The Sims 3: Pets Review - November 2nd 2011

For the, shall we say, more pedicure-loving, Twilight-watching demographic The Sims franchise most appeals to, Pets is the easiest of sells. "You there, girl or girly man. Do you like pink-washing your virtual house and braiding your family? Step this way for something cute and fluffy!" That's not to say The Sims isn't rife with opportunity for hardened male gamers who can get their violent kicks slapping a love rival, or captains of industry curiously free during the day for a few hours of networking in Simlish. But the latest The Sims 3 expansion targets its audience's affections like a stinger missile - a missile packed with purring cats, galloping horses and dogs that can do tricks.

Previous expansions like World Adventures or Medieval focussed on action and exploration, traits the comfortably domesticated series both hasn't been known for and doesn't do well. No, The Sims is best when it's boring; frantically emptying your bladder before the car pool, deploying a charisma offensive to pull potential wife no. 3 at a bar - The Sims orders excitement from the mundane. And Sims 3: Pets pleasingly packs in more slices of suburbia - only with more squawking and claws.

This makes perfect sense.

So, it's back to the character creation screen for a tinker and a toggle, only this time it isn't people you're making, but animals. From loyal hounds to majestic horses, and even rambunctious kittens that love a good scratch of the sofa, what the game lacks in variety (hope you like dogs, cats, and horses), it makes up for in breed. Sheppards (both the German and Australian variety), Terriers, Dalmatians and Dachshunds, along with dozens of others - Nintendogs could learn a thing or two. And it's the same for cats, be them wild or tabby, and horses. Special mounts like the zebra and glittery unicorn will delight young Britney, even if they won't muster favour with the Battlefield 3-hardened lot.

In a rare handing over of the reigns from the normally keep-it-in-the-family series, you can switch control from person to pet at any time. In going from two legs and a dry nose to four and a wet one, there are new distractions in town, no humans allowed. Activities include cutting claws on your owner's upholstery, accompanying your master to sleep, prowling through back alleys looking for a scrap, digging for treasure, playing fetch, and even show jumping with a rider on your back (that one's horse-only, obviously).

Avoid phantom dust clouds at all costs.

Like your Sims before them, pets are avatars rather than add-ons. You create them, choose attributes like loyalty or fierceness, form relationships with other animals, and eventually die, bones buried in the back garden, naturally. For this, the expansion feels more personable and more crucial than those before it. It's not a world you don't know; it's the world you love from a new, furry perspective. However, those who've moved out of Sim Town won't be enticed back by what amounts to three new playable characters, fresh animations and activities, and a handful of animal NPC's.

Ben Griffin



It is the game you know, with a few more animal based attractions.


A gorgeous soundtrack, with additional meows and barks.


Sims 3 is showing is age, but helpfully you dont need a big rig to run it.


You could play this forever, but with only three animals, you probably wont.


Final Score:

For those of you still in the neighbourhood, Sims 3: Pets is the next best thing to owning an animal. Apart from a shark. Maybe in the expansion?


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