Obviously The Sims is doing something right, given that it’s the most popular PC game ever made, but it always had a couple of omissions that forced me to keep it at arm’s length - no central character and no clear objective.
That’s probably a significant part of its appeal for many, who enjoy this kind of rich sandbox experience, but I like to have a purpose in my gaming.
So I wasn’t overly excited when the third instalment came along. After all, how can the third giant sandbox be any different from the first two? To my amazement (and joy), it turns out to be very different. Primarily because EA has made an effort with The Sims 3 to cater for gamers like me.
The mental customisation of your Sim now takes precedence over buying their furniture and taking them to the toilet before they have a nervous breakdown, and depending on what sort of personality you craft for them determines a set of objectives to carry you through the game.
These objectives range from the mundane (buy tomatoes to make a meal) to the utterly surreal (break into your neighbour’s house and use their toilet), giving The Sims 3 far more purpose than any of its predecessors.
And should you be more inclined toward mischief and evil than carving a successful virtual career, you’re given every opportunity to pursue that nefarious personality, which awards your Sim more life than it’s ever enjoyed in the previous games.
Fans of the series should still be delighted with the free-roaming antics and general lifestyle management, which is all still present and correct, even if the N-Gage version is (understandably) a tad shallower than its PC bigger brother.
But as a convenient, pocket-based alternate reality, The Sims 3 N-Gage is still impressively complete and captures the raw essence of what EA was attempting to achieve with this latest sequel.