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The Sims 3 Pets
Score: 90%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: EA Games
Developer: The Sims Studio
Media: Blu-ray/1
Players: 1
Genre: Simulation/ God Games

Graphics & Sound:
Once again, we are treated to another amazingly addictive Sims game, The Sims 3 Pets. Fair warning though, once you start playing, you'll find that you completely lose track of time and have to pull yourself away from the TV screen!

The Sims 3 Pets looks exactly like The Sims 3 does with the exception of the added pets, which is quite a lot actually. There are so many dog breeds, over 90 of them, that you will spend months if you want to try them all out. If you buy the Limited Edition of the game, then you'll get 10 extra exclusive "Rare Breeds" as well and funny enough, most of those were some of my favorites. They add things like a "Panda" and a "Tiger" coloring. There aren't quite as many cat breeds to choose from, but there aren't as many cat breeds in the real world, so you'd expect that. There are still about 30 and I was impressed with how well they managed to make them all look different. With both the dogs and the cats, you can have a lot of fun seeing what one coloring would look like on a different breed under the Coat Option. Things like a Doberman coat on a Pug are just entertaining. There are also really nice details about the game that I love, like the fog rolling in on the mornings. It's really cool looking and really adds to the mystery stories and ghost hunting.

I find that I need to add my own background music while I'm playing The Sims 3 Pets. You can have the radio on, but if the Sims are sleeping, they'll turn it off and the volume changes the further away your cursor is from the source. The characters speak Simlish, but if you have things on the very fast speed, it feels like you're missing a lot of sounds as the Sims talking skips a lot. It is quite amusing to listen to the Sims' language though. Sometimes I would leave it on normal speed just to hear their conversations.

It is important to note that The Sims 3 Pets has to install data before you can play, which took about 10 minutes. This is not a game that you're going to put in and play for a few minutes. You might think that you're going to, but then 3 hours later, you've missed dinner and stood up your friends for the movies. Once you get the game started up, you can start by creating a Sim. If you don't want to, you can choose a pre-made family and just jump right in, but I think most people like making themselves, their friends, and their pets to play with. You can pretty much make anybody that you could want to create. You can change their height, weight, skin tone, face, eyes, hair, and so much more. You can make them old or young, but you have to have at least one young adult or above per household. You can't have a house full of just kids. You have to have at least one Sim in your house, but you can create as many as you want. Be careful though, because they will all need to fit in your house.

You are given $20k to start with to buy a house. You can choose to have it pre-furnished which is much easier, but not as custom. As you can tell, just setting up your game can take over an hour if you're customizing it exactly as you want. Personally, I just get the house furnished and upgrade as I have money. Upgrading items is very important. If you find that you're having trouble getting your Sims enough sleep, try upgrading the beds as they'll get more energy quicker. The same thing goes for the rest of the things in your house. Make sure that you keep things upgraded as you can afford to, as it will make your life a lot easier.

As you're playing, your Sim will have wishes like any normal person. You can choose to accept these wishes or ignore them, but accepting them and completing wishes will earn you Lifetime Happiness points. The more of these you can rack up, the better off you are, so really try and make all your Sims' wishes come true. You are also going to need to get your Sims a career so that they can earn money. Improving skills that are relevant to their career will help in their job performance. Your pets can also earn money, quite a lot actually. When your dog digs up relics, they will be sold to the museum automatically for a nice profit. Anything else that they dig up will automatically be added to your household inventory and can be sold if you wish. The higher their digging skills, the better items that they uncover. Your pet cats can go ghost hunting for their job. You really don't have to worry about your pets much. They are pretty good at taking care of themselves and will even catch a cab home if they are in another part of town and need to get home. I love that pets do real things like sleep on your bed when you're not home and tear up the furniture. You can adopt new pets at the pet center. You can also breed your pets with other household pets or even pets around town to produce your own custom pets.

There are several things that you need to do to keep your Sims happy. Just keeping their basic needs up is not always easy, but it gets easier as you go. The wishes that your Sims have can be easy, but the ones that are worth the most points are usually quite a bit harder to achieve. Sometimes that means that you have more work to do, but sometimes that just means that they take longer to accomplish. Things like making a specific Sim a friend is usually not too hard, but making them into a best friend can take a lot longer! In addition to wishes, there are Karma Challenges for performing specific tasks. These aren't always easy. With some of them, you can just get by letting your characters do what they want, but with others you'll have to take charge and make your Sims do what you want them to. You can get a list of the Karma Challenges by pressing (Select) and choosing Challenges.

In Options, you can set their lifespan, so if you tend to attach to particular Sims, you might want to make them live longer. If you don't like dealing with kids, you can make that time shorter, or however you want to customize your game experience. This can make your game a lot easier as well because the more you improve certain skills, like logic, the better that Sims will do in school and their careers. If you make them children and such for longer, then you have more time to improve skills which makes it a lot easier to get them to the top of their career!

Game Mechanics:
Playing The Sims 3 Pets on the PS3 is a bit different from playing on a PC. The Left Stick serves as your cursor and the Right Stick moves the camera. Holding down the Left Stick (L3) until it clicks will center the camera on your Sims. This is a very handy trick to keep up with dogs, especially when they're "sniffing out something!" The rest of the controls are pretty much a matter of hitting the button that it shows on the screen to make things happen to the Sims. Anything that you can't find on the screen is most likely under the (Select) Menu. There you will find the Build and Buy Mode, Town Map, Karma Powers, Challenges and more. Under the (Start) Menu, you will also find some handy things like Save. The game does not autosave, so make sure to periodically save in case of power failure or anything else that might happen. You do not want to lose hours of gameplay just because you forgot to save. You can also access the Lessons from the (Start) Menu. These are going to be your best reference when you can't figure out how to do something or when you just need a bit more information about the game.

As has been true with all of The Sims games, The Sims 3 Pets is very highly addictive. With the addition of absolutely adorable pets to the already addictive game, you will find yourself entertained for months on end from one single game. If you like these type games, I highly recommend that you pick up The Sims 3 Pets today!

-Cyn, GameVortex Communications
AKA Sara Earl

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