The Sims 3: Island Paradise review
Developer: The Sims Studio
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Reviewed on: PC
Meet Kari Noble. She’s an athletic, friendly, punky type who loves water so much she would probably marry it if there were any chance that at least one religion wouldn’t deem it a mortal sin.
She moved to Isla Paradiso on the basis that a tropical archipelago was probably going to be more fun and more interesting than either a standard sleepy town, a city infested with vampires, or France. She packed up her things, bought a houseboat, and decided to make a new life for herself here.
First things first, though – Kari’s going to need some finances coming in before she can, uh, “splash out”, as it were. What better job for a sporty, water-loving girl in a tropical archipelago than lifeguard, I ask you? There isn’t one, I answer, because this is text and you can’t actually respond before I finish writing this.
Lifeguarding’s one of those newfangled profession things added in Ambitions, which means that – rather than disappearing into a building for 8 hours – you actually, y’know, do the work. In this case, it means going to a beach during your scheduled hours and using the Survey option to make sure nobody drowns. If a Sim does start drowning, then you have to click on them and hit Rescue. For your amazing services, you’re given a weekly stipend plus a bonus for every Sim you rescue. Which you’d think would be a good way to encourage lifeguards to put people in constant danger of drowning, but oh well.
Of course, there are also Sims who will simply collapse on the beach and demand CPR, while occasionally looking around to see if anyone’s watching. I’m going to guess this is because they are horrific creepers who want mouth-to-mouth from an athletic, friendly, punky lifeguard, even though mouth-to-mouth is only a staple of CPR when someone has nearly drowned or otherwise needs oxygen. Falling over on a beach doesn’t count.
When she’s not getting surprise tongue from perverts, Kari likes to spend as much of her free time in the water as possible. She’s got a little speedboat of her own, and she can easily move her houseboat wherever she likes – either docking it at a pier, or leaving it out in the middle of the ocean to really confuse pizza delivery guys.
But her true love, it turns out, is scuba diving. It took awhile to make this available, as she first needed to do a fair bit of snorkelling in order to level up her diving ability (because that’s how scuba diving works), but after a week or so she was ready to explore the uncharted depths. Of which there are about five. And they’re quite small.
The scuba diving aspect isn’t nearly as fleshed out as I’d hoped. While you can explore the murky deeps and seek out sunken treasure, you’re mostly just noodling around some lot-sized areas, catching fish, picking up shells, clicking View on pretty things, and exploring the odd underwater cave. By which I mean clicking “explore” on a cave, and then being told what happens. At least, that’s what’s supposed to happen.
See, the first time I had Kari explore an underwater cave – as requested by the local science institute – she vanished from sight for a moment, then appeared on a beach a mile or so away, looking very confused.
This happened the second and third times I tried to have her explore the cave. On the fourth, she actually explored it properly! And then the next one I sent her into also teleported her to a beach. Either these underwater caves are run by Aperture Science, or Island Paradise is pretty buggy.
I’m putting my money on the latter, based around the fact that – until I swapped household and then swapped back to her – Kari had no wishes, lifetime or otherwise, after creating her. And later on, when I checked her relationship status, her speedboat was an acquaintance and her car was her best friend. So yeah, either bugs, or she’s insane. And did I mention this was a fresh install of the game with no mods? Hmm.
Eventually I turned Kari into a mermaid, which didn’t change much except that she needed to be in water like other Sims need food and she no longer had to depressurise after deep sea diving, but we’ll leave her story there.
Meet Bulldog Mahoney. He’s a chubby, balding, evil, workaholic miser who likes to eat cereal on the toilet, and is therefore uniquely suited for a career in business. I’d forgotten how amusing it is to play as an evil character, simply because – other than the obligatory Steal Candy From Babies options – almost every action is prefixed with malevolence. You take an evil shower. You have an evil slumber. You eat a fiendish bowl of cereal.
Anyway: Bulldog started off in the Business career, using his evil talents to quickly progress up the ranks to vice president, with one goal in mind: world domination. Wait, no. Beach resort management. His cunning plans went swimmingly, barring when he invited someone over to his house and they just ran to the middle of the lot without bothering to ring the doorbell, shouted that they had to go, and then I got a notification that the date went badly. Again: I’m guessing bug, but it might just be they realised he was basically the Sim version of Steve Ballmer.
Of course, he did also have the habit of going into work naked, because – for whatever reason – he didn’t appear to have an actual work uniform. He’d do his little clothes-changing spin and be completely nude, with no censor mosaic, and would then wander into work. So, uh… I hope that was a bug.
Once he had a bit of capital under his belt, it was time to move into the real estate game and the resort business. Bulldog snapped up a few cheap venues to get money rolling in – also letting him redesign said venues, if he wanted to – and then bought an ailing resort on the cheap.
This basically adds a little building management game to The Sims, which – although not too in depth – is still superior to cheap knockoffs like Restauranteer Management Empire 2012 or whatever. You set up a resort with all the standard building and buying tools (or blueprints for pre-made areas, if you’re lazy). Once it’s up and running you can upgrade the facilities, hire and fire workers, set the menus and food quality for the buffets, decide whether to have room service, etc. It’s not huge or massively in-depth, but it is a fairly nice touch and does offer an entirely new experience to The Sims 3 that kept me occupied for a good few hours. Sims who stay leave reviews in the guestbook, giving you ideas as to what problems need fixing, and getting a good amount of money rolling in is surprisingly tricky.
Look: you already know if you’re going to buy this or not. If you want mermaids, or resorts, or houseboats, or slightly rubbish diving, then you’ll probably enjoy this. If you don’t give a toss, then you won’t.
I’ll say this, though: for me, the real star of the show is the area itself. Isla Paradiso is a really gorgeous area that truly evokes a tropical environment – the buildings, plants, roads, and general layout just give the impression of a calm, laid-back holiday destination.
So yeah. This is an expansion pack that’s got more than a few hilarious bugs and, while I haven’t hit any showstoppers, it’s still not exactly a good state for release – even if they did amuse more than they annoyed. It’s got extra content, but nothing that’s as must-have as Late Night. It’s another expansion pack for The Sims 3. You either want it or you don’t. I’m happy enough for any excuse to drift back into The Sims 3, and this is certainly capable of keeping me occupied for a good few days, but I’m not convinced the marvellous setting and the resort management is worth the £25 to £30 asking price.