Article first published as Playstation 3 Review: Sims 3 – Pets on Blogcritics.
Now that the Halloween and the Day of the Dead festivals in Los Angeles are gone, animal lovers with a penchant for all things spooky might find some solace in the latest Sims console offering. After 12 years of piecing out new Sims games, expansions and add-ons, probably the biggest question is why anyone should keep feeding the monolith that is Will Wright and EA games. If you’re a Sims-curious HD console owner who hasn’t jumped on the virtual doll set/RPG bandwagon yet, this is the definitive release, so far.
Skipping over most of the regular Sims stuff, the pet experience begins with creating your family. The pet customization options are nearly as robust as the human creation. With a variety of breeds and creative ways to customize your Sims’ pets, creating unique dogs and cats offers nearly limitless possibilities. Long hair, short hair, multiple coat pattern layers and even three stages of life are adjustable. Pets also have their own traits that include; intelligent, brave, and friendly to hydrophobic (afraid of water,) skittish, and clueless to gentle, fast, and agile to determine the personality of your Sims’ pets.
Even if pets are an afterthought for you, this is the newest console version of Sims 3 and you can play without creating and owning a pet. Unlike some of the previous Sims: Pets titles this isn’t a pet centric side experience. Just think of Sims 3: Pets as Sims 3 plus and it does offer new options that aren’t pet-centric. The addition of pet does, however open new gameplay to the standard Sims virtual dolls fare with new adventures that do significantly change standard playing patterns.
Getting to the meat of it, Sims 3: Pets offers you the ability to live the life of a cat or dog, complete with personality traits and skills along with your human Sim. Cycling between human and animal characters is done by pressing the Triangle button on the Playstation controller. There will be ample opportunities to live your pet’s life independent of their owner and it is here where everything is a little different. Pets can learn a variety of skills and put them to use in a variety of ways. Cats and dogs can learn to hunt and dogs can learn how to find collectibles and help your hapless human Sims score or strike out on their own and become a criminal mastermind.
In Sims 3: Pets, pets can solve mysteries around town and detect and capture ghosts to get rewards. You’ll know when your pet is hot on the trail of a ghost when crazy, piercing beams come shooting out of its eyes. The Karma Powers in the game allow you to transmogrify your pet – changing your cat or dog into another animal or human and converting its personality traits. If you’re looking for a little more mayhem than watching your kitten shred furniture on fast forward, try out the Karma Power called Feral Possession or use Solar Flare or Meteor Strike for maximum destruction.
There is a lot of fun to be had in Sims 3: Pets but, it’s not all puppy dogs and rainbows. Even more so than the original Sims 3, Pets is buggy. There will be times when you’ll have to hold that Playstation button and quit the game and less fatal issues like Sims levitating ten feet off the ground and walking through the air. The load screens will also break up the action which is already hindered by hang-ups and slow-downs. There is a lot going on in this game and some technical issues are probably to be expected but, a patch is sorely needed.
Overall, there is plenty to love about Sims 3: Pets and as flawed as it is, there is nothing else like it on a console system. Like the upcoming EA game, Mass Effect 3, Playstation 3 owners will miss out on the Xbox 360’s Kinect exclusive voice command options. Owners of both consoles will want to keep that in mind but, otherwise there is little difference between them. The technical flaws and overall buginess certainly detract from the experience but, this is the closest yet, a console has come to the PC Sims experience.
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