Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Newer Does NOT Equal Better, Part 1

Over the weekend I did something I never would have expected, uninstalling The Sims 3 and re-installing The Sims 2. I tried really hard to like TS3, but it just didn't work out.

I don't hate the game, it was amusing for a bit and a few aspects I even fell in love with. If I had the hard drive space for both games I could see playing it occasionally. Being able to choose patterns and colors for all objects and clothes was creatively freeing, working towards happy moodlets was inspiring, and being able to have different Sims having different adventures outside of the house at the same time took care of a few of the odd timing problems with the older versions of the game. It was also quite neat to have the whole neighborhood aging together, a bit more realistic and handy in creating life-long relationships. The problem is, at what price do you get all of those features?

My most basic issue with the game is the inability to develop your own neighborhoods or even customize much within the neighborhoods provided. I can understand that some of the new buildings, like the ones that provide jobs, would require some sort of extra structure to the game, but did they really have to make it so I can't just plop a lot anywhere I'd like to? I wanted to build a home by the shore for one family that still wasn't too far from the school or their jobs but there weren't any existing lots like that.

Another basic, yet all-important, gripe I have is that you can't play multiple families without undoing all the work you've put into one. When kids grow up I'd like to be able to move them out of their original households AND still keep track of them. The one time I sucked it up and switched households, to a now-adult that my Sims had raised and I had developed to be an ambitious workaholic scientist, it turned out that he hadn't bothered to go into work since he'd moved away! If you are going to get to set personality types the Sims should actually live up to them, at least to some extent. After all, what's the point otherwise?

Not helping the game at all is the absolute patheticness of it's Prima Guide. I have their guide to every single Sims game and expansion pack and have found them immensely helpful in the past. I believe Greg Kramer wrote all of the older ones and I was dismayed to see his name missing from the new one (yes, I have become a fan of a game guide author. A little scary fact about the person I've become). As it turns out, my fears were well-founded. Every single question that cropped up in my head went unanswered in favor of the author, Catherine Brown, doing things like talking about Sims she created and their experiences. Seriously? That didn't help me at all, and certainly not as much as having basic details like what day and time the symphony performs would have. Guides are for charts and facts and details that are very hard to find without help from the people who designed the game, not prose.

I'm not thoroughly dismayed that I not only bought the game but sprang for the collector's edition (especially since I really like the included USB flash drive), but have absolutely no problems waiting for the day when I have built my new gaming desktop to play it. I just don't have the same kind of cravings to play it as I do with TS2. Oh, the cravings!

More on that in my next post, though.

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