"Oasis Landing bears resemblance to Star War’s Galactic City, Mass Effect’s Citadel, and even Republic City from The Legend of Korra rendered with a Futurama sensibility. "
Skepticism eclipsed my usual enthusiasm as details of the final Sims 3 expansion, Into The Future, leaked into the gaming sphere. The bias stemmed from a base need for a new rendition of the Sims 2 hit Open For Business. Island Paradise’s brilliantly executed hotel management system and Midnight Hollow’s retail elements only furthered dreams of untapped possibilities. Silencing wishes of filling Twinbrook with privately owned boutiques and corner bakeries felt almost painful.
The Sims team created the series more fantastical additions with an appreciable level of detail, but my favorite entries like Ambitions and Seasons enrich the everyday grind by strengthening gameplay at its core. Yes, the preference for realism seems absurd within a cartoon universe. However, it’s that shade of real-life beating beneath the surface that makes the exaggerations so charming. I enjoy watching Sims flood their ground floor attempting laundry far more than playing as a Twilight-inspired vampire with a pet dragon.
These opinions characterize me as a player rather than judge this last expansion. Maybe my lack of interest during the promotion was for the better, because my surprise intensified when I realized I loved this release. Into The Future uses the sub-neighborhood system introduced with World Adventures and extended for University Life; the future exists as a travel destination accessed from any base world. When functioning correctly, teleporting to the future is relatively seamless. Shortly after loading the game, a dialog notifies the player that a mysterious portal has opened within the world. It appeared on my front lawn, Emit Relevart the time traveler tumbling out headfirst into rose bushes. After collecting half a dozen fluorescent power cells to fuel the excursion, armed with the indispensable Almanac of Time, I was on my way. And the Back to the Future references extend further upon reaching Oasis Landing.
"The shiny chrome and catchy electro-Simlish tunes washed over me and I forgot why I was so upset in the first place."
Some players reported malfunctioning portals, causing crashes or Sims to literally get lost somewhere in space and time. Thankfully, I did not directly experience any teleportation glitches. Hopefully upcoming patches remedy any existing issues. The Official Sims 3 Store continues operation, which translates to at least a few more months of support for the game’s current generation. The Sims team responded to concerns regarding limited gameplay within past travel systems by allowing future visits to last indefinitely. World Adventures imposed a strict Visa limit coupled with a hefty travel fee, and players accessed University on a term by term basis. This time around, Sims can actually choose to permanently settle in the future. On paper, these changes sound minor, but they reiterate a needed focus on player control. Any change allowing me to direct gameplay according to my own preferences is a welcome one. Hopefully this perceived shift towards greater freedom, encouraging originality within a true open world, continues with Sims 4.
"The utopian future replaces lush greens with candy-hues and rainbow-filled skies, comparable to the aesthetic of Katy Perry’s Sweet Treats, and the NPCs display equally sugary dispositions."
Far from being fixed, the Future reflects a culmination of a Sim’s traits, skills, and actions. Actions in the present also impact the quality of life for a Sim’s future descendants. Travelling back and forth yields changes documented within the Almanac of Time. Certain actions trigger major future events and transform the landscape of Oasis Landing from utopian to dystopian. Players visiting the future from a newly created game will simply generate the “normal” future, my personal favorite among the variations. The expectedly dreary dystopian future reduces all colors to a uniform brown, occasionally illuminated by crashing balls of fire. The utopian future replaces lush greens with candy-hues and rainbow-filled skies, comparable to the aesthetic of Katy Perry’s Sweet Treats, and the NPCs display equally sugary dispositions. Changes to the Future landscape are largely aesthetic, and the underlying structure of the neighborhood remains nearly identical.
Attention to detail sets this expansion apart. Rather than re-skin old animations, Sims in the future follow their own fast-paced dynamic. Manual skills have decreased focus. Cooking, completed through quick synthesizing, is largely an automated process. Super-charged nano showers clean fully-clothed Sims instantaneously. Books, canvases, televisions, and even billboards employ sleek holographic visuals. Like Island Paradise, Into The Future introduces multiple forms of transportation: spherical hover cars dominate the roads and even the iconic cab gets upgraded, hover boards efficiently replace walking, jetpacks allow stylized and useful fast travel, and the ZEPHYR suspended monorail modernizes Late Night’s subway system.
Plumbots, the new supernatural life state, are considerably more humanistic than Ambitions’ Simbots. Simbots are also marked by a fixed appearance, whereas players can fully customize both the traits and visual appearance of their Plumbots. Personalities derive from a unique system of upgradeable trait chips. Create-a-Bot takes a page from Create-a-Pet in versatility without encountering the same glaring incompatibility. The release of pets into Sims 3’s open world prompted damage control in the form of an emergency patch to correct broken animation rigs. Luckily, no such issues surfaced with Plumbots. The Ambition’s style career, Bot Builder, based on mastering of the bot building skill, fully integrates the new lifestyle as a central feature of the pack. Moreso than any of the buzz words surrounding The Sims 4, the depth and sheer ingenuity of this pack displayed a true return to the spirit of The Sims. Into The Future shook my expectations and inspired new hope for the future of the series.
Review by: Ameenah Salamunic | Reviewed on: PC