They can become fire-fighters or private investigators, visit the Pyramids of Egypt or the Great Wall of China, adopt a dog or horse, raise werewolf children and now; your Sims can go to university! EA Games released their ninth expansion pack for The Sims 3 this month. University Life allows adult Sims to experience all the highs and lows of being a third level student.
There are 6 courses to choose from; Business, Technology, Fine Arts, Communications, Physical Education and Science and Medicine. Each term is one week long with final exams taking place every Friday. To give them the best possible start, Sims are given their class schedules and a chance to “meet and greet” their fellow students as soon as they arrive on campus.
There’s a small but interesting new town to explore with plenty of great locations such as a coffee shop, bowling alley, comic book store and Student Union. Sims can choose to live in dorms, fraternities, sororities or – if they have enough Simoleans in the bank – they can rent a private house.
A certain amount of financial support is available for Sims who are strapped for cash or for those who have earned scholarships. If Sims maintain a high GPA whilst in college, they can even apply for additional funds to keep them going until graduation. If they’re really stuck, they can also check out the noticeboards around campus.
When your Sims start college, it can be challenging enough at first to keep up with studies and your social life, although it won’t take too long to get the hang of it. Eventually you’ll probably even find yourself regularly “fast-forwarding” through certain bits. The classes can drag a bit and if you live far away from the main buildings, it seems to take forever for your Sims to get around!
Socialising is a big part of University Life so who you hang out with and what you do can shape your reputation and possibly even your future career. There are three social groups: the rebels, the nerds and the jocks. You can easily be a part of each group in some way, although the more involved you are with a particular group; the more benefits it unlocks for you. If you want to be in with the jocks, be sure to attend plenty of parties and participate in some team sports at the stadium. Embrace your inner nerd by clocking in the hours playing computer games and reading comics. The rebels will welcome you if you organize some protests and indulge in a little street art – although you risk arrest and a hefty fine! The social groups are definitely a great feature while your Sim is a student but when they enter the “real world”, it just becomes slightly annoying. After all, real grown-ups aren’t supposed to care about things like that 😉
In my game, I sent three Sims to college at the same time and after the lengthy routine of going to classes and getting them to study; I was looking forward to graduation time. It was a big disappointment then when the ceremony only involved them entering a building and emerging a while later in their gowns. It definitely would have been more interesting, and certainly more satisfying, for the player to be able to watch the ceremony and interact with fellow graduates throughout it.
Even more annoying was that my Sims were all whisked home before they could throw one last party on campus. What’s a graduation without a celebration?! To be honest, I felt that it was a poor conclusion to the whole experience. It was such a let-down because it took quite a while to rack up the 48 credits per Sim that is required to obtain a degree.
When they returned home, each of my Sims were offered jobs relating to their degrees. One was given a head-start in his career based on his social status while the other two earned high entry levels due to good grades. One Sim who graduated with an A was even given an extra personality trait.
Perhaps the most disappointing aspect of this new game is that when you send Sims to college, anyone who is left behind seems to put their lives on hold. When Sims return home at the end of term, nothing will have changed. It would be so much more interesting and realistic if they came back to find – for example – that their parents have divorced, their sister had twins or their brother has a new job. Instead, it all stays exactly the same, which is just a bit dull.
With new expansion packs, I love discovering all the finer details that add to the game’s realism. When you’re creating Sims in University Life, there are lots of great new outfits to choose from as well as three fun new personality traits: avant-garde, irresistible and socially awkward. New interactions include ‘heat of the moment kiss’ and ‘perform school cheer’. There is also a whole host of new objects for the home including juice kegs, vending machines, sketchpads, Murphy beds and bonfires. One particularly fun new object is the smartphone. Every Sim gets their own personal smartphone which they can use not just for phone calls but also for texting, studying, taking better pictures, browsing the web and (of course, my personal favourite!) updating their blogs. Blogs are a great new way for Sims to share their thoughts and maybe even earn a little pocket money.
Another really interesting feature in this expansion is the return of the PlantSim. If a regular Sim obtains, plants and tends a ‘forbidden fruit’ seed; then they can grow their own baby in the ground! My first baby plantSim was born with the ‘green thumb’ and ‘loves the outdoors’ traits. My second baby plantSim, however, was born with the ‘dislikes children’ and ‘evil’ traits! Just like regular baby Sims, they both need lots of love and naps but apart from that, they’re pretty self-sufficient.
Another way to get a new addition to the household is with the Science Research Station. Anyone with a high level of science can play around with DNA samples and create a clone. I can’t decide if this is fun or just a bit too strange that a little baby Sim can pop out of this machine!
If I was to rate the game out of ten, I would probably give it a seven. The anticlimactic graduation and the fact that nothing changes at home while they’re at college are the main flaws. There’s also quite a few annoying little glitches in this pack. I’m sure they will be fixed soon enough but it can be frustrating in the meantime, as they do interrupt the flow of the game. Having said that, it does run okay for the most part and there are lots of fun new features to play with and explore. This expansion provides the player with some interesting challenges and, of course, it broadens the Sims’ scopes. Overall, it is actually a pretty decent game. If you were only going to have a few expansion packs rather than the whole extensive range; this would be a good one to have in your collection.