The Sims 3: A Review by an SL Resident – Part 1

sims3

In a lot of ways, for me, The Sims series was training ground for Second Life. First, it gave me my oh-so-delicious first taste of internet fame. Second, it gave me my first experiences with online community drama (content theft, giant pointless flame wars, etc.) Third, it taught me how to sift through massive amounts of total shit content to find the few sparkling gems. And fourth, it got me used to the idea of playing with virtual dolls —  I mean, virtual action figures.

Due to the sheer amount of time spent being awesome, I haven’t actually had too many opportunities to sit and really play the game. I will, post a follow-up review of the actual gameplay — which I hear is very similar to The Sims 2 until late in the game.

But I would like to talk about the “Create-a-Sim” portion of the game and how it compares to creating an avatar in Second Life. And at first, I was all like, totally different. I mean, for example, one of the first decisions you make in terms of physical appearance is your Sim’s skin tone. You pick a general colour palette (some realistic, some not) and use a slider to choose from a range of very light to very dark. Whereas in SL, I thought, you’re at the mercy of the base skin tones your skin designer of choice offers.

I thought. The truth is, I had completely forgotten that you are able to tint Linden Labs base skin thousands of different colours. Because why would you want to? The only colour you could tint that skin to make at all aesthetically pleasing is pure black, hiding all the details. In almost every way the Create-a-Sim is LL’s default avatar creator minus all the suck.

The picture above is the Sim I’m currently playing. He’s based on my hibernating World of Warcraft Gnome Warlock character, Ozzle Fizzlecrank (you don’t get a last name in WoW, but I was on an RP server and that’s how we roll) and I’d like to walk you through the process of his simification.

First of all, all sims are the same height within their age category (child, teen, young adult and so on), so disappointingly, I was unable to fully realize his gnomishness — well, I could have made him a child, but I doubt I would have been able to keep the pornstar ‘stache. There are also only two body adjusting sliders. One that adds or subtracts body fat and one that adds or subtracts muscle tone. This is a huge improvement over previous Sim titles but a let down to those of us who’re used to tweaking our shape to the smallest detail in Second Life. I wanted Ozzle to be skinny with a big ol’ beer gut, but I had to settle with slightly pudgey overall. Also, if you are really into breasts, don’t expect TS3 to fulfil any fantasies whatsoever. Just sayin’.

Most appearance options (outside the body) seem basic on the surface, but almost everything can be finely tweaked the further you go into the submenus. For example, I wanted purple eyes and was presented with your standard range of colours (green, blue, brown, etc). Just hit the paintbrush button and you’re presented with many more colour options or you can choose the exact colour from the full RGB spectrum. Hair works similarly, except you are able to pick the root, highlight, tip and base colours separately.

The sliders for your sim’s facial features also get more detailed the further down the submenus you go. Choose an overall face type, change the nose, then adjust the nostril size, for example. It’s hard to explain why, but it’s a much easier then SL’s slider system. I was able to give Ozzle the perfect gnome nose, ears and evil eyebrows fairly easily and quickly.

The clothing options are limited. Mostly because EA wants to sell you the clothing through their online store for $0.75 to $1.00. This may be a tough pill to swallow for non-SLers, but we’re used to our virtual dolls — action figures — slowly picking away at our bank accounts. What’s cool about the clothes, though, is that you can apply different patterns and change the colours within those patterns, applying them to the different layers. Increasing the mileage of the few items of clothing that do ship with the game ten fold. The green/ purple colour scheme, for example, is derived from an armor set for warlocks in WoW.

After you’ve gotten all the physical qualities out of the way, next you build the personality (and voice pitch). The traits I picked were “evil”, “genius”, “mean spirited”, “insane” and “kleptomaniac”. It’s an interesting combo, which I’ll talk more about in part 2.

The irony of it all, after you’ve made a sim, which probably looks pretty good, it lacks a certain sparkle. As much as this character creation process is far, far superior to that of Linden Lab’s, the creativity in the Second Life community to fix or work around these faults actually creates a more vibrant and, I dare say, life like virtual doll — action figure.

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3 Responses to “The Sims 3: A Review by an SL Resident – Part 1”

  1. I’ve been neglecting Second Life in favour of Sims 3 for the last week or so, and I quite agree with you. To a point, at least. I always maintained, before the Sims 3 came out, that a combination of the character creation tools of The Sims and Second Life would be an ideal to me. The fact that you can edit bodyshape and height in Second Life, and the deeper control over the face, which is offered in Sims.
    The problem is, in Sims 3, yes, there’s a massive amount of control over facial aspects, but I’ve yet to be able to make anyone /beautiful/ in it. I can get used to their faces, and using a mod that extends the slider range has helped, but I just can’t help looking at them and wishing I could…y’know…tweak the positioning of the hair, or fix that saggy neck, or, crudely, ramp up the boobage.
    Sims 3’s Create A Sim is a powerful tool, no doubt about it, but at the end of the day, when I log into Second Life and see my avatar that I’ve spent the last two and a half years tweaking and investing in, and all these things, I know what I feel more proud of.

  2. I agree!

    I’ve had some time playing The Sims 3, and I have played WoW myself, don’t ask me what level I am…I like to take my time in those quests…lol, but I digress.

    Deep in the game, I sort of liked The Sims 2 more because in TS3, you can’t interact much in restaurants. When outside your home, you can’t use your mobile phone to call the cab, BUT there’s a button on your sim where you can just click if you want your sim to go home, and it will either walk, run, take a taxi, or if it’s in your sim’s inventory, drive the car or bike.

    But, the game has improved on its personality traits…and that’s what I like best about TS3.

    I haven’t really gotten some custom content yet, but I hope to…i have this impression that in TS2 it was easier to get some content.

  3. Nice site man, picked up some nuggets here…can’t wait for Cataclysm, I read a rumor that it’s going to be coming out November 2010, though with Blizzard you never know :/

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