Review: The Sims 3 for iPhone

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I own a first-generation iPod Touch and a T-Mobile G1. While I love my G1 as a phone, I’m constantly amazed at the quality of applications and software that are available for the iPhone — games especially. While I seem to have sort of gotten my bases covered in the games department on the G1, I can’t help but wonder what it’d be like to walk around with games like Tiger Woods PGA Tour, Sim City, and The Sims 3 on my phone all day long.

Magic, I tell you. Magic!

That might be stretching it a little bit, but the fact remains: The Sims 3 represents yet another excellent and very-impressive iPhone game from EA. At $9.99, it’s a no-brainer for any fan of the Sims franchise.


The game is a slightly scaled-back version of the big-boy Sims games. In this adventure, you live in a small town surrounded by a handful of neighbors, a few employment opportunities, and a few shopping areas. If a full-blown PC version of The Sims equates to Sim City 3000 or Sim City 4, the iPhone version of The Sims 3 would dovetail with SimTown. Perhaps Sim Small Town, even.

You create your own character using a few different hairstyles, skin tones, and clothing and shoe options — nothing too advanced, there are perhaps 4-5 options for each category — and then decide on a basic personality type: Jack of All Trades, Nice Guy, Jerk, Sleaze, Power Seeker, and Maniac. After that, you assign yourself five main personality traits. I made myself a Jack of All Trades and chose good sense of humor, conversationalist, modest, friendly, and genius as my traits.


Then, in true Sims form, you set about making a little life for yourself. You’ll have to get a job to make money, you need to buy food items from the market, and you’ll have to keep an eye on your basic personal needs: hunger, energy, fun, social, hygiene, bladder, and the like. You can make extra money by completing tasks for various other Sims. Some are pretty weird; like this guy Bernie wants to pay me $30 (sorry, 30 simoleans — Sim currency) to annoy another Sim named Jack.


And one lady Sim offered me $90 to shove another lady Sim! Unfortunately (or fortunately) due to my personality type, my character doesn’t have it in him to annoy or shove people.

Since the iPhone’s got an accelerometer, we can’t escape mini-games based on shaking and tilting can we? No sir. If you want to cook yourself a meal, you’ll have to make sure to pick up and shake the pots on the stove or your food will burn. You can also go fishing, which consists of tilting the iPhone back and forth to get your line near a moving fish and then jerking the device upward to reel it in. Stuff like that. It’s sort of interesting the first time but it gets a little old after a while. Not a deal-breaker, though.


In order to stave off the monotony of everyday life, your Sim will develop long-term goals. Mine wants to hit the top of his career ladder eventually. He also wants a better TV, $1000 in the bank, and he wants to catch 15 fish — all things I can relate to in real life, except for the fish part. New goals will appear throughout the game and you can choose to add them to your long-term list. Otherwise, they’ll be goals for a while and then eventually fade away.


Again, you’ll get some weirdness here too. My Sim has had goals like “Annoy another Sim” or, worse yet, “Creep-out another Sim.” Hopefully my Sim doesn’t turn into a serial killer.


So there’s definitely enough going on to keep you engaged. Certain items unlock at various points in the game — new furniture, the ability to add on to your house, etc. — and there are just enough people to talk to and places to see to make it feel like a somewhat “big” game without making it unwieldy to play on the iPhone’s screen. The graphics, sound, and music are all done really well; just what you’d expect if you’ve purchased any of EA’s other recent games.

At $9.99, The Sims 3 already looks and feels more advanced than the first version of the game that came out for the PC back in 2000. If you’ve enjoyed playing subsequent Sims titles and you’re looking for a great way to pass some time, you can’t go wrong with this one.

The Sims 3 [iTunes App Store]

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