had increased in number. There were now tips related to tombs and other adventure-like information. The game didn't take any longer to load than previously, and soon I was back in the familiar SIms 3 neighborhood.
When I entered my lot that I had worked on for countless hours while playing the original Sims 3, I found nothing different about the gameplay - things still ran smoothly, the voices and silly music playing from the stereos and television sets were the same, and my Sims were still getting along pretty well without my help. However, a few things had changed: for example, some new items showed up in the Buy mode, all of which were related in some way to Egyptian, French, or Chinese culture. I happily threw some Samurai swords on my infant's bedroom wall and put some giant Sphinx fountains out in front of the house.
I then decided to try out the biggest feature of the expansion pack, which was to allow my Sims to travel to other countries. The way you can travel in the Sims 3 is by simply using your cell phone and selecting "Travel" ... then you can select any number of Sims in your lot that are not babies or toddlers to travel with you for a chosen number of days. At first you can only travel a small number of days, but as you complete adventures (WoW players: think quests and leveling up) you can get "visa points" that allow you to travel longer periods of time. Of course, the more Sims you have travelling and the more time they spend abroad, the more expensive the trip will be. Any babies or toddlers left behind are automatically taken care of.
When choosing a country to travel to, I laughed at the country names. The Egyptian country is called Al Simhara, the French country is called Champs Les Sims and the Chinese country is called Shang Simla. After a moment of giggling I chose Shang Simla. After a few hours there I realized the one truly cool thing about this game - new hobbies/skills. In Shang Simla, you can pick up a martial arts skill and work on that just like you could work on writing or gardening in Sims 3. In Champs Les Sims, you can take fruit and squish it in a machine to make "nectar" (the Sims version of wine that gives you various positive moodlets) as part of the new nectarology skill and in Al Simhara you can pick up a nice camera and learn photography. There were also plenty of adventures that allow gamers to explore tombs and bring home multiple treasures. The tombs are challenging, and many of them I must admit sent me scrambling for walkthroughs, and they are many. There is plenty to do in World Adventures that allows those who have seen and done it all in The Sims 3 to have yet another excuse to stay out of the sun.
Unfortunately, that is where the benefits of this expansion pack end. After years of being a Sims fan, and having played Sims 1, 2 and 3, I have to say that this is the buggiest Sims game I have played. One need only spend about 3 minutes of their time on the Sims 3 forums to see how many people are displeased with the current in-game issues, which are numerous to say the least. Some of the issues are somewhat humorous, and some are all-out frustrating.
For example: I sent my adult Sim, Rosa Maria Rodriguez, and her teenage daughter, Ana Rodriguez, to Al Simhara for a quick tomb-exploring trip. A few days later, long after I had brought them back to their home lot, I noticed that Ana was no longer Ana Rodriguez, but Ana Kamel. Hmmm. I decided to look around on the Sims 3 forums to see if someone else had experienced this name-change problem. Apparently it is quite common - people have gone abroad to any of the three countries and come home married without their consent. Also, I found that some people also had the problem of having children in other countries. Curious to see if this issue might also apply to me, I checked Ana's relationship log to find that she now had a daughter in Al Simhara named Cleopatra. Unfortunately, I could not look at her family tree to see who the father was, as the family tree function no longer worked. Also, neither Ana nor Rosa Maria could bring Cleopatra home for anything longer than a visit, so Ana is stuck with a child (a child, not a baby or infant, mind you!) growing up in Egypt without her. When I tried travelling to Egypt and following Cleopatra home, to see if perhaps I could find the father and try to set things right, it turned out that she had no home. Apparently Ana got married, had a child, and abandoned that child to roam the streets of an Egyptian city alone. And they market this as a game for teenagers!?
This is the more humorous of the issues. Others are more grave, such as people losing relationships with other Sims that they have worked on for hours, and things just randomly disappearing. Also, some tombs won't allow some users to click on the objects needed to advance, leaving Sims having to go home empty-handed. Some people have discovered a bug where food that they place in the refrigerator goes bad almost immediately. Some users come home from vacation to find all the lots in town empty and tinted blue. And some, including me, find that their game crashes completely within 5 minutes of loading (with a quad core processor and 8 gigs of RAM, I don't think my system is at fault!). Finally, as one forum writer pointed out, on the cover of the game there is a picture of two Sims embracing in front of the Eiffel tower, which isn't even included in the game!
Perhaps the programmers at EA should have spent a few more weeks working on the game rather than hurrying it through for the Christmas shopping season. The game definitely had great promise, but the problems are too distracting to make the game as enjoyable as it should be.
Disclosure: We are provided copies of games from the game companies for some games that we review.