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The Sims 3 • Page 2

Acting on Simpulse.

Traits open up behaviour options. For example, flirty sims have many more seductive behaviours accessible from their special menu. Neurotic sims have similarly neurotic options - I particularly enjoyed offending someone by telling them about my suspicion that they were descended from llamas. And then there's being evil. "Evil sims can troll on forums," says Chun, not knowing anything about the Eurogamer comments threads. "They can steal candies from babies." Then there's She-Hulk's aforementioned kleptomania. "It's one of my favourites," says Chun. "The first time it happened, I'd sent my sim to a party and I wasn't paying attention. And all of a sudden she's playing the guitar. And I'm like... I didn't buy you a guitar. She's playing someone else's guitar. And she's fairly good at it, because she had been playing on her own. And she had a wish to return the guitar... and I was, 'I'm so ignoring your wish.'" Which makes you suspect it's not just Chun's sims who are evil.

The open world simply keeps the whole town loaded in at the same time, allowing your character to run - or drive - around. While some buildings are "rabbit holes" - as in, places your character disappears into when they're doing their working day - others are recreational places which you can follow inside, like the theatre. It proves entertaining just to go to the park and see who's there - it's people-watching in a game world. "It's still your open world, and it's still your town," says Chun, "and you have complete control over who lives here. You can evict people if you want to. You can move new people in. You can shape and mould the story of the town depending on how you want to play. It'll be ultimately your town, but you'll be surprised... 'Those two sims got together and had a kid! I wasn't paying attention!'"

When EA says "story of the town", it's what the team's using to describe the basic simulation of the city. "It's the beat of daily life. It's not like on week three... DUN, DUN, DAH! It's more like there's these everyday people who are living their lives. They happen to live in your town." It changes the scale of the game. "In Sims 2 you were simulating the needs of the sims, and now we're simulating the story of the town. They all go to work. They have their own work schedules. They progress in their careers. Ultimately, the player doesn't have to make all decisions." In other words, there's less worrying about whether you're going to have something akin to a fatal bowel hemorrhage if you don't pay attention. It's more about where you do act. "There's nothing truly interesting happening like the spectacular successes or devastating failures unless the player pushed them in that direction," explains Chun. "It's not a neutral game. Things will maintain, so the weeds don't choke your town."

3

"Mommy, my hot dog tastes rubbish. Kill father."

When it's a series of games that's been as popular as these have been, it's somewhat insane to wonder whether this will be the Sims which turns around the naysayers. Yeah, Sims fans are going to adore it - the level of customisation on everything in the game in terms of colouring is openly hilarious, and you can turn on and off aspects of the world (aging, or the town's "story") which don't appeal. But as it's trying to minimise the basic human functionality bits and push towards other parts of the human experience, complaints about having to locate the nearest lavatory all the time may vanish - and make those who are turned off by that stuff play.

Does Chun think people will get it? "I hope so," she says, "We want to introduce people to The Sims. Because the players and community are so important to making it come alive, it can't just be insular - 'We're sims players - we want more of the same.' We want to push the game in a different direction, and in a way that makes sense for the game. I think we've moved beyond needs, and when I play I look at relationships, skills and their inventories; I rarely look at needs. I focus on their moods. And it's how I live my life. I'm not sitting here and thinking about how I lack Vitamin C or that I have low blood sugar. It's not beep, beep, beep, low on blood sugar. It's, 'I'm Grouchy... I would like some food.' You live your life, generally, saying, 'I want to be in a good mood.' Unless you're a loner, at which point... you really don't. But you can be a loner if you want to."

With The Sims 3's release, no matter what traits I choose in-game, I suspect in the real world I'm going to find myself a loner, at least for a while.

The Sims 3 is due out for PC on 5th June.

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