- Editor's Rating
EA has released The Sims 3 Seasons, the eighth expansion pack for The Sims 3 franchise, which launched in 2009. One of the greatest aspects of playing The Sims, from the first Sims to The Sims 3, is that the game is really what you make of it. There are so many variables that affect gameplay, which increase with each expansion pack.
It starts with the player, they create a traditional Sim working a 9-5 at the local bookstore, or one whose ambition is to become a rock star, or a criminal, or a politician, or an athlete, or a world-renowned surgeon, and much more. Between the mix of personality traits available for a Sim, life goals, jobs, careers, age, the random generated NPC characters, and the personality of the player; most anything is possible. That being said, each expansion pack introduces subtle nuances to the game, in addition to new character traits and objects, and The Sims 3 Seasons is no exception. The additions are clever and often revealed only with exhaustive gameplay or time, as evident by the ever-evolving wikis and walkthroughs, which grow slowly as new features are discovered.
Traditionally, with The Sims 3 expansion packs, there will be a new town or world included, which maximizes the new elements of the expansion pack. Seasons is an exception, as it did not come with a new town. While some players were disappointed by the lack of a new town, developers have stood by their choice, claiming that it came down to enabling all towns from previous expansion packs to be compatible with Seasons, or creating a new town and leaving the other towns without seasons. It might seem disappointing, but once the seasons are put into play, it makes sense why developers focused on updating previous towns. Each season is well thought out, and is incredibly detailed and realistic. After playing with Seasons, it\’s hard to imagine how I could stand a perfectly sunny day, every day.
The automatic setting for each season is 7 days long, but it can be adjusted, and certain seasons can be omitted, as well as certain weather patterns. Alternatively, one season can be permanently set for a town in a save file. Each season has a specific holiday, which is celebrated with a festival in the town\’s main park. A main park has been designed by developers that will work best with each town, and when the player loads the town for the first time, it prompts them with the option to update the town with the new lot now or to do it later.
The weather animation is impressive, clouds will darken to forewarn a storm, snow will gradually melt away, the wind will howl and blow trees around, among other effects. Generally, each expansion pack for The Sims 3 includes a new occult Sim, and more often than not, it is a nod to previous versions of The Sims and The Sims 2. The occult figure added into seasons, is Aliens, which was originally introduced in The Sims 3. Aliens can make a visit to a Sim town, and Sims can befriend them, leading to the possibility of being abducted or going for a joy ride in a spaceship.
When launching a town with seasons for the first time, the default season is summer. Here is what each season brings:
Sims now have the ability to swim in the ocean, have pool parties, and go tanning. Sims can sit in the sun to develop a natural tan, or they can make use of the tanning booths, which gives them a spray tan. The quality of the spray tan isn\’t always perfect, and other Sims can meddle with it, causing the Sim to get an uneven cover. Alternatively, Sims can spend too much time in the sun, causing them to get a sun burn or even death by spontaneous combustion.
Daylight is longer in the summer and heat waves can set Ways to avoid heat exhaustion are by holding a parasol while outside, eating ice cream, and having the trait or using lifetime reward points to buy the trait \”Immune to heat\”. The summer holiday is Leisure Day, loosely based off the 4th of July, complete with fireworks.
Throughout the fall season, the temperature begins to drop and the leaves begin to change, eventually falling to the ground. Foliage is accurate to real life, meaning, only deciduous trees will change color. There is also rain during this season, and every other season if the temperature is above freezing, although the bulk of the rainstorms come during spring. If a Sim heads out on a warm fall day in a t-shirt and shorts, but doesn\’t change by dusk, they can start to feel a chill from the drop in temperature. Sims can rake up fallen leaves and jump in the piles as the season winds down, heading into winter. At the festival for fall, Sims can bob for apples, take part in a pie eating contest, or pick a pumpkin to carve. During Spooky Day, a Sim version of Halloween, Sims can dress up and go trick or treating house to house.
Winter is one of the most interesting seasons visually, as the snow varies in severity, and can pile up pretty high, forcing Sims to trudge through knee deep snow that blankets the town. If it gets cold enough and a pond freezes over, Sims now have the option to skate on it. Sims can also take a dip in the ocean, and can get the Polar Bear Club moodlet, making them immune to the cold for a while. They can also have a snowball fight, build a snowman, build an igloo, or make snow angels when snow is present.
Sims now have an outerwear category, so that when they go outside in certain temperatures and seasons, they automatically switch to that clothing. If a Sim is out in the cold for too long, players will be able to see a Sims\’s breath, and if left out in the cold without winter gear, a Sim can freeze to death. Sims can now contract colds as well, which will automatically get them a sick day from work or from School, but will require rest or a trip to the doctors to feel better. During winter, the holiday is Snowflake Day, which keeps Sims home from work and school. When the snow begins to melt away the day before spring, there is a foggy effect on the snow, to simulate melting, and then by morning it slowly disappears.
The best part of spring is, undoubtedly, the thunderstorms. The first time I experienced a full thunderstorm, I actually jumped at a clap of lightning. Players should be careful letting a Sim walk out in the middle of a storm, since Sims can be struck by lightning, a new form of death in the game. If a Sim is caught outside without an umbrella, they will be hit with a \”drenched\” moodlet and will create puddles wherever they are until the moodlet wears off, or until they change clothes. However, as long as an umbrella is in a Sims\’s inventory, they will automatically pull it out of their physics defying pocket in the event of a storm.
At the festival in town, Sims can hunt for Festival Eggs, and pick them up when they come across them. These translate into festival tickets, which can ultimately translate into money if you sell them. Love Fest is the spring holiday, which has kissing booths, a roller skating rink, face painting, a dance floor, cooking competitions on grills, among other little activities. Soccer has also been added to the game, and a match usually takes place during the festival.
Spring also brings allergies, which can be present any season, but are especially present during Spring. To avoid this, Sims can get an allergy shot at the local hospital to keep from sneezing. Sims with severe allergies can experience a sort of brain fog, represented by a moodlet. Some other interesting aspects of Spring are that rainbows will appear after a storm, collectible wildflowers grow, and trees slowly regrow leaves.
Overall, The Sims 3 Seasons expansion pack does not add the same type of dynamic as say, Supernatural might, which introduced witches, fairies, werewolves and more to the game, but it certainly adds a new dimension. For those who enjoy playing the game at a more realistic level, rather than as a crime fighting vampire living in a split level, then Seasons is a great addition. For players who are more interested in new objectives, careers, towns, lots, and characters, then they may want to wait until this one goes on sale. One thing to note is that this is the first expansion pack in the history of The Sims franchise that has crossover with another expansion pack. Players, who also have Supernatural installed, will be able to conjure up weather using a \”weatherstone\” with their occult Sims, so even the crime fighting vampire can benefit from Seasons. The seasons are realistic and fun, and add a new social dynamic to each installed town, through Festivals and Holidays. Overall, the Seasons expansion pack brings character and a sense of separation to each (roughly) 24 minute long day.