The Sims 3 Sucks

Illustration for article titled The Sims 3 Sucks
Screenshot: The Sims 3 (EA/Maxis)

One of the favorite pastimes of The Sims’ community is to talk about how good the older games are. While there are things about The Sims 4 that I don’t love, I’m not as nostalgic as other fans. Every time I think about The Sims 3, for instance, all I can remember is how much that game kinda sucked.


I got The Sims 3 the summer before my sophomore year of college and played it obsessively. I played it at my boring summer job, and then later in my boring classes. I made Sims of my roommates and friends, I downloaded hundreds of mods, and I continued to play it through the the release of its final expansion in 2013. I am exhaustingly familiar with that game, and all the ways it is bad.

Let’s start with an easy and obvious problem. The Sims 3 is optimized like shit. The loading times for this game are so bad that eventually the developers added a spot-the-item style game to them. I remember sometimes spending 20 minutes waiting for my game to load. Even on the very modern gaming PC in the office, the initial loading screen took a full minute. Saving my game was also a crapshoot. Sometimes, after waiting for half an hour, the game would crash while I was saving it. Then while I played, the game would hitch and jerk any time I sent my Sims out into the open world.

You will be looking at this screen for a long time while that open world loads in.
You will be looking at this screen for a long time while that open world loads in.
Screenshot: The Sims 3 (EA/Maxis)

There’s a loading screen when you go into Build or Buy mode, and because these are each separate game modes, you’re going to do a lot of waiting if you want to build a house. When you go to a location in town, you have to wait for all the textures to pop in. Worst of all is that it takes a full minute of waiting, even at the highest game speed, for your Sim to get a full night’s rest. You just kind of sit there, watching. It’s creepy and not fun to do. When your Sim is awake, if you want to send them to a restaurant or a movie, instead of a loading screen, you’ll have to wait while they disappeared into a rabbit hole for an indeterminate amount of time. What an engaging, living world!

The Sims 3 seems built on the philosophy that more is more. Unfortunately, if you played the game for half a decade like I did, you come to realize that for all the options they give you, most of them are bupkis.Take the custom patterns they offer you. I mean, who exactly is this nightmare Halloween pattern for?

Illustration for article titled The Sims 3 Sucks
Screenshot: The Sims 3 (EA/Maxis)

The Sims 3 is constantly getting in the way of itself. In the effort to make sure that the player uses each and every disparate system it has, it stops you from having the organic moments that make The Sims so much fun. My Sim was a cat lover, and when I sent her out to the park on her day off from work she finally met a stray cat. As I was trying to befriend it, her phone went off, and my game was interrupted with a notification telling me that my coworker wanted me to cook her some hot dogs.

There are plenty of little things that get under my skin about every Sims game, but when I think about the experience of playing The Sims 3, I can feel flames on the side of my face. The Sims 3 sucks shit, and if you say that you actually like this bloated game, you’re a liar.


So to sum up, you don’t like the Sims 3 because of:

1) Bad Optimization
2) Too Much Content / Too Many Options
3) Not Enough “Organic” Moments / Emergent Gameplay

Is that correct?

The first complaint is absolutely true. Sims 3 was very badly optimized.

But so is Sims 4, on top of being an even bigger resource hog due to more demanding graphics. In fact, it’s so bad in Sims 4 that they had to break up the game into different chunks, to alleviate the issue. There’s no more seamless (if sometimes laggy) open world to move around in. Features have been sacrificed.

Now you must constantly jump to different menus inbetwen different parts of the game, which is just a clever way to disguise loading times. It’s all smoke and mirrors to make you think you’re not spending as long loading as you really are.

In fact, if you have a beefy enough computer, this actually makes you spend MORE time waiting around then you ever would loading. Loading times can be reduced by running the game on a very fast computer, but clicking through menus with preset animation lengths never gets any faster.

And if you’re on the other end of the spectrum, and have an underpowered system, then odds are good that Sims 4 won’t even run on it, making Sims 3 the superior option by default, since you can actually still play it.

Your second complaint is flimsy. Too much content is a bad thing? Nonsense.

It’s always better to have options and not need/want to use them, than to need/want options that you don’t have. Just because you don’t like a given feature useful doesn’t mean other people won’t love it.

What’s more, it’s entirely up to you which features show up in gameplay. You don’t have to buy and install every single content pack available for the game. You can selectively install only what you actually like and want.

But maybe you want just a couple items from a larger content pack, and all the rest you don’t care about? Good news! The game is trivially easy to mod! You can buy the entire pack, and then filter out all the parts of it you don’t care about, and just install the bits you really want.

The Sims 4, meanwhile, has the problem of far, far too little content. People quite rightly expect certain baseline features - if things like pools were standard issue in the very first Sims game ever made, it’s kind of asinine to not make them standard in the modern recent installment.

Third, you don’t like the popups and “guided” play elements?

Talk about a non-issue. You can ignore them with no effort, and you can outright disable them with only miminal effort.