|System: Xbox 360, PS3, PC, 3DS|
|Dev: EA Play/The Sims Studio|
|Pub: Electronic Arts|
|Release: Q3 2011|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p|
by Josh Wirtanen
A new season is upon us, and that means it's time for yet another Sims expansion. This time around, The Sims get pets. This isn't the first time the Sims got their hands on little furry animals: Sims 2 also had a Pets expansion. Does the Sims 3: Pets improve upon the Sims Pets formula? Cheat Code Central got some answers in a closed-door Sims 3: Pets event.
The very first thing we were shown was the customization screen. We were told there were over 100 dog and cat breeds to select from in Sims 3: Pets. (Since a show of hands revealed we had many more dog lovers than cat lovers in the room, our demo focused more on the dogs.) On top of the various breeds, the tweaks we saw were incredibly in-depth. There were options to increase or decrease snout size, change fur color, and even add accessories (mostly collars.)
For an example of how detailed the customization actually was, the amount of options for eyes alone was staggering. We were allowed to change the base color and a secondary color, which sort of blended into each other. If we wanted a pet with red eyes that faded to purple around the edges, we could do it. And if that wasn't enough, our pets could have two eyes with completely different color schemes. A person could easily sink hours into the eye customization alone.
But sinking time into customization is something Xbox 360 players won't have to do. The Sims 3: Pets has Kinect voice recognition support. Commands can be issued just by speaking. Some examples that we witnessed included "select Dalmatian" and "select poodle." (Later, one dog was told to "destroy something" via voice command, and the little critter knocked over a planter and started digging in the dirt he had spilled.)
And customization doesn't end with cosmetic appearance. Just like human Sims, pets are given their own personality traits. Some we saw on display were neat, dirty, and lazy.
Once customization was over, we learned that the pets in Sims 3 actually function as Sims themselves. This means they have their own needs and aspirations, and can even get jobs to raise money. We didn't hear a lot about these jobs, but we did see one dog singing on the street for money. Unfortunately, the little guy couldn't hit the notes very well and it didn't sound very good. But it sounds like these sorts of skills can be improved with practice.
Since animal Sims now function almost exactly like human Sims, they have a much deeper sense of social interaction. It was explained that one dog we saw in the demo was having a bit of a fling with another dog in the neighborhood. These dogs were able to flirt, and we were told they could even "woohoo." (We weren't shown this action, but it sounds pretty disturbing.)
Social interaction isn't just limited to other animals. The relationship between Sims and their pets has become an important part of the game. We were shown the example of Tiger Boy and his dog Tiger Dog. (These characters are exclusive to console versions of the game.) Tiger Boy had very low social skills, and by interacting with Tiger Dog, he was able to improve these skills. However, he was still a pretty sad case who sat moping around a bar, wishing he had a girlfriend. Tiger Dog came to his rescue by interacting with one of the women in the bar, and bringing her over to Tiger Boy. The two hit it off quite well, and we can only imagine this was the beginning of a long and glorious romance.
Mysteries were one feature that was explained to us, yet we didn't actually get to see it in action. Apparently, these allow pets to team up with their owners and do all sorts of tasks like finding buried treasure and catching a bothersome neighborhood cat. As we all learned from Scooby Doo, there's no better way to solidify the bonds between mankind and dogkind than by solving mysteries together.
The last feature we were shown was the Karma powers. These have already been a part of the Sims universe for a while now, but the Sims 3: Pets adds some new powers to the mix. The one power we were shown was "meteor strike," and after a meteor crash completely ruined Tiger Boy's day, the demo ended.
The Sims 3: Pets is so much more than just The Sims 2: Pets reskinned for Sims 3. With the addition of animals that function like the humans in the game, this is a very welcome addition to the world of The Sims.
CCC Editor/Contributing Writer