Here we are; the big one-zero. For the last four years, EA have been regularly churning out Sims 3 expansions like nobody’s business. We’ve had just about everything we’ve seen in previous iterations of the game, from ghosts and magic to university and weather, but now for something completely different- WATER! The sea is the name of the game this time around, with a variety of new content that, honestly, seemed to come straight out of the deep blue. With the Sims 4 recently announced this seems to be the second to last expansion, with rumours of a time-travel one coming later in the year.
So is Island Paradise taking the realistic vein of the Sims out with a bang, or is it just a bit of a damp squib? On offer here is a new profession in the same vein as those seen in ambitions, the ability to build floating houses, manage resorts, and go diving, alongside a variety of nautical goodies and a new life state, but first, the world. Isla Paradiso is a beautifully designed, atmospheric accomplishment.
With plenty of characters and secrets to be found, it really sets the expansion’s entire tone. There are a few islands and a variety of interesting properties and characters, using the expansion’s assets to full effect. The expansive ocean gives plenty of space for sailing around, and for parking up your new houseboat! Floating houses, for me at least, is the most interesting addition. Yes, it’s the same old building on a smaller area of land, but the sheer ability to move around adds a lot of flexibility. Parking in the middle of the ocean can be pretty fun, especially considering the other new features on offer, such as the diving spots and secret islands discussed later. Despite the relative isolation it’s still easy to hit the shore with water-taxi’s aplenty, so not much is really lost in the transfer from land-based living to sea-based living. It won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but having it as an option is very welcome.
If you don’t fancy the nomadic lifestyle, you could always build a stunning island resort over the water. Adding a whole other layer to the usual Sims 3 gameplay, I like the management aspects, as they’re something refreshingly different. No, they wouldn’t carry a game on their own, but in addition to everything else I can’t complain, with much tweaking of quality, prices, and staff needed before you can truly say you have a successful resort.
The new profession, Lifeguard, is a double-edged sword. Whilst it’s nice to have another job not tied down to a single rabbit hole, it’s very repetitive and often not as rewarding as one would hope. There’s only so much CPR you can do before you get disillusioned with the whole “lifesaving” business. The only real benefit is the hilarious Baywatch-style run which is learnt through it. The new skill, diving, is a massive disappointment. With only a small handful of diving locations available, all of which you need to work towards unlocking for use, the progression is painfully slow and the actual action available once you get into the water isn’t really that much of a reward.
Despite treasure chests and new fish, there’s a very limited pool of content which generally culminates in either exploring an underwater location; yet ANOTHER rabbit-hole with randomly chosen outcomes (see tombs, holes, time machines etc…), or meeting mermaids. The customary life state this time around, there isn’t really much to say about them. In the water they have tails; out of it they have scaled legs. Swapping the usual mood lets with a hydration based set; they’re pretty boring unless you like that kind of thing.
There are a couple of other, seemingly unrelated aspects which have crept in unannounced. There is now a way of accessing new worlds with previously played Sims. Before now, if you wanted to play the same Sims in a different world it was a case of copying them into a new save and losing all relationships and friendships. With the new Move > World function, a change of scene is a much easier prospect. Another addition is the ability to own multiple homes, tying into this new freedom. It’s nice to see EA making an effort to open things up for players rather than continuing their usual behavior.
So, if you have the base game, should you get Island Paradise? Apart from the relatively unstable state of the game; which is expected, as much badly-written and un-optimized code still hasn’t been fixed from the base game, the main issue is a lack of content, and it’s a shame. The majority of what IS there is pretty interesting stuff, but when the asking price is the same as a full-price title, yet again it’s hard to recommend it. EA have got lazy with these expansions, with each containing less than the last. The fact it’s purely nautical will put off a lot of people and frankly there just isn’t the depth required to pull off the theme.
Honestly though, if you love the Sims you’ll probably buy it anyway. After all, any new expansion is an excuse to just go right back into a Simming lifestyle. All in all, it’s a decent chunk of content, but I’d wait until the asking price is closer to the £10 mark.
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.