|System: PC||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: The Sims Studio||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: EA Games||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Nov. 16, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Derek Hidey
It didn't take long for EA to release the first expansion pack for The Sims 3. Only a few months after the third installment's release, gamers are treated to World Adventures, which is designed to not only provide new content, as any self-respecting expansion pack should, but also new gameplay elements that focus on more than going to work, getting money, and buying new stuff.
World Adventures is an expansion pack that does something rather experimental with the franchise by giving it some light puzzle-solving and questing mechanics. The expansion pack delivers more than some internationally-themed furniture to buy or new characters to meet.
Most of the game's menus remain exactly the same, with only added features. For example, the main addition in the expansion pack is the added "Travel" option on your PDA. One click and your character calls up the travel agent to book your destination and length of stay. Once you select where you want to go and for how long, a cab arrives to pick you up, it drives for a short while, and then your staring at a loading screen.
Loading can sometimes be an issue, but that is simply a result of each vacation destination being nearly the size of your main town. The amount of time it takes to load each location (France, Egypt, and China), is slightly shorter than the time it takes to load your main game from the main menu.
Accessing the expansion pack's content isn't absolutely clear upon startup. There are tips that will pop-up and explain some of the new features, but there are a few things that you have to figure out on your own. For example, after visiting China for the first time and acquiring the Martial Arts skill by training using a training dummy and chopping block, I wanted to purchase those items and place them in my home so I could train while not on vacation.
Unfortunately, when I got back and brought up the Buy Mode menus, I noticed that those items weren't available. A 20-second search under the Help menu revealed that I would need to purchase any foreign furniture or items from merchants in that location. As soon as I revisited China, I went straight to the merchant, bought a training dummy, and put it in my house upon returning.
While some may see such steps as a game design flaw, wondering why you couldn't have access to the new content right from the start, I think it helps develop the charm of the new content. If World Adventures was simply a content update with additional towns, then the charm would be non-existent, and EA probably would have benefited from simply adding the content to its online store. Instead, they not only want you to visit the new locations, but invest time and money into them, which is a good thing. The vacation locations are meant to be explored, not just tacked on for a few minutes of entertainment before getting bored.
World Adventures focuses on providing adventures for the player to experience. From navigating tombs to competing in martial arts tournaments, there are a variety of quests. However, while some can be interesting, such as navigating a tomb by solving all its puzzles and uncovering a certain artifact, others can be mundane, and will remind well-rounded gamers of the dreaded "FedEx" quests seen in MMORPGs. For example, upon accepting a new opportunity from the mission board at my base camp, where you go to receive a bulk of your adventures, I was told to go see a local townsperson. From there, I was told to collect three types of stones, which was extremely easy since the zoomed-out view of the map points to where you can get them. Once I collected them and reported to the person a second time, she asked that I find her two relics. This was much less clear as the map provided no locations. It took a little while to realize that relics could be purchased from a merchant. While these "FedEx" adventures do have a place in World Adventures, they aren't so frequent to be annoying, and the ability to speed up time makes them even more painless.