Celeste Dobropolski On May 7, 2013 at 4:10 pm

The Sims 3 University Life ScreenshotThe fun in Sims 3 has graduated with the new expansion pack Sims 3 University Life. Tired of working your way up from the bottom in your Sim’s career? Send them off to college, where they can earn degrees, career advancements, and more dough than other Sims.

Sims 3 University Life offers many additions to gameplay, most notably the inclusion of a Smart Phone, available to Sims even if they do not attend college. Smart phones introduce texting, blogs, and other new social interactions. Sims attend college in much the same way as they travel, as seen in World Adventures. Once Sims arrive at University, they have the option of living in a dorm with other NPC Sims, or they can rent houses near campus. Any Sims who are roommates but not part of the Sim household can be asked specific roommate commands or even dismissed. Sims can also decide to live in a fraternity or sorority house. Fraternity and sorority houses are host to many juice keggers and bonfire parties. Players of Sims 2 will recognize some familiar aspects of Sims 2 University, such as the ability to receive scholarships and live in dorms. Sims will also run into mascots and study sessions, but there are no Greek pledge tasks in Sims 3. College is also available to all age groups young adult and older. The benefits of attending college vary depending on which of the six majors are chosen. The six majors are Business, Technology, Science & Medicine, Communications, Fine Arts, and Physical Education.

The expansion also introduces new social groups which aid in characters unlocking the Super Careers of Art Appraiser, Sports Agent, or Video Game Developer. They are unlocked by Rebel, Jock, and Nerd social groups, respectively. Sims must communicate with other Sims from the social groups they want to join. After that, they can use various items and interactions to help gain higher levels within the group. They can monitor this success using their smart phone. Blogging is also a way for Sims to earn support, both emotionally and financially. Sims can earn experience toward the Social Networking skill with their smart phones, tracking life events, opinions, and even pictures of their lives. The Street Art skill can be unlocked with a “Banky Street Art Kit”. The Science skill is also useful for Sims pursuing Physical Education or Medicine degrees. Additionally, learning offers a more hands on approach for players, as not all of the classes are done in rabbit holes. For select classes, you can control whether your Sim nods off in class, pays attention, or even asks the professor lots of questions. You may even decide to have your character flirt with the professor after class.

While Sims are on living on campus, they won’t be able to return home until the end of the semester. However, there are still a lot of new venues. Hungry Sims can visit the coffee shop, diner, or late night grocery runs. Sims looking for something fun to do can choose from visiting the student union building, the comic shop, or bowling, as well as frat and sorority houses. Lots of new dorm furniture and study objects have been added, such as ping pong tables, juice kegs, mini fridges, murphy beds, and bonfires. Sims can also enjoy games of frisbee and kicky bag. In terms of character creation, Sims can now have three new traits. These include Avant Garde, Irresistible, and Socially Awkward. When dressing your Sims, you now have to option to choose from a broader wardrobe. Many of the new items include attire with University logos. The rest of the new additions reflect some of the largest clothing trends found in young adults today. New hairstyles reflect the laidback style of college students while also remaining fashion forward. A surprising addition in this game is the return of Plant Sims.

So what are the benefits of sending your Sim to college? Well, aside from the social experiences and visit to another town for a semester, Sims will enter the workforce in much more advanced positions with higher pay offerings and stronger social rankings. Degrees within the game are not specified as bachelors, masters, or PhD. Sims are able to go back to school and receive as many degrees as they like. Along with new activities and job opportunities, Sims also face new death encounters. Death by murphy bed is a new one, along with death by vending machine. Sims are able to join protest groups and use megaphones to rally other Sims behind important causes. If Sims decide to rant about death, they could possibly meet an early end.

Outside of the experience of visiting University, there is no way for Sims to achieve their degrees online. Since the game spends so much time focusing on the integration of technology and modern life with their University experience, I found this to be quite a disappointment. This ties the benefits of earning degrees with the lengthy and encompassing process of stopping time in your town to guide each Sim through life at University. I strongly wish the option to earn degrees online were available for a different play style. However, there are a lot of great additions in this expansion. I feel that this expansion, along with having plenty of attractive item additions, is much like Seasons in how it affects the game. (And yes, Seasons does work at University.) Even if you don’t like the University grind, you can still access social groups and smart phones. These are additions that change the entire game dynamic for the better, allowing for a more natural and deeper character development when playing your Sims.

Gameplay

While the additions to this expansion are immersive and fun, they are too rigidly attached to a static University setting. People who do not like traveling to University might not enjoy the rest of the features enough to warrant purchase, even though the other features like the smart phone and social groups are solid.

Graphics

Same as all the other Sims games, but I’ll give them some credit for the fashion forward clothing and hairstyles.

Sound

The addition of the Geek Rock station is a quirky and fun addition.

Overall

The expansion discounts the great things it has to offer by providing a limited format
for achieving degrees. The benefits to receiving scholarships and degrees can’t be overstated, but it does require multiple trips to University to perform similar tasks each time. The addition of social groups and smart phones is part of what makes the expansion have lasting value. This is a title that offers interesting ways to build upon the personality of your Sims.