It's amazing how the weather can (literally) put a dampener on the best laid plans, or transform a mediocre day into a truly memorable one. Up until this point, we Sims had it pretty sweet on the weather front: each and every morning we'd be guaranteed a pleasant, balmy day in which to live out our virtual lives.
Sure, we've had pets, pop stars, and even supernatural events to inject a little diversity, but we could always count on the weather to remain unchanged. Nek minnit, EA throws us a curveball by introducing something called 'seasons' to our idyllic little town. What is this cold, wet stuff falling from the sky? And why do I suddenly feel so shivery? Excuse me, while I go and change...
The Sims 3: Seasons is the eighth expansion for EA's phenomenally popular franchise. Those unfamiliar with The Sims - all three of you - may wish to check out our review of the original, which covers off everything you'll need to know about the game. This latest addition brings with it a mixed bag of weather, temperature extremes, and seasonal shenanigans, ultimately adding another dimension to the Sims experience.
At the outset, you are encouraged to login to The Sims 3 online community, with online-exclusive achievements and other virtual shinies to sweeten the pot. By logging in you can befriend other players and share gifts and memories with them. You can also create an online profile for your Sim, which enables other Sims to view him or her and register their romantic interest.
The whole idea’s a bit tacky, but it ties in with your own online presence, plus it’s yet another avenue to explore. The game world remains unchanged; however there is an option to buy a new map, which brings us to the thorny issue of user-pays DLC.
It's standard practice in The Sims 3 for some exclusive items to cost Sim Points. These must be purchased from the online store; a fact that is widely and actively promoted in the expansion. Having spent nearly $40 on Seasons, this seems a bit cheeky.
So what do you get for your money? For starters, you can tinker with the duration of each season (the default setting is seven days), or even disable them entirely... on the fly. Take winter, for example. If you've never been a fan of snow and frigid temperatures, you can simply banish it from your realm. Same goes for the weather... Pretty cool, huh?
There are new items of clothing in which to clad your Sim, including a range of outerwear. Dressing up my virtual dolly was never high on my list of priorities in previous Sims games, but choosing the right wardrobe in Seasons is essential to your Sim's wellbeing. Wearing clothing inappropriate for the conditions may see your Sim fall ill, suffer from sunburn or frostbite, get struck by lightning, or even expire. And we're not talking a graceful exit here; how about spontaneous combustion as a way to pop your clogs? It doesn't get much more spectacular than that.
The temperature doesn't remain static all day either, so you may need to undergo several wardrobe changes to keep your Sim comfortable outdoors (or just stay indoors a lot, like I did). It certainly pays to keep an eye on the weather forecast, so you can plan - and dress - accordingly.
You'll also find new skills, such as snowboarding and The Beautiful Game, more lifetime rewards, furniture, and other items, a couple of new traits, plus various celebrations and seasonal holidays to look forward to, with themed festivals running in the town's largest recreational areas. The latter are well worth visiting, since there are different activities to explore for each season. Have a go at apple bobbing, set off some fireworks, participate in an eating contest, or scare the pants off your Sim in the haunted house. Fans will undoubtedly welcome the reappearance of the aliens, too.
Visually, the change of seasons can be seen in the environment, with foliage looking more autumnal once summer has passed, and snow on the ground in winter. The weather effects are quite good, too; you really feel sorry for your Sim when he or she gets caught in a sudden downpour, or suffers the effects of too much sun exposure.
Bottom line: Seasons is to The Sims what MSG is to cooking (minus the possibly toxic side effects): it enhances the overall experience. Even if you've played it to death already, the simple application of weather and seasonal content guarantees plenty more mileage from the original game. A good stocking filler for the fans.