The Sims 3 is a sandbox simulation game where you create a Sim family with one or more Sim people. In the Sims 3, you can take control of the lives of your Sims or leave them to their own devices.
Creating a Sim
You can create up to 10 Sims in a single family. Sims can be toddlers, children, teenagers, young adults, adults or elderly. However, toddlers, children, and teenagers cannot live alone in a Sim family so you will need to have at least one Young adult or older Sim if you wish to play with toddlers and teens.
Appearance and personality
The appearances of your Sims are highly customizable. Everything from their facial features to their clothes and make-up can be tweaked. It's not unusual for players to spend a few days customizing their Sim so it looks like a virtual clone of themselves. Creating Sims that resemble celebrities or fictional characters is also pretty popular and you can find plenty of Angelina Jolie or Harry Potter's Sim clones for download online.
If you would prefer not to create your own Sim or download one off the internet, there are also plenty of pre-made that come with the game.
The personality of your Sim can also be customized. You can pick a horoscope for your Sim and up to five traits. These traits will determine how your Sim behave. For example, Sims with the 'Genius' traits are able to learn things quickly and those with the 'Absent-minded' trait will randomly forget what they were doing in the middle of performing an action.
Additionally, you will need to choose a lifetime goal for your Sim. This will determine what their wants during gameplay and fulfilling these wants rewards you with points that you can exchange for various perks and items that make life easier for your Sim. When you finally achieve your lifetime goal, your Sim will receive a huge amount of points and a permanent boost to their mood.
Buying or building a home
After creating your own Sim family or using the pre-made ones, you’ll need to give them a home. The game comes with plenty of houses you can buy and some of them come with pre-made families too. If you wish, you could also buy an empty plot of land and build your own house.
Houses are also highly customizable in the Sims 3. You can modify the terrain, add water bodies, and plant trees and rocks in your plot of land. You can also build a house with multiple levels, a basement and customize its floors, walls, doors, windows and roof.
After building or buying a house, you also have the option of decorating it. There are hundreds of items you can buy for your Sim's home and the only limit is your Sim's budget. All Sim families start with a certain amount of simoleans and a brand new family would probably only be able to afford the cheapest furniture.
Here's a short video on building a house in the Sims 3:
Playing with your Sims
Sims come with various need bars for hunger, energy, bladder, hygiene, social, and fun that decay over time. Performing actions such as eating, sleeping, going to the washroom, taking a shower, interacting with other Sims, and so on replenishes the bars. Allowing both the energy and hunger bar to decay completely will kill your Sim. Other than that, letting the bars decay will only make your Sim unhappy. Whether to let your Sims live blissful, fulfilled lives or miserable existences is entirely up to you.
Jobs and careers in the Sims 3
Your Sims can take on different jobs and careers to earn simoleans. Unless you are using a cheat code, you'll probably need to take up a job for your Sim at first so you can earn some simoleans to buy him things.
Your Sims can take up careers in Science, Business, Culinary, Medicine, and so on. Different careers have different progression paths and earn varying amounts of simoleans. Going to work on time, gaining skills required for the job, and performing various tasks will allow your Sim to progress in his career and get him promotions. On the flip side, missing work and going to work in a bad mood will cause your Sim to perform badly at work and may even get him demoted. Your Sims can also work at part-time jobs that require little time comittment but don't really have a progression.
Hobbies and skills
There are many hobbies and skills that your Sims can pick up in the Sims 3. Some examples are gardening, chess, playing the guitar, and fishing. Some hobbies such as fishing and gardening allow your Sims to earn simoleans by selling the fish and crops they obtain. Others such as playing the guitar allow your Sims to perform for tips.
Relationships and marriage
As in previous versions of the Sims, Sims in the Sims 3 can get meet other Sims, befriend them, go on dates, and eventually get married. They can also have kids who will inherit their appearances, personality and traits for both parents.
Old age and death in the Sims 3
Sims will eventually get old and die although you can extend their lifespans in many ways. One of it is to go to the game settings and just make the lifespan of all Sims in the game really long. However, if you just want to extend the lifespan of a single Sim, you could find a life fruit and let your Sim eat it. If you manage to plant a life plant
Besides dying from old age, there are also various interesting ways Sims can die in the Sims 3. For example, Sims can die from fire, drowning, hunger, electrocution and so on. Depending on how they die, a Sim will turn into a ghost of different colors.
There are many other features in the Sims 3 that I have not mentioned in my preview but these are the ones that I find the most important. What I love best about the Sims 3 is that there is always something new and surprising to discover even after playing the game for years. There is still so much to do in the Sims 3 that you could write a book about it. This is a game that will not only keep you entertained for hours, but will last you years and years. I've owned the game since it was released in 2009 and nearly 4 years later, I'm still having lots of fun with it (albeit I've also bought many expansion packs). If you haven't gotten the game yet, now is a good time because you've been missing out on so much fun.
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(price as of Nov 20, 2016)