The Sims 3: World Adventures

Your chance to take a shower inside The Great Pyramid.

It's worth it for the tents alone. My little one-man pyramid of canvas was bought so as not to waste precious hours returning to the hotel whilst out on a long expedition, but it was upon realising it was in my Sim's inventory on my return to homely Riverview that I realised its true worth.

Why, I can sleep anywhere! Outside the bookshop! In the park! In my ex-girlfriend's garden! In the graveyard. Pfft. I don't need a house now I've got a tent. There are toilets at work, computers in the library, and I can always pull off a guerrilla shower whilst visiting a mate's house. Truly, this is the life.

Briefly, I entertained the idea in reality. It was only the image of writing this very review in a tent, at night, in the rain, with a screaming cat at my side that stopped me from embarking on an extraordinarily reckless evening. This only served to hammer home the great appeal of the Sims - it offers fulfilment of our most mundane wishes, with none of the repercussions. Security, freedom, comfort, friends who don't mind if you turn up at their door and demand to use their shower at 4am...

Those who decry the Sims as dreary and pointless don't appreciate the import of these oh-so-ordinary desires. No one really wants to be a mohawked Scottish commando or a fat cartoon plumber. Everyone wants to be able to sleep wherever they want, whenever they want.

Despite the delectable freedom offered by its tents, it's one of very few ways in which World Adventures reinforces what The Sims is best known for. To its credit, it doesn't repeat the formula of a Sims 1 or 2 expansion, but tries to break new ground for the flabby-but-fascinating people-management series. It's Tomb Raider with Sims. It's Diablo with toilet breaks. It's Pokemon with nudity. It's... well, it's not painstakingly orchestrating the daily lives of digital people, put it that way.

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It's the Terracotta Army! No, you can't make them go to the toilet too.

In practical terms, it's three large new towns for the game, alongside the two official ones. They're agreeably exotic destinations - distilled, compressed Greatest Hits of Egypt, China and France, containing miniaturised versions of their major sights. An extra option on the phone and PC menus whisks you off to one for a few in-game days, for an understandably but not unrealistically exorbitant in-game cost.

Once you're there, you can do the standard Sims thing - meet people, fulfil biological needs, amuse your Sim(s) with sights and activities, buy stuff. It's that pleasant mundanity again, only in dramatically more grandiose locales. One of my Sims spent three days in China watching couples play chess in the park. He seemed to enjoy it. I'm not convinced they felt the same.

While it's a game that can pull a lot of pleasure from simply watching your guys do stuff, the hands-off nature of so many of The Sims 3's more appealing activities meant there was an air of futility at times. Oh great, they get to have fun, but what about me? I'll just sit here and watch, shall I?

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Sims with a high Athletic skill will fare better in the dungeons. Fatty here takes a long time to clear rubble and push statues around.

Yet more deflating was the amount of stuff that wasn't even shown, let alone interacted with - all you got was the outside of a building, a floating progress bar if you were lucky, and then your Sim emerging a couple of minutes later with a temporarily altered statistic or two.

World Adventures fixes that - it's a smart response to the problem of your Sims stealing too much of your fun, and to justified accusations that The Sims 3's open world failed to shake up the venerable formula as much as had been hoped. Whilst on holiday, your Sims can take on quests. Maybe it's getting two other Sims to fall in love, maybe it's picking up pieces of rare metal scattered across certain bits of the landscape or maybe, and most appealingly, it's raiding an underground tomb.

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