The first Sims 3 expansion pack of 2013 has arrived. If you played The Sims 2 University, you’ll know more or less what to expect from The Sims 3 University Life. And if you liked that expansion pack, you’ll really love this one.

As the name suggests, University Life adds the ability for Sims, young adult and older, to attend university and potentially earn a degree that will give them a bit of an advantage over less educated Sims. When you first start up your household, a university mascot will bring you a welcome kit. Among other goodies, this kit contains an aptitude test that Sims can complete. It analyses their personality, skills and job experience, and awards credit for appropriate degrees. For instance, an artistic Sim with a high painting skills will receive credits towards a Fine Art degree. They may even earn a scholarship to reduce study fees.

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A Sim may enrol in university at any time, choosing the degree they wish to study for, how many terms they wish to stay, and how heavy their workload should be. A degree is 48 credits, and a term is one week. A Sim can only stay at university for two weeks at a time, and there is a limit to the number of credits they can earn in a term, so it is unlikely that they will complete their degree in one visit. If they are overworked (or they goof off in class), it is possible they will fail their final exam! Either way, once they enrol, the Sims head off to the university ‘sub town’, which is much like the World Adventures holiday towns. The rest of your family is suspended while you load the university town.

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Sims University is a rather attractive little town, complete with English style university departments, as well as a number of community lots, dormitories, sororities, fraternities, and small houses. Once they’ve decided where they’ll be staying for the term, Sims can start exploring the town, attend the meet and greet for new students, or start studying (or partying) right away.

Like a real-life university experience, Sim students can decide to slack off and spend their time socialising, or to hit the books and do well, or they might stay somewhere in-between. Sims have to study, attend lectures and write exams at the end of every term. The harder a Sim works (and the better their mood), the higher their final grade will be, giving them access to better benefits when they graduate. Benefits include starting a career related to their major at a higher salary and a little higher up the corporate ladder.

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There are several new skills in University Life, including the science skill, which allows Sims to conduct gene splicing and other amusing experiments. There is also the street art skill, which involves spraying graffiti around the place. Finally, there is the social networking skill, which Sims can access using their new smartphone, where they can start a blog and perhaps eventually earn a bit of money through sharing their opinions.

A completely new feature is the addition of social groups. Sims can be rebels, jocks, or nerds (or even all three), and they can ‘level up’ in these social groups to gain access to new benefits, additional traits and even unique job opportunities. Doing ‘nerdy’ activities like science experiments, reading comic books or playing chess will all increase your nerd status. Rebels can become more rebellious by holding protests, spraying street art around the place and daring other Sims to do things like ‘divide by zero’. Finally, jocks can engage in sporty activities, throwing parties and winning at games like pool or bowling. Socialising with other members of these groups can also increase your standing with the group. This is a fun new mechanic that offers some entertaining and unique interactions.

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There is also a supernatural Sim in University Life, the PlantSim, which returns from The Sims 2 Seasons. Like other supernatural Sims, PlantSims look different from ‘human’ Sims (namely green and leafy) and have a few ‘planty’ special abilities, and as such are great gardeners. As with any expansion pack, there are many new items of furniture, many of which are skill objects relating to the various degrees and social groups. There is also ‘dorm’ style furniture. There are a number of new hairstyles for both men and women, and plenty of clothing items that just scream ‘student.’

Sims 3: University Life
Summary
If you are not a fan of leaving your Sims’ house and going away on a mini-adventure, especially a time consuming one such as this, you may not enjoy all that University Life has to offer. However, there are real benefits that Sims can gain from completing a degree (or two!), including being wealthier and having more ‘personality’.
7.5
Sims 3: University Life was reviewed on PC

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