As well as the 25 occupied homes in Sunset Valley, there are 16 empty houses of varying architectural style and cost scattered all around the town. As well as these, there are 21 empty residential lots of varying size that are awaiting development.
Pinochle Point is an empty lane leading off from Sierra Tango Street heading up towards the Pinochle Pond fishing hole. There are seven empty residentially zoned lots here.
To help fill these gaps, there are already six families waiting in what is now called the Library - formerly called the Sim Bin - who can be moved into the town as well as 15 unoccupied houses of varying shapes, sizes and styles that also waiting there to be placed.
However, you cannot develop anywhere you choose and this is where tweaking around with the neighbourhood reminds me more of the game that started it all than its first successor.
I have always been keen on making new neighbourhoods or tweaking around the existing ones, adding new decor and pretty much putting my own mark on things.
In The Sims, you were limited with where you wanted to place a lot. If you built a lot on No.10 Sim Lane, you could not then place it on a larger lot anywhere else. It was for that lot and that lot only.
In The Sims 2, if there was room for it, you could pretty much place a lot - occupied or empty - anywhere you felt like it. Personally, I preferred this and this really enhanced my enjoyment of The Sims 2.
In The Sims 3, it is as if we have taken a big step backwards. We are told where lots are. If the Goths got fed up with looking at a cemetery, the only place that they can easily move to is No.15 Summer Hill Court between the Altos and the Landgraabs. It is not as if we can find an area of land across from Agnes Crumplebottom on the other side of town. There is not a lot there that is big enough.
Admittedly, we do get the chance to rotate the lot around but if you are placing a lot that is smaller than the lot space that you are moving it to, it is centred rather than having an option of placing it up against the edge. This is disappointing if you have driveways and so forth as they will look out of place.
I agree that it is better than The Sims 1 for this but I would rather have the freedom of The Sims 2 for where I want to place a lot.
In this instance, I have assumed Vita Alto has fiddled things at City Hall to relocate the park into the hills and fill the Town Centre with the Llama Memorial Stadium.
I am disappointed with the limited options available for moving things around in the town but as I really like the town as it is, it is not one of my pressing complaints as I am not really in the mood to make radical changes like this.
I must remember NOT to save this game.
If you would rather play through the evolution of Sunset Valley from the point of view of one of the existing families than create a new one, it is hard work indeed knowing which ones to pick. In looking at every one of the existing families that are in play, I feel really spoilt for choice on how to get the most out of Sunset Valley.
Do I follow the Goth family and see about developing the puppy-love relationship of Mortimer and Bella Bachelor?
Do I see whether Malcolm Landgraab follows his mother's footsteps or if he finds a different path?
Do I help Kaylnn Langerak avoid a future of dressing as a French maid by finding her a more lucrative career for her?
Do I help out the Altos with their plans for civic, criminal and ultimately world domination?
Although I have a few complaints with how changing Active Families affects things and thereby making me less inclined to switch from one family to another during gameplay, I am impressed with how the town of Sunset Valley, its infrastructure and the families have been created and developed.
However, not everyone wants to play with existing families, whether they are in play or are in the library waiting to be placed. Now we have given you this detailed two-part look at what is already there in Sunset Valley and a look at how things can be changed with how the town looks, we are going to look at how we add our own families to this suburban paradise.
Next time, we are looking at creating a sim. Honest.
Written at 03:14 on Tuesday 23 June 2009 by