Tis the season for The Sims 3: Seasons! Or it was about a month ago, but I just finally got around to sitting down with the latest expansion pack for The Sims 3. Over all, the latest add-on to EA's addictive game brings a few fun things to the table, the largest of which is obviously the introduction of seasons.
Note: The Sims 3: Seasons is an expansion pack that requires the base Sims 3 game to work. This review is based on the EP played on a MacBook Pro OS X (Version 10.8.2).
Many of us have been hopeful that The Sims would finally introduce an expansion pack that changes the seasons on our Sims' world. Seasons does that, giving us snowy days, rain and thunderstorms and scorching hot summer weather. While there's no new world with this EP, the addition of weather adds a layer of newness to each neighborhood. It might not be quite as exciting as a new world, but it's great seeing snow fall on Sunset Valley. And I especially love the roaring rumble of thunder that accompanies some rainstorms.
Weather isn't the only addition to Seasons. Players can enjoy outdoor festivities, including seasonal Festivals, which feature season-themed games and activities. For summer, your Sim might enjoy a hot dog eating contest or skating on the roller rink. In winter, ice skating and snowboarding are among the activities. The pond freezes over and Sims can ice skate on it, which is a nice touch. Sims can win festival tickets, which can be redeemed at the booths for fireworks and other things. The festival experience is really the central way for Sims to enjoy each season and socialize with one another in new ways (including kissing booths and apple bobbing!)
The seasonal festivals aren't the only way for Sims to celebrate the changing weather. In the fall, Sims can rake leaves into piles for burning or playing in, or put on costumes to go trick-or-treating. In the winter, snow can be used for igloos and snowmen, and also for snowball fights. In the summer, water balloon fights are fun and Sims can also take a dip in the pool (using the diving board!). There's also a soccer net for a bit of outdoor sports. And when it rains, Sims can use an umbrella to keep from getting soaked. Sims can throw seasonal parties, which vary from season to season. In the winter, the "gift-giving party" includes everyone showing up with a gift. Another season has a potluck party called a Feast party, where guests show up with food. There's also a costume party and a pool party.
With weather comes a few drawbacks, like viruses and allergies, or Sims getting too hot or too cold. The right clothing can keep a Sim comfortable, and a trip to the hospital can rid a Sim of a pesky cold. Another downside of weather is the chance of getting struck by lightning. This happened to my Sim, who got zapped while at work. The result of this was having her look all burnt up until I was able to get her into the shower to rinse off, but she survived the ordeal. In addition to the diving board and the weather, The Sims 3: Seasons also brings back the aliens. Not only are aliens abducting Sims on occasion, but they may also stop in for a visit, which gives Sims a chance to meet and befriend them. I have yet to encounter any aliens during my gameplay, but I hear collecting space rocks and keeping them in your inventory increases the chance that an alien might visit during the night.
Since The Sims 3 was released, I've been waiting for the opportunity to let my Sim swim in the ocean. Seasons makes it possible! Sims can't swim in lakes or ponds from what I've been able to tell, but they now have the option to take a dip in the ocean, which gives Sims another reason to go to the beach, especially if they don't have a pool.
Behind the scenes, you can adjust the weather in the settings to control which weather is featured and how frequently the seasons change. In build mode, there's a cool blue print architecture mode that allows you to lay down preset rooms to build a house (or add onto it). There are also plenty of new objects to keep your Sims house updated for the changing weather. That includes a horseshoe court, soccer net, snowboarding half pipe and an umbrella.
The Sims 3: Seasons isn't a game-changer the way World Adventures and Showtime were, but in terms of delivering on what many of us have been waiting for, it certainly succeeds. I was also grateful to note that I didn't experience any lags in the game when the weather change. If I recall, that was an issue when The Sims 2 incorporated weather. On the down-side, I did experience numerous game crashes while I played it. Crashes occurred with no rhyme or reason (and I have no custom content installed, so that shouldn't be an issue).
If the crashing is a bug (as opposed to just an issue with my computer), hopefully it'll be fixed soon, because it's a pretty time-consuming one. Other than that, I have no complaints about the EP. Is it worth the retail cost of $39.99? Like I said, it's not a game-changer in that it doesn't add a substantial amount of additional game-play beyond visiting the festival. But it's one of the most fun and picturesque expansion packs to join the collection for The Sims 3, which makes it a nice refresher to a game that's been around for more than three years.
Developer: EA Play/The Sims Studio
Publisher: Electronic Arts