10.48pm at the Comic book store. Jamie, an aspiring science and medicine student has just finished reading her favourite comic book – The Inedible Bulk, and is chatting to her best friend and housemate Tiffany. Once they finish discussing their love of the series, Jamie inexplicably decides to strip off and run around, freaking out a variety of her peers and thoroughly confusing both myself and my girlfriend, watching my screen.
I’ve really been looking forward to this expansion above all others. Whilst Seasons made up for the lack of content plaguing recent expansions, I was potentially worried about the reincarnation of the University Experience that I loved so much in Sims 2, especially having lived through it myself now. So, apart from the obvious academia, what’s new?
The first thing you’ll notice is the University Welcome Kit, delivered by the enigmatic and obviously Jock “Mascot”. As weird as a gift from a man dressed as a Llama is, it’s an interesting (if repetitive) way to introduce University to your sims. This time around, rather than having a distinct “University Only” age-state, any Sim from Young Adult to Elder can enrol and potentially receive a scholarship dependant on their prior skills and career path. The aptitude test makes the choice to enrol much less daunting, as the potential for financial aid could seriously help your sim’s chances of making it through their course and offers a bigger incentive to build your skills from an early age.
The key aspect of University; studying, has a much bigger impact this time around. Mirroring true university life, The Sims 3: University Life will make you study, and study hard. If your Sim slacks and refuses to suck up to their lecturers then their grade will suffer, adding a lot of pressure into a game in which time is already a premium. Luckily, on the flip side there are plenty of new options that’ll ensure you party hard once all the work is done. With Keg Stands, a variety of new “juice” flavoured interactions (including the long-awaited “juiced” kiss) and the returning ability to streak, parties have never been so crazy.
Having these different paths to take allows a form of choice, and with the ability to cheat or bribe your way to the top of the class you can theoretically succeed no matter which way you progress, which can be seen as either a blessing or a curse dependant on perspective.
Outside of Uni are the new Social groups; Rebel, Nerd and Jock. Your Sim’s hobbies, friends and talents will earn them influence with many people, as will their actual degree, and by gaining influence various, rather substantial rewards can be unlocked. Whilst inside the confines of the Campus world these groups make sense, they seem to be rather arbitrary once you return to your main world. Whilst on the subject, I have a few complaints about the expansion’s integration with the main game. It’s worth nothing that unlike in reality, nothing changes at home whilst you are away studying. It’s as though time literally freezes, and as anyone who has studied away from home can confirm this is definitely not the case. Returning from Uni after a few months is a culture shock, as you often find that much has changed in a short time. Some sort of progression should continue whilst you are away. Also, what happens at uni stays at uni. In terms of socialisation, perhaps it isn’t a bad thing, but unfortunately very little transfers from campus back to reality aside from degree benefits and rewards.
There’s far too much in this expansion to really cover here, including the ability to protest, the return of PlantSims and room-mates and new traits which fit with the overall tone. What I will say in closing is that The Sims 3: University Life is one hell of an expansion which will add to your playtime immensely and make the later game and careers more worthwhile than they have been in the past. The existing expansions and such merge well with the new content and make the Sims package more enticing than ever, and the wealth of easter eggs inside the campus is immense. Like Uni, it has it’s good moments, it’s bad moments, it’s unexpected moments, but it’s one hell of a ride all the same.
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.