I was not terribly impressed with The Sims 3 for iPhone, but as I said in my review, it did whet my appetite for the Mac desktop version of the game. So much so that I went out yesterday afternoon to pick it up. Best Buy […]


I was not terribly impressed with The Sims 3 for iPhone, but as I said in my review, it did whet my appetite for the Mac desktop version of the game. So much so that I went out yesterday afternoon to pick it up. Best Buy was all out of the collector’s edition, but I wasn’t committed to the idea of carrying around a Plumbob USB drive anyway, so I picked up the regular copy for $49.95 and got to playing god.

And play it I did. I played for nine straight hours yesterday, and another few today, eating in a hurried frenzy only when my Sim was sleeping. All for you…a truly selfless act. Here’s what I found as a result of my living-by-proxy marathon.


The Sims 3 definitely looks better than its predecessors. Objects and sims are more detailed, textures are smoother, and animations are better looking. The real difference with regards to graphics, however, doesn’t have to do with any landmark improvements in the basics (there aren’t any astounding changes), but rather with the way the world as a whole is set up.


Nice, interactive vistas

The Sims experience has always been primarily compartmentalized, with your house being one location, and social settings and the houses of others being entirely different, closed-off modules. In The Sims 3, the walls between modules are largely taken down. If you zoom out, and pan, you can see and interact with your neighbors’ houses, parks, and community buildings, and even the ocean.

Clicking on objects that you can see results in actions being made available, without ever having to exit out to a town map. The town map is still available, though, in case you want more simple navigation across greater distances.

Visually, the open world makes The Sims 3 look and feel much more like the life simulator it’s meant to be, and it’s one of the biggest reasons to upgrade from The Sims 2, in my opinion.

My test machine was an iMac with 4GBs of RAM running an ATI Radeon 2600HD graphics card. The game should run fine any any computer using the new NVIDIA cards, too.


Simish is back in full force, and it sounds just as silly as ever. They seem to say “zune” a lot more frequently than most other words, so either that’s the sim version of “the” or Microsoft’s done some very keen product placement.

Sweatin' to the oldies

Sweatin' to the oldies

Music is well done again in The Sims 3, with a decent variety of tracks available for your stereo systems, and some genuinely pleasant sounds coming from your sim’s guitar if you build up their Music ability.

Other ambient sounds are all fine, although it does seem at times like the game is far too quiet considering everything that’s going on. I suppose finding a nice balance between too noisy and too quietly for a life simulator like this would be quite the challenge, and it’s the type of game that you like to have something else on while playing anyway.


Let’s take a look at a few different aspects of gameplay within the new Sims.


As in real life, I generally prefer to keep my options open and succeed as a Sims freelancer by selling paintings, working as a writer, and, new in Sims 3, selling the fish that I catch. The last one is not one that I actually do in real life, in case you were wondering. No good fishing spots in Toronto, is the problem.

For the sake of this review, I decided to pursue a career in rock stardom to see what sticking to the more conventional professional pursuits available in the game was like.

As in previous games, in order to earn promotions in your chosen field, you have to build up your skills and keep your mood elevated. Depending on what you do, you also might have to strive to get along well with your co-workers, and in The Sims 3, you actually know which fellow sim is your boss, and you can butter them up.

I found career building not quite as challenging as in previous versions, which is good because other aspects of the game are now much more rich and deserving of attention. Also, I tend to forget that your sims now have a limited lifespan (since Sims 2), so the pacing is actually entirely appropriate. Currently, I’m a pop star, but I’m approaching retirement age, so I’m not sure I’ll reach the top of my career ladder.

This is where I rock sold out crowds

This is where I rock sold out crowds

Work is much more interesting than in past games because you can influence your performance by changing how you are working. A context menu attached to the task in the upper right-hand corner of the screen lets you choose between a variety of different ways of working, including working hard and slacking off, which affect your mood and job performance. This is a huge improvement over the hours of doing nothing in previous versions.


There’s so much for your sims to do in their spare time in this game that it hardly feels like they have any. As mentioned above, you can go fishing, and check out various other activities in town. You can also grow your own food by gardening, and paint as in prior installments.

Frankly, I didn’t find time to do much in town, though the options are numerous. In-town activities also include random events like sales, concerts (both performing and attending), and chess competitions. I actually ended up trying to find mood modifying cheats so that I could enjoy them all, but no such luck.

Life in General

Overall, the experience is just far more rich and detailed than in previous versions. They’ve taken out some things that were annoying, and added some that are much more fun, so it doesn’t feel too cluttered. That said, I think trying to further detail day-to-day affairs would really hamper my enjoyment of the franchise. As it is, it feels like too much to do, too little time, which is exactly the opposite of the iPhone version.

Me playing a computer game in the computer game I'm playing

Me playing a computer game in the computer game I'm playing


If you like the previous Sims games, you definitely won’t be disappointed with Sims 3. Some things have been taken out, but better things have been added, resulting in a much more enjoyable experience overall. This is a must-have for Mac gamers.

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  1. You can turn off aging in the preferences.

    1. I just bought the Sims 3 today, and something is going wrong. My people don’t have skin, they look like shadows. I had this same problem when I tried to play Spore, my creatures didn’t show up on the screen. Does anyone know what this is about or how to fix this problem?

    2. Katu, I have the same problem on my MacBook (and the sky is yellow). From what I’ve gathered, it is because the graphics card is out of date.

      Anyone have a differed answer to this problem???

    3. I was having a similar problem with The Sims 3. It was running super slow, game time was equaling about 1 game minute every real 15 to 20 seconds, even on triple speed. So I looked into it and found out that my os was OS X 10.5.6 and the minimum for the game was 10.5.7. Well I updated it and now it runs beautifully. If that is not the problem then I would guess that it is you graphics card or something similar.

      1. PHFATTS… How did you find out what your os was?? what did you do??

    4. My sims are appearing as shadows too! And i dont want to update the graphic card because i cant buy an update and i dont want to go onto a website that might harm my computer…

  2. Darrell Etherington Thursday, June 4, 2009


    Thanks! I just noticed that. Hooray for eternal life!

  3. Any chance you will test it in other Macs? Some of the forums have ongoing posts regarding the requirements and performance on various machines.

  4. My wife has been having a horrible time with this on a 2-week old unibody Macbook. The game crashes randomly to desktop with no error or warning. When it runs, it looks great. It just goes boom. :(

    1. i have the same problem. but mine is weirder. i’m not even on mac. i have microsoft windows xp on my computer. But after 15 of gameplay – including the start up video and loading screen – the game will just close and go back to my desktop. i have tried uninstalling and reinstalling sims 3, but no avail. it is just weird. but this keeps happening, like there is something wrong with the game to keep closing uexpectedly on me. grrr, it makes me so cranky. i havn’t played sims in ages, because i know i will just loose all my progress unless i save every 2 minutes. but even then, i have to start up the game again every 15 minutes.

      1. sims 2 is the best NEVER crashes i do want to expirience sims 3 but i did get the game but it said something about trying to validate it and calling customer support but my dad wont call them I DONT KNOW THEIR PHONE NUMBER im just a teen

    2. I’m having the same problem. The screen will just close down during gameplay, and if I don’t save my progress every two minutes I lose everything. I have Windows XP as well. Because of this I haven’t played my game in months!

    3. I have the same thing happen to me. I have a macbook also. It is new (I bought it a month ago) the sims worked for 3.5 weeks then it decides to be difficult. Crashing without warning, glitches and distorted graphics, I am puzzled because I am completely up to requirements etc and I can’t seem to get it working properly. I think that it could have something to do with the items downloaded from the exchange area on the sims 3 website. They are full of viruses and advertising (for external object/clothing/hair download sites).

  5. What to read on the GigaOM network Thursday, June 4, 2009

    [...] the success of the Palm Pre (jkOnTheRun) Poll: Would you pay for Hulu? If so, how much? (NewTeeVee) Review: The Sims 3 for Mac (TheAppleBlog) Sony Ericsson launches green phones — will consumers care? (Earth2Tech) [...]

  6. I’m scared to experience the same thing as Joe … I have a unibody MacBook purchased in Jan 2009 and I’m hoping the game is playable but have heard stories about the random crashes. I’d like to hear more about your exact machine and experiences Joe … any way to touch base? Do you have a website?

  7. Technical blogs with pictures and videos » What to read on the GigaOM network Thursday, June 4, 2009

    [...] the success of the Palm Pre (jkOnTheRun) Poll: Would you pay for Hulu? If so, how much? (NewTeeVee) Review: The Sims 3 for Mac (TheAppleBlog) Sony Ericsson launches green phones — will consumers care? (Earth2Tech) [...]

  8. yeah i’m getting the same deal as joe too, i got it yesterday, and ive been playing it on my i think 2 or 3 month old unibody MacBook and it just randomly crashes, with no errors or warnings or anything.

    Oh and i tried to download something off the exchange, and it said my version wasnt up to date, but i have the right OS and i checked and i have the latest updates for the sims 3.

    Its awesome when its working, but i just randomly loose everything, and its really annoying.

  9. AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH I cant wait to get it it omes out here today !!! im not very well 2daii andd my mum has gone into exeter so im not sure ifshe will getr itt for me por not i hope sooo (yn)

  10. Web Worker Epiphany: I Treat My Career Like a Sim Would Friday, June 5, 2009

    [...] I had professional cause to engage with The Sims 3. And it was with strictly professional interests in mind that I devoted [...]

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