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The Sims 3 Ambitions Preview

On Friday May 21st, EA organised an event during which we got to play the newest upcoming expansion pack for The Sims 3 for about 2.5 hours. This pack dives into the realm of professions. If the classic careers aren't good enough for your Sims, then the professions will offer a new twist to the work-life of Sims. And if you're not into that, you can always go and do some laundry... Although our playing time was limited, we will try to give you as much as we saw and noticed as possible of this new game.

A few notes beforehand though: we got to play the Dutch version (as the event was in Amsterdam). Hence names, titles and so on may differ in the final game. We were also not allowed to take pictures, so you will not find anything new here. Finally, as we played a pre-release version, some things may change in the edition that ends up in the shops.

Careers, Professions... It's all work!

Every Sims player knows (or should know) about the careers. Check out the paper or computer for job openings, and the next day or so a carpool will pop up and drive you to work. Oh, if you own a car, you'll take that instead of the carpool. Time passes by, your Sim comes back home and life goes on. In between, the best thing you could get are some chance cards, or a choice as to how your Sim would behave at work, e.g. socialising or working extra hard to get that promotion. Never could we actually see our Sims at work. Who wants to see Sims at their desks in the office? Well, things are about to change. With Ambitions a new sort of careers are introduced, and to prevent confusion they will be called Professions.

Starting a profession is quite similar to starting any career. You find a work place and you'll see when you are expected to be at work in the career panel. In some cases, like inventor or sculptor, you can just buy the necessary equipment (e.g. a workbench) and start off, building a necessary skill. At the city hall you can sign up as self-employed and finally lose that "unemployed" title.

Fun for Workaholics

Even without a regular career, you can still get promotions. You have different goals in each profession. I mostly played inventor, in which the sole goal is making money (i.e. selling stuff you create). As a firefighter, you may have to put out some fires and as ghost hunter you have to catch some ghosts with your gun. As you work on these goals your work experience increases and as such you work towards your promotion.

From time to time you may also get opportunities across town. This may be haunted homes, fires or the science lab (for example) asking you to do some work for them. A little pop-up will tell you about the next step, if it's a more long-term challenge. The reward can be cold hard cash, skill experience and maybe friendship with the Sims you work for.

If you're self-employed, as the title suggests, you will just work from home inventing or creating things and working on your skills. For some other professions you have proper hours that you are expected to be on the job, at a location, where you may have to spend your time waiting for something to happen. You don't exactly have to waste your time though, as there is always something to do. Maintain the alarm bell or firetruck, maybe upgrade a little, work on your skills... How you spend your time is up to you. Instead of the usual rabbit holes (which will still be that), these new working places are full (community) lots where you can walk around and actually see your Sim at work.

Bang goes the Neighborhood

As I already mentioned, I mostly played in the inventor career. I imagine the sculptor and other self-employed professions work similarly. A new skill, tactfully called "Inventing," is introduced. You first have to buy a work bench and gather some resources (scrap metal, from the junkyard). Once this investment is made, it's time to start experimenting a little, mostly to get your first skill point. Once you're there, you can really start. Sign up as self-employed so possible customers, e.g. the science lab, know who they're going to call. Then just start creating things, or continue building your skills. You may electrocute yourself a few times. You may set yourself on fire. Just make sure you have a shower to get yourself clean again from time to time, and work whenever you like. Oh, and if you're too lazy to buy new scrap metal, you can just purchase some from the workbench. Or you can blow up stuff, but more about that in a minute.

As you try out new things while working with the scrap metal, you may discover new toys. Most will be decorational items, but there are a few major inventions. First there's a time machine, with which you can travel to the past or future. You can also get a drill, which you can use to find some valuable minerals or dig a tunnel. Eventually you can supposedly create a robot (which you can also buy for 40,000 lifetime points), which is much like Servo from the previous series of the Sims. I didn't get around to ivnent or buy one, unfortunately. Most of the time, however, you'll be creating decorational items that you can sell from your inventory for a little income. Naturally you can also sell the large inventions, though you may have to peek in your family inventory instead of your Sim's one to find the items.

One of the fun things as inventor is that you can, at some point, start blowing up stuff. You can blow up almost any piece of furniture that's big enough, including your toilet, shower, bed or anything else that may or may not be useful in your house. Depending on the object it will cost a few simoleons for the explosives. The reward: a nice explosion and scrap metal. I didn't check out any influence in your Sim's mood, though it will definitely be influenced if you stand a little too close to the blast. Oh, and of course the heat may set some nearby items on fire.

If you really want to have a blast - quite literally - it's time to head out into town with your explosives. Cars are nice and big, and give a big explosion. Especially your neighbor's cars will work well, since it saves you purchasing the car itself. I assume your neighbors will not have as much fun as you blast their cars to pieces, but to me - as a player - it definitely was a fun experience when a street full of homes no longer had any cars parked in front. Another way to get a large explosion is by placing several devices, e.g. fridges, close to each other and blowing up one of them. A nice chain reaction will follow, of course giving you some extra scrap metal.

Dirty clothes! Finally!

One new piece of gameplay that players have always screamed for, is laundry. Now when your Sim changes clothes (e.g. after a shower), a little pile of clothes will appear. You can just leave them there, or throw them in your washing machine. Finally the dryer or washing line will get you clean clothes again. From what I heard, if you don't purchase any of the necessary objects the clothes will also not appear, so you can safely ignore this new gameplay.

Another thing to get used to is that notifications are no longer stacked, sometimes causing you to feel spammed if a lot of events happen at the same time. Now the messages pop up one after another, allowing you to scroll back and forth between them. Three tabs distinguish between three categories of messages, so you can more easily find older pop-ups back and read them again. It takes a little while to get used to, but is definitely useful.

A couple of things I didn't check out because of the limited time are Create-A-Sim, the new (in-game) world editor, new rewards, traits, objects and so on. The new neighborhood, Twinbrook, looks nice (including a foggy swamp), but I didn't really check out all the details either. I also did not get enough time to try out all the new professions, although I did skim over the firefighter and ghost hunter professions quickly. All in all there is plenty of stuff left to discover for you when the game is released in about two weeks time.

Final Thoughts

Ambitions looks like a fun expansion pack with plenty of gameplay to discover in the various professions. They offer a welcome change in the work life of your Sims, although it will keep you, as player, more preoccupied with your Sims which may become tricky if multiple Sims in a family have a profession instead of a regular career. Unlike World Adventures, which is generally quite time consuming to play, this pack hooks straight into your Sims' everyday lives. Unfortunately the Open for Business style gameplay would fit with Ambitions quite well, but there is no way I found to open up a shop and sell your creations; i.e. you're not starting your own businesses, but really just making a change of career. Perhaps we'll see something like that in a later expansion though. The game also contained some bugs, most notably one where the game didn't load after activating an existing (pre-made) family. As the version we played was not final, I assume that the final (released) version will not contain such major defects.

Ambitions is released worldwide in the week of May 31st. For the UK this means you can get it June 4th; in the US the game is released June 1st, and many other countries will get the game either on Thursday (June 3rd) or Friday (June 4th). The Sims Zone will provide you with a full review after the release.

Special thanks go out to Anita (EA Netherlands) and the other attending fansites (especially SimsNetwork) for making it a fun event! Check out the list below for previews by other attendees (this will be updated over the weekend as we are informed of new previews):

Written at 01:12 on Sunday 23 May 2010 by ChEeTaH.

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