The Sims 3: Ambitions preview

The Sims 3 Ambitions Preview

The Sims 3 made it possible for the very first time to send our Sims to an open world and let them go wherever they wanted. The Sims 3: World Adventres made it possible to send your Sims off to far away places and let them have all sorts of adventures. But yeah, even vacations come to an end sometimes and then it’s time to go home and start working again. Time for the Sims 3: Ambitions.

In the Sims 3: Ambitions we’ll get to see real interaction for the first time, to something that used to be “without interaction” for a very long time in the Sims series: going to work. Sure, we’ve got Sims 1: Superstars where your Sim could strive for an Hollywood job, Sims 2: Open for Business where your Sim could start their own venture and often it was possible to have a part-time job in a bistro for instance. But it was never really possible to have a real job where your Sim really goes into a building to do that job and where you could actually see and control him while doing his work. This is all changed in the Sims 3: Ambitions. So time for us to go check out how that works. That’s why we were invited on May 21st 2010 in the Dutch EA HQ, to check out the second expansionpack for the Sims 3. Below you’ll find our findings of this hands-on session of this expansion.

Careers

One of the biggest new additions to the Sims 3: Ambitions is the fact that we can finally go to work with our Sims (and the crowd goes wild!). This is a feature that has been requested by the community for many years. Admit it, it’s pretty fascinating to see what your Sims do while working. Well, maybe not always, but still it’s a fun idea to finally be able to go to your Sims work.

In Ambitions there is a difference between the new and the old careers. When you are looking for a new job via the computer, newspaper or your cell phone, you can choose for either jobs and careers. Jobs are the old jobs that we all know and love since the Sims 1; the boring (yes after playing Ambitions, the old jobs are boring) ones where your Sims go to work and come home, and you have know idea what they did in between. Careers are the new jobs that have been added to this expansion. These careers need much more input from the player. It’s not just lean back and relax with a fizzy drink while your Sims do their work and the cash rolls in. These careers really add new gameplay elements to the game, which off course is fun for us players. There are several careers that your Sim can choose from; from firefighter to stylist and from ghost buster to private investigator. So even in the new job market in Ambitions there is a suitable job for every Sim.

Firefighter

Who did’t dream to become an heroic firefighter when they were young? Well Ambitions can make this dream come true (for your Sims at least). When your Sim becomes a fire fighter, they spend most of their time in the fire station. You can actually see your Sim be there. What they do is mainly hang around a bit, toss a football and do maintenance on the fire truck and the alarms. That last one is especially important as the alarm is your call for action when there is a fire in town. When the bells ring, you jump in your uniform and run to the fire truck. On the worldmap, you’ll see where the fire is, and what type of fire it is. Once you’ve arrived on the place of the incident, your Sim starts to extinguish the flames. Once they are all out you, the house is still standing and everyone made it out alive, your Sim can return to the fire station tired, dirty and wet, but probably feeling pretty good with himself.

ts3ambitions_firefighter

But house fires are not the only thing your Sim has to do as a firefighter. There are also larger fires and even other disasters like earthquakes. Unfortunately we haven’t encountered those last two yet, but they seem spectacular.

While putting out a fire, you’ll see a little pop-up menu on the left side of the screen. Here you’ll find information on how to perform best on the job. It says the amount of time you’ve taken and several other things. In the end, your Sim gets a grade, depending on how he or she did. And based on that grade, your work experience may go up, which is off course good for that promotion you’ve been wanting so badly.

Inventor

The inventor carreer is a little different from the fire fighter. To become an inventor all youhave to do is call to the town hall and register. After that you are ready to start inventing whenever you want as a freelancer.

As an inventor you spend most of your time (you guessed it) inventing. This is done with a special work bench. You can use this to build objects which can be sold after you’ve completed them.

This way of working may look a lot like what you could do with the work bench in the Sims 2: Open for Business. It’s even possible to create your own robot at a certain point, but we haven’t been to that point yet, at least not without cheating ;-) (but more on that later). Inventing is also a new skill your Sim can have and develop. The more things you build, the more skill points you get, which in turn will unlock new stuff to invent. Unfortunatelly we didn’t have time to fully develop this skill and see what you can invent, but we’ve heard that you can even make a time machine!

The main difference with the work bench in Open for Business is that you now need to collect resources in order to build something: scrap. That right, the ones you’ll find at a junk yard. Luckilly there is enough of that in the new neighborhood on the two junkyards you can find there. Yep junkyards. Where else did you think that junk your Sim produced ended up?

On the junkyards are large heaps with scrap where your Sim can dig through to collect scrap (yeah, did you think you could stay clean in order to get scrap?). Some junkyards are filled with scrap, while others are empty, even though the heaps are just as big. Luckilly you’ll recognize scrap filled heaps by the stars that twirl around them. It’s even possible to blow up junkyards to find even more new stuff.

All scrap you’ll find on the junkyard ends up in your inventory, which in turn can be used to build stuff on your workbench. Oh, and you don’t really have to be an inventor to invent stuff. You can also just buy a workbench and still collect scrap on the junkyard. We couldn’t quite figure what the added value is to be an official inventor, but maybe it’s easier to invent stuff that way.

Lastly there is the robot. Probably it’s possible to build it yourself on the workbench (we couldn’t test it out), but it’s also possible to buy one yourself, with your lifetime reward points (for a whopping 40.000 points). The robot doesn’t really resemble the Servo bot from the Sims 1 and 2, but looks more like a rusty more square version of a Sim. The robot will become part of your household, is fully controllable and they can even go to work. Robots don’t need a lot to survive; just a few pieces of scrap as food is enough.

What else you can do with a robot is up to you to discover. We did have a lot of fun with our “new best friend”…

Ghostbuster

Ever since the Sims 1, our Sims have been teased by the ghost of passed away Sims. About time that something is done about this. As a ghostbuster, your Sim has to make sure that the neighborhood is safe again from all the threads from the beyond. What does that mean exactly? Well if you have ever seen the movie ‘Ghostbusters’, you might get a déjà vu with this career.

Ghostbusters work from their house and get jobs through the computer. Often it’s the case of making a house call to expel ghosts. This isn’t done in the traditional way by using scented cantles, bells or other exotic items, but you get a ginormous ghost sucking device, to clean all the ghosts from every corner of the house.

There is a difference between phantoms and ghosts. Phantoms are the known spirits of dead Sims, that haunt your house, ghosts are cute tiny cloudlike ghosts that don’t look like Sims at all. Untill now, we’ve only spotted ghosts in the game. We are not sure if you can also capture phantoms, but it is likely, given that there are screens of that (see the one above).

Ghosts that you capture are being placed in containers, which are then placed in your inventory. You can place this container in your home, or you can release the ghosts out of their containers. Nothing happens to the place where you set them free, the ghost is just free and happy again.

Stylist

All nice and well those careers as a firefighter or ghostbuster, but when you want something a little bit more low key, you can try the stylist career.

As a stylist you’ll work in the local hairdresser/tattoo shop. The task is pretty simple; you can give visitors a make-over. You can do this with several different make-over platforms that are scattered around the hairdressers. As soon as a Sim enters a make-over platform, a CAS screen opens where you can alter the Sim. You can do almost everything you can do in the ‘regular’ CAS, except for the genetical things like physical structure, skin color and off course the name.

You can decide to give every customer a complete make-over, but there is always a certain demand you have to fulfill. For example new clothes or a new haircut. And in the end it’s always a question whether or not the customer likes it. There is a lot to do in this career, and it’s a fun way to change the appearance of the Sims in your neighborhood. It can be a bit tiresome though after a little while to get into the CAS screen for every customer. You have to like it.
There is also the tattoo parlor, but we are unclear whether or not this is part of the stylist career. When we played we couldn’t do anything there, but maybe that’s part of a promotion. More on tatoos can also be read in this preview under the CAS section.

Sculptor

The career of sculptor looks a lot like that of architect. This is also a career that can be done from your own house and you also need to register first at the city hall. As a sculptor you can buy a special crafting bench where your Sim can create all kinds of creations of stone. This can be decorative items, but also functional objects like a chair made out of stone.

There is also a new skill that can be developed as a sculptor. The better you get at sculpting things, the more you can do. You can even make statues of your Sims, but we couldn’t quite get there in this preview. At least it’s an alternative way of making money, that proves itself more usefull when your Sim get better at sculpting. It can be fun, but you need a lot of patience to develop the skills of your Sim.

Interior decorator

It’s possible ever since the first part of the Sims, to build your own homes and decorate them. This is nothing new. Since the Sims 3 we’ve gotten a whole neighborhood that lives. We can visit the neighbors and take a look in their homes. And we’ve thought to ourselves, man that guy at EA did a crap job decorating this. With a career as interior decorator, you have a kind of influence on the houses in your neighborhood. When you take on this career, you get jobs from Sims all over the neighborhood. These jobs appear on the map and you can decide to take on one of these jobs or not.

But what does a job like this mean? Well it can be different things. You Sims want something simple, like a newly decorated bathroom. But sometimes they want more, like an inspiring place to paint. Whatever the job is, there are always things you need to take into account. Like the firefighter career, you get a small menu that mention several things. It states the furniture items you need to use. But it also mentions your budget; Sims don’t have an endless amount of money, so you can’t always use the most expensive items for a makeover, even if you like that better. Below the budget, you’ll see the left-over budget, so you don’t have to calculate yourself how many you can still spend.

Are you done decorating, the inhabitant will come back, to admire your hard work. When they don’t like it, they will let you know. We had the job of re-decorating a bathroom, but we’ve put a little bit too much in the small area. Result was that my Sim got an angry response, because it was to cramped. Yeah well, you need to give up a little bit in order to get a nicer bathroom.

At home, your Sim can do several things in order to develop it’s decorating skills. They can buy a drawingtable, where they can sketch new designs. And like every creative Sim, they use a simple stool instead of a chair behind that table. Chairs aren’t creative enough you know.

The interior decorator career gives your Sim the opportunity to spice up the houses of the Sims that live in the neighborhood, even when your own home is always a mess!

Detective

Your Sim could already become a police officer in the Sims 3, but the career of private investigator is just a little bit more interesting. You are basically the underdog in solving crimes, always prepared to do just a little bit extra than the other police officers. In Ambitions you get to don your classic detective outfit, which can also be found in the crime movies from the fifties.

The career of detective is a little bit weird compared to the other careers. It’s similar to that of ghostbuster when you look to the workplace; you have to look for new cases at home, after which you visit various locations to solve the crime.

The ones that have played, the Sims 3: World Adventures, should recognize many things in this career. Solving a case looks a lot like going on an adventure in World Adventures. You have to manage to do certain goals, like questioning Sims, look for items and report back to the client, in this case the person that asked you to solve the case.

Often it’s the case that you have to search a house to find certain clues, which can help you, get further in the case. To prevent you clicking on every item in the house, there are symbols (little magnifying glasses) on screen to let you know where to look. This means you could find new clues by going through the garbage.

Something that looked quite funny was when your Sim was on the lookout. He will try to hide himself to the best he can, by hiding behind two shrubs he’ll hold in his hand. This is off course more funny than effective, although it did work remarkably well. Even though Sims walk by you just like that, the game does advise to hide in a van or something, that is a little bit more obscure.

Medical career

Several sources have mentioned the possibility of becoming a doctor. Even in the game there was a tutorial on this career (which should be different from the medical profession that is already in de game). At the hospital we could only start the “regular” career and not a special medical occupation. It could be that this is an extension to the medical career, but we are not sure of that. More on this, hopefully later in our review.

The new neighbourhood

The game includes a new neighbourhood called ‘Twinbrook’. This neighbourhood is large and cosy, and its swampy landscape is a bit similar to the south-western USA, like New Orleans. Some nice decorations like an old and damaged rail bridge have been placed in the neighbourhood. We haven’t seen a train riding this bridge yet, though. The new community lots have already been placed in Twinbrook. This is not the case with the other neighbourhoods (Sunset Valley and Riverview), in which you have to find a location for the new lots yourself. Doing so is important because you need the community lots to be able to find the new jobs in the paper or computer. There are several new community lots, some of which have been linked to certain careers. These linked lots are for example the fire station and the dump. Other lots are the recycling centre and a tattoo shop/stylist boutique.

It is now possible to place both residential and community lots yourself and there are different sizes you can choose from. It’s a pity though that these lots don’t have to be located on a road, it’s possible to place them in the middle of nowhere. This means that there will be no road that leads to your house, and your house will be isolated. The house depot has been replenished with a number of new houses, mainly in the style of Twinbrook.

A new option is now available for rich Sims. It was already possible to become the owner of companies in the neighbourhood, but now you’re able to buy new buildings yourself and become full owner. For example, you can still buy the bistro to become owner, but now you can buy the whole city centre as well. It’s even possible to upgrade buildings. In the menu we could see that there will be an option to buy holiday villas, though we haven’t been able to test this ourselves because World Adventures hadn’t been installed.

CAS

Like every new expansion since the dawn of men, in the Sims series, there are always new things in Create-a-Sim and the build and buy mode. First off, the new things in CAS.

Of course there are new clothes and hair styles to be found in CAS in this expansion. The amount of new hair styles was a little bit disappointing, there were at most 6 for every sex. There are, however, many new hats and other headwear to dress your Sim up with, but these are mostly work related, and fill the screen because they are in all different colors and shapes. Also I can’t imagine that someone wants their Sim to have a firefighter’s helmet on their head as everyday wear.

The clothes showed several new full outfits, and no new tops or pants. And also the new full outfits were only work related. There is, for example, a new ‘dirty’ outfit with an apron for your inventor.

We have found some new traits that you can use to create a personality for your Sim. A list:

  • Dramatic
  • Eccentric
  • Born Salesperson
  • Perceptive
  • Eco-Friendly
  • Savvy Sculptor

Maybe there are some other new ones, but we couldn’t find those at the moment.

There are also some new favorites in the games, like roots and soul music (the new music categories in the game).

Another new feature is the tattoos option. You have plenty of options to place tattoos. You can choose a body part, like the art, and also choose where exactly it should come, like the under arm or the shoulder.

There are several designs to choose from, that range from traditional tribal tattoos, but also funny things, like the WooHoo heart. You also have the freedom on how you want to apply the tattoo. You can change the size, how transparent it is (if you want to see more skin) and you can even layer several designs on top of each other, to create a unique tattoo. In short, there are plenty of options to “paint” your Sim from top to bottom, if you would feel to do so…

Build and buy

In the build mode there is not a whole lot of new to discover. So no spectacular new building options. There was a new category in the wallpaper section; paintsets. We could not completely find the use of it, but we thought that it contained “sets” of wallpaper that fit well together. And it is not possible to place columns that stretch over multiple

In the buy mode, there are some new objects, like there are in every expansion, but also here it’s not too spectacular. Besides a car and a bicycle, your Sims can now also own a motor bike.

Your Sims can now also do their dirty clothes (not that your Sims’ clothes ever get real muddy or dirty or anything). So there are a lot of objects for that as well. You can buy washers and dryers (in several price ranges), but also a clothesline (put it outside, because wet clothes leave puddles). On top of that, you can buy several washing needs, like soap and fabric softener. And a laundry basket in every room is a necessity if you don’t want those dirty socks and boxers lying around your room.

You can also find new objects for the new careers in the buy mode. These objects include a drawing table for architects and stylist Sims (handy to draw new buildings and clothes) and a tool bench for inventors. And a lot of new decorative objects.

An interesting addition to the buy mode is the fireman’s pole. You can find these in the fire house, (nothing is as fast as sliding down), but the adventurous Sims among us can also put it in their own house to slide to several different floors. The only downside is that you have to climb up as well. Interestingly this object is to be found in the buy mode and not in the build mode. We would have thought it would be in the latter one, given that it is a sort of stairs. That’s why we had to look where it was. So a handy tip, that you don’t have to look for hours in the build mode.

For the photographers there is also a cool new addition: digital photo frames. You can place multiple photos in it, that rotate after a set amount of seconds. This saves you a lot of wall space, as you can place a lot of photos in one digital frame now. These digital frames come in various sizes, from small to a very big panorama sized one. And for entertainment you can buy a trampoline which can be placed in your backyard. And the fun thing is that you can jump with two people at a time on it, so fun for the entire family!

Other small facts

No expansion is complete without small additions that don’t really fit in one of the above categories. This is also the case in Ambitions. In this expansion are several small things that make the game feel just a little bit more complete.

One thing is the little message bubbles. They are now better organized. Messages now stay longer and don’t fill the entire right side of the screen. They are now in a sort of little menu where you can scroll to older messages as well. They are also sorted into a category. So spoken messages between Sims are under a different heading as job promotions.

The Twinbrook cemetery is also pretty cool. It has a nice fog hanging around it. You can create this fog also for yourself on your home lot, by buying an obect that you can get with a cheat. This gives an eerie tone to your home lot.
There are also a few new neighborhood objects. These are already placed in Twinbrook. There are several new bridges, among which some broken ones. And no road is complete without traffic lights. These are new as well.

The challenges screen is also different. You don’t see a small pop-up in the center of your screen anymore, but you can really see what you need to do for it. Based on that information you can always decide to do the challenge or not.

Conclusion

We can be long and short about Ambitions; in short, Ambitions is a fun expansion. In long, Ambitions is a fun expansion, with a ‘but’. As mentioned, the new careers are really fun to do and really add something to the game. For us as players it’s fun to re-decorate the homes of other Sims, or to put out fires. Also the new lots in the neighborhood are cool. The scrap yard really looks like one and the fire house looks like a fun place to work. The new neighborhood is really beautiful and fun to play in. In Twinbrook the atmosphere is good and it looks like a cozy neighborhood to live in.

But as mentioned, there is small ‘but’. Even though the careers are really fun to play, we managed to get several promotions after an hour worth playing. And for the careers we also found that, as fun as they are to play, we were wondering how long it would remain fun. Putting out fires is mostly the same and giving other Sims a makeover might get boring after a while as well. On the other side, maybe we couldn’t play with the game long enough to really dive deep into it. We were basically testing most of the stuff. So probably when you play for yourself, it’s more fun and remains interesting to a while.

So it turns out we can use the short conclusion: Ambitions is a fun expansion, period.

We would like to thanks EA Netherlands for a fun and informative day!