The Sims 3 Pets Review

The Sims 3 Pets

I wake up pretty early every morning, shower quickly, get dressed in a hurry, and ship off to work for eight or nine hours. Sometimes I don’t even have time to eat. Sometimes I don’t brush my teeth. Work becomes life and life, work. When I get home late at night, I’m usually too tired go out, let alone do something extracurricular. Maybe I’ll watch some television. Maybe I’ll read a book or browse the internet a little. Most of the time, though, I pass out, wake up and do it all over.

This is not a description of my daily routine, though it is close. This was the banality dealt to my young-adult-something-year-old as he began his career in The Sims 3 Pets. The life was borne, but quickly turned.

The Sim 3: Pets is the newest addition to the 11-year-old EA franchise. This time, the pet becomes the focus and the master takes the back seat. After tinkering with the macrocosm of options for creating your pet (there are numerous species, coat patterns, snout styles, etc.), the game opens up.

While there are plenty of offers to stir the pot, from solving ghost mysteries (it’s a Scooby Doo reference, get it?) to an exuberant amount of locations to visit, I remained trapped in my 9-5 schedule. My family consisted of my avatar character and his dog: a British bulldog named Butkus Stormaggedon. This meant that when my sim-self went to work for the majority of the day, I was stuck with an ambling, aimless dog.

Not too much going on here, folks.

I haven’t played the Sims since Living Large. My divorce from the games spurred from my manic nature of collecting and owning everything available. I wanted to buy all the stupid stuff offered: the worthless paintings, the fancy coffee maker, everything. So in the old days, I’d cheat my face off, build a planet of a house and stock it with useless crap I’d never use. After about 10 or so hours, I’d get really bored of it and quit.

Not this time. I kept my modest starting money amount and bought the little house offered to me. I got a job with the military because it had the best money. I tried working and doing things naturally. Surprisingly, this style of play harbored a really organic relationship with my avatar and his pet. It was genuinely exciting to pair these two together after a long, dull day of making Butkus chase his own tail or dig a hole in the front lawn.

When I did have time to control the human character, I was bombarded with goals my sim wanted to fulfill. Apparently Greg Stormaggedom was self-aware. The goals (maybe suggestions is a better word) for my sim were a clever tool to focus such an expansive game, but they quickly became tiresome. I grew to hate the little reminder that would appear in the corner of the screen, informing me of the new skill or job my sim wanted to attain. It’s not fun when a game acts like Navi.

On the other hand, for Butkus, the goals were effortless. I could do them all day when they consisted of “I want to bark at something!” or “Man, my master really likes the paper. I should fetch it for him!” Fetch away you bubbly little beast. Fetch away.

The game also adds a Karma Power system. Basically, if you fulfill certain challenges, you’re rewarded points to spend on different powers. The powers aren’t anything exciting, ranging from rejuvenating a weary sim so they work more with less to electing “bad karma” on someone else. You can also use these points to unlock new areas, furniture and clothing.

With the Sims, you’re given a broken car, essentially. The car won’t start without assistance. You have to push it for a bit to get it rolling. Once it has enough speed, you pop it into gear and cruise away. This system works, for the most part, in Pets. The only trouble comes when you don’t have another sim to play with. In my “bachelor on the prowl” scenario, leaving Butkus to fend for himself all day ended with him chewing on a park bench and peeing on my neighbor’s yards. Hilarious? Yes. Fun to play? No.

The stiff controls and lagging camera only add insult to injury. Textures, even characters, will be out of place or inexistent at some points. The transition from your neighborhood to any other location on the map warrants a load screen. Not a short one, either. You know you’re in for the long haul when the game gives you a countdown clock during loads.

Adding the ability to control pets in The Sims seems wholesome and intriguing, but the end result is less so. The cyclical format of starting young, growing old and creating a family in between  has always been a staple The Sims games executed well. Unfortunately, playing that same construct through the eyes of your pet isn’t as interesting as all those Disney movies make it seem.


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Author: Greg Galiffa View all posts by
Greg Galiffa is an Associate Editor at GamerNode. He's also an apologist for the first TMNT film. You can follow him on Twitter @greggaliffa

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