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Sunset Valley
Introduction

If you have read our concise review, you will already know our conclusion. Although it does not have everything, The Sims 3 is a worthy successor and it bears the mark of an excellent game, being that it has been very difficult for me to pull myself away from it and get down to writing this first part. In this series of editorials, we will be referring back, where necessary, to earlier versions to compare how things have been done to see how existing things have been improved or where things fall short. We intend to look in detail at what this new game has, giving people a feel and it, explaining what we feel makes it better from the previous versions of The Sims and also where it falls short.

Our first part of our in depth look at The Sims 3, we are not going to look at the sims themselves but are instead going to look at the first new seamless neighborhood that they live in.

From Sim Lane to Sunset Valley

When it all began those nine years ago, our sims originally could not go anywhere. The bimetric perspective in which the game was presented meant that we could not see beyond the edge of their lot anyway. On the left is how the neighborhood looked until the 5th expansion. There were only ten lots, some of them were occupied, some were empty houses and some lots were there for us to build in. There was one road out and we assumed from the narrative it was going to Simcity itself. In this illustration, some personalisation has taken place. Each of these families, whether Maxis-created or of our own design did not age. Some of them died through various means and new babies who turned into children were added to the families. Each house seemed to be in its own bubble.

After almost ten years, through various expansions for The Sims, The Sims 2 and all of its expansions, we now have Sunset Valley, a living and breathing community where that bubble has been burst. On the surface, everything seems very different but there are many things that are the same and in my opinion, have more in common with The Sims than The Sims 2.

The Town in Context

Assuming that the simworld follows the same pattern as our world, we will take it that the sun rises over the hills to the east and sets on the horizon behind the lighthouse in the bay, which means this town is on the west coast of somewhere or other. Sunset Valley comes with places where people can live, where people can work, where people can be entertained or educated, where people can relax and otherwise enjoy or improve themselves. Not confined by straight roads, sims do not need to go directly from one place to another. They are free to make any detour that they want. Also, sometimes off the beaten track, there are things that can be collected, planted, cut, smelted, sold or even donated. The level of richness in Sunset Valley is something that I find to be incredible as I hope you will find in this article.

Far to the east of the town from where this picture on the left is taken is a large transmitter mast. On the first ridge can be seen is the stone circle that is known as Simhenge which is up in the hills behind the town. With a bit of a walk, jog or run, the sims of today can still visit it. Down in the valley, is the town itself and that leads down to the sea. In the middle of the bay is the town's lighthouse, which we can see closer up in the picture on the right. Like the transmitter mast, it also cannot be reached but during the night, its light still shines like the red light on the transmitter still pulses.

This is a closer look at Simhenge. I did not even know that this place was here until recently as it does not show up on the town map. Unless it is recently man-made, it does mean that there has been human life in these parts for a very long time. Although there do not appear to be any wild animals in these parts anymore, there are plenty of opportunities for fishing, both freshwater and saltwater. On the south east of the town is a small lake known as Crystal Springs, which is a freshwater fishing hole. If authenticated as being done by ancient man, the curious paintings on the rockfaces leading through to here tell us a lot about what has happened here many millenia ago.

Out of town Workplaces

On the right is Stoney Falls, which is between Simhenge and Crystal Springs. Although it has no sign of neolithic graffiti, it is one of the landmarked fishing holes that can be reached by road. The city council have zoned some land up here for building. Currently, it is zoned for a residence but that could be changed depending upon demand on how it can be most beneficial for the town. Between Simhenge and Stoney Falls, however, is this abandoned mine. History does not tell when this mine opened or closed but this may have been one of the first workplaces in this area. Although the mine cannot be entered, there are fragments of rocks and gems that can still be found around the opening that will appeal to the collectors. There has even been rumour of fragments of plutonium and space rock being found around here.

With possible signs of alien activity and rare scientific discoveries all around the town, it is no wonder that in this century, both the scientific community and the military are interested in Sunset Valley.

This is the Landgraab Industries Science Facility. This is the major workplace of people in the scientific community. As well as applying through newspapers and computers, sims can just turn up here and will immediately find work. Anybody, however, can visit this facility for a tour of the science labs and can even take an intensive class in logic or gardening. If they have collected insects, they can donate them for scientific research. It is known that there have been some less-than-successful experiments being carried on here involving resurrecting the dead. There are also reports of an extremely rare form of fish in the pond behind the facility.

On the other side of town is Fort Gnome. This impressive looking base has a lot of areas that are off limits and cannot be reached. Several spaceflights have been launched from here and it is not unknown for people to have a lifelong wish to be an astronaut. Turning up and asking for a job, however, does not guarantee getting on the space program. As with the Landgraab Facility, anybody can visit this base for a tour. Also, Fort Gnome runs an intensive class in handiness, which is a very useful skill to have.

Written at 03:14 on Tuesday 23 June 2009 by Andy.

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