The Sims franchise, now 12 years old, has enjoyed a variety of expansion and stuff packs to enhance and expand the gameplay experience. The Sims 3 is no different. At this point in time, there are five Sims 3 expansion packs available, with another one on the way. If you don’t already have any or all of them, you may be looking to expand your collection. Read on for a run-down of each expansion pack; hopefully this will help you decide which one(s) to invest in.
An expansion pack for The Sims traditionally includes new gameplay based around a particular theme, as well as a variety of related objects for decorating your house and town. There are also themed outfits and hairstyles. A stuff pack, on the other hand, includes all of the above, except for the new gameplay. Some of The Sims 3 expansion packs are similar in theme to those released for Sims 1 or 2, while others are completely new.
This first expansion pack is reminiscent of the holiday-themed packs for Sims 1 and 2, though it is only really similar from the point of view that you can take one or more of your Sims to a completely new location and not have to worry about work for a while. Also similar is the number of bugs associated with going on holiday, but these bugs seem to vary by how up to date your game is, as well as how lucky or unlucky you are!
So, assuming all goes well, your Sims can visit one of three exotic locales, each inspired by a real-world location: China, France, and Egypt. Each is wonderfully detailed and you really feel like your Sims are visiting a foreign country. Each ‘country’ also includes new skills that can be learned, for instance Martial Arts in China. You can also purchase the items you’ll need to hone that skill at home. The different countries also have their own unique plants and fish that you can take home.
World Adventures also allows you to buy vacation homes and build basements, as well as including a host of related items and clothing. The real attraction of this expansion pack is the actual adventure bit. Like a Sim version of Indiana Jones, you can stock up on supplies and head into the nearest tomb or pyramid. You then get to guide your Sim towards secret passages or hidden switches, navigate traps or dig through rubble to collect treasure and relics. This is rather fun as there are numerous locations in each world that you can explore. Completing the various adventures can be done at any time or as part of ‘quest lines’ (really just a series of related opportunities).
If you’re willing to put up with the relatively long load times of visiting the new worlds (something I despised in Sims 1 and 2 and was very glad to see was gone from Sims 3), as well as backing up your save files in case something horrible happens to your family (like getting stuck in the location or even vanishing), then the quest/adventure based gameplay and the exotic locations are well worth it.
While some Sims 3 expansion packs are similar to previous ones from Sims 1 or 2, Ambitions is entirely new. For the first time ever, you can follow your Sims to work. A new profession system is introduced here, including ghost hunting, private investigating and fire fighting. The old jobs are still available, where your Sim disappears into a building for the day and returns a little grumpier than before. But if your Sim chooses to enter a profession, you get to direct their every move, with some professions requiring more input than others.
If your Sim decides to be a fireman, he will spend all day at the fire station maintaining the truck and the alarm while waiting for an emergency. When one occurs, your Sim dashes off (oddly alone, even though there are always several NPC firefighters at the station) to the site. Without input from you, your Sim will eventually get round to putting out some of the fires, but with your direction, will be a lot more successful. The same applies when catching ghosts, which your Sim will do a fairly good job of but will take a while. As always, a Sim does much better with an iron fist than a loose rein.
Other professions are even more hands-on. The stylist or architect professions require you to physically enter the Create-a-Sim or build modes to complete certain requirements. I always found these quite difficult, not only because of the tedious load times, but also because I often failed to complete the objectives for some unknown reason! Needless to say, there are professions to appeal to everyone. You can even register as self-employed and earn money from home, for example by selling paintings, sculptures or inventions. No longer will your artistic Sim seem like an unemployed bum, now he will have an official job description (even though he’ll still be loafing around at home)!
If you played The Sims Hot Date or The Sims 2 Nightlife, you’ve already got an idea of what the Late Night expansion pack is all about. The real benefit in the Sims 3 is that there’s no pesky loading times when you want to take your date to a restaurant! Late Night features many new gameplay options related to the night time scene. If that’s not your thing, there are plenty of stylish new formal and night-club related outfits and hairdos, and even some sexy underwear to keep your Sims looking great. You can also, for the very first time in The Sims, change muscle definition and breast size. While this adds nothing to gameplay, it does add just another level of realism to the game.
The new town is Bridgeport, a town (technically a city) full of high rise buildings where your Sims can rent apartments, as well as visit a variety of night time ‘hotspots’ from clubs to bars to lounges. Prowling the town now are vampires, identifiable by their slightly pale skin and glowing eyes, and of course the vampire tattoo on their necks. Your Sim may desire to join their ranks, and why wouldn’t they? Vampires are faster, stronger and smarter than other Sims… at night. You may find them a bit lethargic by day, and don’t leave them in the sun too long unless you want to come back to a sad little pile of dust where your vampire Sim was (no Twilight sparklers here!).
Up on the hill of Bridgeport, away from the high rises, are sprawling mansions, many of which belong to the celebrities of the town. Your Sims can become famous by associating with existing celebs (in fact, the lower levels of fame are quite contagious), earning them the attention of paparazzi, discounts on purchases, and the ability to succeed in the new film career path. Your famous Sim may also find themselves recognised in public, receiving free gifts from fans, or indeed, disgraced or even falsely accused. You may just find that it takes them ages to reach tonight’s happening club from all the way out on their estate (even with the new subway system, it still seems to take forever to travel around Bridgeport).
There are many other features in this expansion pack, including new skills like Mixology, as well as new instruments and the ability to form a band with other Sims. These features are also available in ‘normal’ Sim towns, although you may have to build certain venues. Even if your Sims don’t enjoy dancing all night long (on the floor or on the bar), there is plenty of new gameplay here to add to your experience.
Perhaps the most underrated expansion pack (some retailers were giving it away free with Pets at one stage!), it actually adds a lot of depth to the game. As the name suggests, this EP revolves around the different life stages that your Sims go through. As such, there are plenty of new clothes and items for younger Sims, including jungle gyms and tree houses for children. There are numerous new interactions that Sims of all ages can enjoy, either with their own age group or across generations. While it does seem like stuff that could have been included in the base game, so could weather and a host of other features.
Notable new features introduced in Generations (there is no new town, though there are new lots you can add to existing towns), there is a new profession, Day Care, where Sims drop their spawn at your house in the morning and pick them up when they get back from work, meaning your house will always be a chaotic place full of toddlers and children. Entertainment facilities are essential! Older Sims can purchase canes and reminisce about the good ol’ days, while children and teens can sign up for after school activities, as well as attend important events like the Prom and Graduation.
However, the best new feature in this expansion pack (perhaps even in any EP, ever) is the ability to ship your children and teens off to boarding school. Depending on your budget and plans for your Sim’s kids, you can choose from a number of schools, from military to art school, and you won’t see them again until the day they become young adults. They’ll even gain a few skill points and traits based on which school they went to. Genius!
This one’s a bit of a no-brainer. It adds pets to the game. If you liked either Sims Unleashed or Sims 2 Pets, you’ll probably like this. Especially since the formula has been dramatically improved. Pets are now playable Sims as opposed to live-in NPCs, meaning you can direct them however you want. Dogs and cats have the hunting ability now, so they can dig up treasures or catch critters for display in your home. Small pets like birds and lizards are still as… forgettable as ever, meaning your Sim might come home to a deceased critter if you weren’t paying attention.
Completely new is the addition of horses. These large Sims can join your household and help you earn money in the form of horse races. Your equestrian Sim will enjoy riding and competing with his trusty steed. Unicorns also occasionally appear in your town, and can be befriended and even adopted, if you make the time and effort. My family of vampires was perfectly complemented by a shiny unicorn.
Pets is a solid addition to the game; you don’t even have to own any pets if you don’t want to, but the option is there if ‘crazy cat lady’ is your sort of thing.
This expansion is coming out on 9 March, and looks like it’ll include some exciting new careers or professions related to the entertainment industry. It seems like it could tie in nicely with the celebrity features of Late Night. There will also be new social features (fortunately it sounds like these can be ignored), as well as some kind of achievement system. Fans of Katy Perry should get the special edition, which contains a few unique items inspired by the pop star.
We’ll be taking a deeper look at the “Stuff” packs soon!