The Sims 3 Pets Review

The Sims 3: Pets Review

Life, love and pets - what more could you want?

Published on: Friday 4th November, 2011
The Sims 3: Pets Boxart

The Sims 3: Pets

Available on: Xbox 360, PS3
Publisher: EA
Developer: EA
PEGI Rating: 12+
Players Offline: 1

Supported Controllers

This game requires Kinect

Supported

This game supports the Xbox 360 controller

Required

They said I could be anything I wanted - so I became a crazy cat lady. And a celebrated five-star chef.

Me in about forty years time....

 

The Sims is a game full of possibilities. You create a bunch of people, dictating everything from their looks to their personality, then move them into an empty house, where you can direct everything that happens to them in their little lives. You can make them fall in love, rise to the top of their careers, start a family, uncover buried treasure - or you can shut them in the bathroom and remove the door, watching them slowly starve to death. The Sims 3 also brought with it new ways to mess with your Sims in the form of Karma Powers - special abilities you can use to give your Sims a boost of luck, refresh all of their needs or build up their bank funds. There's also powers that cover the other, more mischievous side of The Sims spectrum, letting you cause earthquakes, drop fireballs or haunt Sims - something which would be particularly effective on cowardly Sims. The Sims 3 Pets adds pets into the mix to make things more interesting, bringing with them a whole load of new features, items and of course, Karma Powers.
 

The Sims 3 Pets Screenshot

The Transmogrify power lets you turn a pet into a Sim.


First stop was the Create-A-Sim section, where I attempted to create a Sim that looked vaguely like me, running into the same problem I found on the previous game - there is no decent, pre-made strawberry blonde hair colour, but thanks to the Sims 3's customisation options, I can create it for myself, rather than being stuck in the old-school Sims dilemma of whether I should go really red or be bright blonde; there was no inbetween. Defining my Sim-ish personality was a doddle too, by choosing five 'traits' from the list - absent-minded, cat person, clumsy, easily-impressed and coward. Which seems about right for me, seeing as I'm likely to fall down the stairs, running from a bump in the night, before forgetting what I was running from, and go back to looking at pictures of cats on the internet. Obviously, cat-person is a new trait they've added for The Sims 3 Pets, but there's also the option to be a dog-person, allergic to fur and dislike pets - although there is no catch-all pet-person, which seems like a bit of an oversight, as I like doggies too...
 

Next, I decided to start putting together my army of cats - seeing as they're an integral part of the whole crazy cat lady thing. Restraining myself a bit, partially due to the stringent six-person-per-household limit, and partially because I didn't want to rule out recruiting any extra furry friends should such a need arise, I decided to stop at just three kitties. Being in a particularly porky mood, I decided to name my first after the mother of all pork products - Bacon - creating a clueless, hyperactive male tortoiseshell, as the brown and orange splodges of the coat seemed to somehow make sense with the name at the time. Next came my miniature, fluffier leopard cat, a skittish and shy male Maine Coon called Brutus, purely for the irony. My third and final cat came in the form of Miss Snuggles, a Ragdoll female who's both friendly and lazy - Ragdoll cats famously relax and go limp when picked up, and are rather affectionate and easy-going. They also have some serious fluff going on:
 

Awwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww


Me and my furry family then moved into an unfurnished three-bedroom bungalow in the town of Sugar Maple Coast, where I blew a fair portion of my left over money on a fancy cooker, fridge and bed (actually important, seeing as better appliances = better meals, so your Sim is full for longer, and a better bed means you don't need to sleep for so long). The rest went on cat food, cat bowls and - seeing as I was running seriously low at that point - three cat towers, as these work as beds and scratching posts in one handy tall thing. Having run out of money, my Sim needed a job - luckily, an advert for a 'Kitchen Scullion' was in the paper, the first rung on the Culinary career ladder. Seeing as work didn't start till the following day, I had the rest of the day free to play with my cats and brush up on my cooking skill - I also learnt that the 'Have Fun' interaction with the cats had my Sim produce a laser pen, although the virtual cats didn't go anywhere near as crazy for it as my real life cat does. Plenty of cuddles, laser pen fun and a couple of cooking skill points later, I sent my Sim to bed - but no sooner had they drifted off to sleep, and there was a burglar tip-toeing into my house! Due to lack of funds, I hadn't bothered installing a burglar alarm, which I usually make a point of doing - and I was paying for it now, as I had to persuade my Sim to get up out of bed and phone the police (whereas the alarm would have done that for me automatically). By the time my Sim had got round to phoning the police, the burglar was halfway down the street with my toilet in his swag bag - needless to say the police couldn't catch him, so I didn't get compensation so my Sim didn't get to empty their bladder till they got to work the following day. Thinking about it now, I should have made use of some of the more vicious Karma Powers - maybe I could have hit him on the head with a meteor or something, hopefully concussing him or at least setting fire to him, so he'd have at least hung around long enough for the Police to arrive. Naturally, my first pay packet went on a new toilet, rather than a TV or sofa or something fun...

Challenges are little goals that you can complete, which involve doing all manner of things - from getting engaged to someone, to catching a perfect Blowfish to successfully bathing your cat. There's also a list of 'LOL' challenges, which give you examples of entertaining things you could do - like activating the Fire Storm karma power while a Sim is proposing, or scaring the grim reaper. Each challenge you complete will earn you an amount of Challenge Points, and when you earn enough you get to pick a reward, which can either be a new Karma Power, letting you mess with your Sims lives in a new way; a new Power Upgrade, which can make an existing Karma Power more powerful; or you could buy a Karmic Adjustment, which for example, can increase the maximum number of Karma Points you can accumulate.
 

While the challenges add some objectives to work towards in what is otherwise a rather free-form game, EA have added brand-new 'Mysteries' to the game - once your household registers as a 'Mysteriologist' at the City Hall in town, you get to pick one of the five mysteries to start with. You could search for the pirate treasure hidden in the various beach caves around town, uncover the reason behind the strange closure of the Silver Mine, find out about the mysterious Socialite Club where everyone seems to be a member but no-one will take about, set off on a quest for feline world domination, or be like those dogs in the movies, solving mysteries and rescuing townsfolk in trouble. Each mystery is quite lengthy, and involves searching for treasure, making friends, hunting ghosts and much, much more - and they'll encourage you to explore new areas, learn new skills and talk to people you may have otherwise missed.
 

The Sims 3 Pets Screenshot

Sims Cats have some sort of crazy built-in ghost detector...

 

Going back to my life with my cats - after a few in-game weeks, I'd had a few promotions, rising to the rank of 'Vegetable Slicer', and my cats had become quite friendly with each other. Almost too friendly. One day, Bacon announced he wanted to 'Mate with Brutus Hadley' - who is also a guy... which kind of surprised me, seeing as I didn't actually think it was possible to have gay pets on the Sims. Not wanting to disappoint him, I bought the new couple a fancy log cabin out in the garden for them to do the deed, as it needed to be an actual pet house rather than my cheap-o bed-come-scratching-post ones I'd bought all the cats before. With Brutus and Bacon tied up in a relationship together, I think Miss Snuggles is getting a bit lonely. With her biological clock ticking by everyday, she might have to give up on her dream of having kittens one day - although I think I might adopt a Mr. Snuggles to keep her company through the long, cold winter nights...

What did initially bemuse us here at Everybody Plays was that The Sims 3 Pets had skipped over the Wii, when we would have thought it would have gone down quite well with the sort of people who buy Nintendo's console. But it rapidly became clear why EA had left the poor console out - it may not have had the physical power to run the game properly, as the Xbox 360 seemed to struggle at times. As soon as you cranked up the in-game speed to three times, it got rather judderry, with your Sims stuttering along from place to place - although this is definitely reduced if you install the game to your Xbox 360 Hard Drive, where it takes up just under five and a half gigabytes of space. According to the manual, doing this should also reduce loading times - although we can't say we've noticed any significant reduction in the reams of loading screens. Pretty much everything you do in the game is met with a loading screen - press start on the start-up screen - loading time; switch between live mode and the buy catalogue - loading screen; pop to the town to do some shopping - loading screen; save your game - loading screen. While they're never really that long, it does start to grate after a bit and you start trying to be conservative with doing stuff that involves loading screens - like going on one mother of all shopping trips at the general store, Mario's Market, where you buy all the things you could possibly want in one foul swoop, ministering unnecessary loading screens.
 

The Sims 3 Pets Screenshot

Here we have an extremely rare, lesser-spotted crazy cat man...


While The Sims 3: Pets has a few technical hiccups - juddering, loading times and a not-all-that-easy-to-navigate interface - the game itself is still fun, and is a great starting point for anyone who didn't pick up last year's game. For those that have, it'll depend whether you think the addition of furry friends is enough to warrant another purchase of what is essentially a rather similar game. Now can we have another Makin' Magic style expansion pack please EA? I miss my army of gardening gnomes, flamingo dancers, skeleton maid and pet dragon...
StarStarStarStarEmpty star
Man's best friend
  • +
    Pets :D
  • +
    New mysteries give you a break from the daily grind
  • +
    Karma Powers can be fun
  • -
    Juddery stuttering when you go into 3x speed
  • -
    Loads of loading times
  • -
    The interface is still rather complex and hard to navigate
4/5
Parents! Looking for more info? Check out our quick parent's guide to The Sims 3: Pets for all you need to know!
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