IGN Review of The Sims 3 Ambitions Expansion Pack
The newest Sims 3 expansion, The Sims 3: Ambitions, isn't going to change your mind about the biggest PC gaming franchise ever. It doesn't radically reinvent the series, but it is much more substantial than I think a lot of people give Sims expansions credit for being. This isn't just a few new outfits or the ability to have a pet (though it does, of course, add new features both major and minor), this expansion radically alters the way characters pursue their careers, making for a more satisfying Sims experience.
In Sims 3 the main appeal is running and observing the life of your Sims -- little avatars you can give commands to. After creating your Sims -- which is a worthwhile thing in Ambitions, since several new traits and life goals have been added -- you get to jump into a large town and start deciding how you want them to live their lives. Previously you could dictate almost all their actions, with the notable exception being their job. Sure, you could pick their career, and in some cases you could directly control their livelihood if they were making ends meet as an artist or musician, but most jobs boiled down to your Sim disappearing during the day and you collecting a check when they were back.
Ambitions changes this dramatically, giving players the choice between having a career and a profession. Careers still operate the same way they always have (with the exception of the Doctor, who has enhanced profession features), while professions allow players to participate in their Sims jobs actively, never having to lose direct control over them. The included professions are Doctor, Ghost Hunter, Private Investigator, Stylist, Firefighter, and Architectural Designer. The jobs are every bit as varied as they sound and, more importantly, they're a lot of fun to play. Even the jobs I didn't think I had any interest in -- like the stylist -- manage to be fun and keep me engaged simply because they change from moment to moment, demanding more attention.
The reason professions manage to keep you so much more engaged than careers is that they allow you to craft a more in-depth story for you Sim -- ostensibly the entire reason for playing. Previously, players were making stories for their Sims outside of work, crafting their love lives and what have you, but work was largely just a drop down menu where you picked how hard they pushed themselves. Now that you can directly control them on the job you can really have their personalities shine through; evil Sims might steal while Ghost Hunting, or Firefighters who are lazy might stop to watch some T.V. while a house burns. How hard you work really is directly the result of how much you want to micromanage your Sim's life.
The only downside to the professions is that they're so much better than careers that they make me want more choices. Careers are downright boring compared to professions, and I can't picture myself going back to the old jobs, but ultimately having only six to choose from is not all that much. Not that I expect it to stay this way, as I'm just sure EA is prepping more professions for us to purchase in the Sims online store.
Other minor changes also come in the expansion, but with a few notable exceptions that add a lot of potential options to how you play. New traits and lifetime wishes are available for players just itching to create some new Sims, but the cooler, more substantial additions are in the new Inventing and Sculpting hobbies. Sculpting allows you to create statues of other Sims or even objects like chairs, while Inventing allows you to make several cool tools that can help your Sim in their life. For instance, your inventing Sim might create a Floor Hygienator which they can place in their house just so they can walk by to get cleaner. These hobbies are ultimately what you make of them, but are great ways for you to tell yet another story about your character. After all, who hasn't wanted to make a disturbed mad inventor who just sits in his house and tinkers day in and out? Or maybe an obsessive sculptor who befriends Sims just so he can get them to come over to craft their bodies in clay?
When so many Sims expansions have seemed relatively inconsequential, Ambitions stands out for how substantially it alters a key component of the game. The new profession system will doubtless keep Sims 3 fans busy for many more hours, and the other additions included will also give players plenty of new stories to tell for Sims both new and old. If this is the type of content we can expect from Sims 3 expansions going forward, content that evolves core game mechanics, color me impressed.
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