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The Sims 3


 A nearly overwhelming amount of options, data, and details come packed into The Sims 3. Improving on everything from the last two editions, the newest game about running digital lives feels far more organic and customizable. Everything from the angle of characters’ chins to the pattern on their shoes can be altered according to players’ whims. Ornate houses can be built from the ground up. You can craft personalities from dozens of options, building anything from a charismatic, schmoozing party animal to an insane genius who dreams of becoming an evil overlord. And you’re no longer constantly forced to push your Sims to pee, bathe, and eat; the AI has been improved and the timers reduced so that play focuses more on life decisions than basic needs.

While the graphics haven’t been dramatically updated from The Sims 2, everything is a little smoother, and there’s plenty of new animation. Added realism might not be good if you aren’t interested in seeing virtual vomiting when your Sim eats something bad.

One of the most dramatic changes is the lack of load screens. You can watch your Sims as they jog to the park or drive to work, and they can socialize with people they pass on the street. There are new options for the formerly dead time when your Sims are at work or school. You can choose to have them slack off and relax, chat with co-workers at the water cooler, or try to catch up on last night’s homework. Sadly, while you can receive rewards for these decisions, you can’t see them in action. Most public buildings have no accessible interiors. It’s a lost opportunity when you could otherwise maneuver your characters to hit on the cute secretary or play with classmates at recess.

Beyond the game: New clothing, furniture, and hairstyles for your Sims are available for purchase at thesims3.com. 

Worth playing for: The opportunity to make highly intricate social and career decisions is sure to appeal to any control freak, or anyone who’s dreamed of trying out an entirely different life path.

Frustration sets in when: Difficulty zooming makes you waste time trying to find the spot where you want to send your Sim.

Final judgment: Even more addictive than the last two.