Ever since The Sims 3 came out earlier this year, I have been hooked. The series has always been an addictive time-suck, but the additions and improvements made to the latest life simulator have kept me occupied far more than I would like to admit. Even if I put the game away for a few weeks or a month or two, I kept finding myself coming back, my head full of new ideas and unexplored possibilities—an awesome beach house that needed to be built, a young married couple that was one half evil child-hater and the other good, family oriented new parent; and the poor young woman who eventually raised a family and became extremely wealthy from her ever-growing garden. Yes, there were plenty of things to do in The Sims 3, but eventually, I did start to feel like I had done almost everything. Luckily, The Sims 3: World Adventures provided me with not only some new furnishings for my home and new outfits for my Sims, but gameplay different from any other Sims expansion before it.
The basic premise of The Sims 3: World Adventures is comparable to the Vacation expansion for the first Sims, and Bon Voyage for The Sims 2. Instead of traveling to generic locations, though, your Sims can travel from their hometowns to France, China, and Egypt. Before you even leave, there are visible additions to the game. World Adventures adds some new hairstyles and make-up options, as well as a few region-specific outfits. Extra furnishings and home design options round out the package, but the biggest change is the new basement tool. In the past, if you were willing to take the time and lower the terrain, you could attempt to build a basement, but since the game didn’t recognize it as an underground level of the home, it was difficult to make it work. Now it’s simple to build up to four basements under any home, provided you have the patience and the simoleans.
You may also want to create some new Sims to take advantage of the added traits and life goals. With the addition of photography, nectar, and martial arts, Sims have new ways to make money or enjoy their free time. Cameras can be purchased on vacation, and taking photos will increase your photography skill over time; this is also a good way to make money, though it will cost a bit to get started. Nectar is the Sims’ wine, and drinking it, understandably, makes them happy; it can be purchased or found in France, and Sims can also learn the nectar-making skill. The martial arts can be studied in China, and advancing that skill will earn your character different-colored belts (with new outfits to accompany the accomplishments). The skills come with traits, moodlets, and life goals, meaning that you can make a Sim pre-determined to become a successful photographer, or it could just be a side hobby.
With a simple phone call or a few clicks on the computer, your Sims can take a trip to one of the aforementioned countries. Traveling is costly, and the length of your trip will depend on your Visa level; basically, the more you explore a region, the higher your Visa level in that particular place will be, earning you more privileges in the area, like longer stays. Eventually, you can even own a vacation house in a foreign land; in the meantime, you’ll stay at base camp, which can be as simple as a campground, or a larger building with lots of bedrooms, bathrooms, and a fully-furnished kitchen. I did notice long load times when going to or from other countries, though the game ran fine on my computer otherwise. Each country will have goods for sale that you can’t buy anywhere else, like regional home furnishings and food. You can also purchase survival items, like a tent, dried food, or showers in a can, in each country’s general store. These come in handy when exploring tombs and hidden areas, which are what set World Adventures apart from the previous Sims vacation-themed expansions.
Near each base camp in World Adventures is a message board from which your Sims can accept various assignments. These can be as simple as bringing a foreign goods merchant some nice apples, but more often, they will require exploring the tombs, pyramids, and underground mazes that can be found around the world. This is where World Adventures gets a little different, throwing in some light adventure and puzzle gaming elements in order to fully explore these hidden areas. Secret entrances, dangerous traps, and long-forgotten treasure are all part of the package, but exploration can come at a price. Sims will need to come prepared, and should obtain the aforementioned survival goods, because sometimes you will have to stay underground for a day or two. Making your way through tombs is never too challenging, and disarming traps is fairly simple, but the appearance of an occasional mummy can throw a wrench into your plans. Mummies can be avoided, and since they move slowly, it’s easy to run from them, but coming into contact with the bandaged creatures can be dangerous, or even deadly. Most of the time, you will simply pass out on the floor, but you may also be stricken with the mummy’s curse. This will require you to complete a series of objectives within two weeks of Sim time to remove the curse; otherwise, your Sim will die.
The vacations are great, add a lot of variety to the gameplay, and give your Sims access to items they couldn’t get otherwise, but trying to take a trip with more than one Sim can be problematic. Because of the limited length of each stay in a foreign land, trying to switch between multiple Sims can mean that none of them have enough time to truly accomplish anything. I found it best to allow Sims to go away one at a time; that way, I could focus on exploration and learning new skills, and when I returned home, no time had passed for my other housemates. This problem is made slightly better when your Sim’s Visa level is high enough to stay somewhere for more than a week, but it’s still kind of a pain to attempt to control two Sims in another country unless you have them stick together the entire time, at which point you could just save your simoleans and have one of them stay home.
The Sims 3: World Adventures is a great first expansion for The Sims 3, and hopefully the start of more interesting content to be added to the game. Just when you think you’ve seen it all, World Adventures adds an almost overwhelming amount of new content, which justifies the $40 price tag, though that still seems a tad high for an expansion pack. However, there is more than enough in the package to keep you occupied for weeks, or possibly even until the next expansion comes out.