Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Review: The Sims 3 University Life (PC)

That Steely Dan song proclaimed you could never go back to your old school, but the Sims have done just that in The Sims 3: University Life.

For the Sims 2, gamers could take their Sims to college. And now Sims 3 gamers can do the same, by sending off their Sims to school for a degree and experience college life, including the whole dorm experience, in a college campus addition to the Sims 3 realm.

Obviously the main focus is studying and earning one of six Sims degrees, but what would college life be without the social scene? University Life has that covered.

Toga parties? Yep, got that. Insane behavior like streaking? Yes, butt-naked student Sims are running rampant. How about keg parties and beer pong? Yep, that's here, too – well, not beer or alcohol per se, since the game doesn't endorse underage drinking, instead replacing the beer and alcohol with fruit juice in those kegs and cups. But partying hearty after some heavy studying is definitely encouraged in University Life, as is hanging with like-minded social cliques via the new smartphone that has friends and acquaintances just a phone call away.

Of course, it's not all play on campus. Besides studying, there are interactive activities that get Sims closer to that degree. Artists have a sketchbook to hone their creative skills while the scientific degree has would-be Einsteins tinkering with a cloning machine. And when the degree is complete, there's a graduation ceremony, complete with the cap, gown and diploma.

Although it isn't a factor in earning that degree, the social interactions between a gamers' Sim and others on-campus is what increases (or decreases) a Sims' social likeability with others. Nerds, jocks, rebellious youth – choose your social circle, or intertwine between them all. The campus has plenty of places to work on that social aspect of University Life, including a coffee shop and a comics store (where the nerdy gamers hang out, reading comics and playing videogames). Unfortunately, not every building on campus can be explored. Many are just entered by your Sims until they are done inside, without any gameplay options in those four walls of academia.

While the game encourages academic excellence for Sims undergrads, of course, there are choices to make – Study or party? Lab work or that protest rally in the center of campus? – that will decide if the pursuit of that degree proves as fruitful as the juice in those party kegs. Longtime Sims gamers won't mind heading back to school again with plenty of new educational experiences and places to socially explore with a revisiting of those school days gone by or experiencing it in tandem with current college life, depending on the age of the gamer.

– Lee Cieniawa

The Good:
- Focuses on both the academic pursuit of excellence and pursuit of partying important for young-adult social climbing

The Bad:
- Not all of the buildings on the beautiful college campus can actually be explored and interacted within those four walls of academia

Score: 8.5 / 10