When PC snobs bemoan the fact their favourite games are turning to the dark side and appearing on childish consoles, the imagination and tenacity of a skilled developer is usually enough to silence their petty griping. But in the case of The Sims 3: Pets, this latest spin-off from the 150m-selling life simulator should never have made the audacious leap to your living room.
The main problem is continuity. While the Pets expansion pack was fun on the PC as it added furry friends to a world you’d already helped to shape, on consoles the package is a standalone affair, forcing experienced players to wind back time and start again from scratch. And while it’s fun to create cats and dogs and give them traits that are at odds with their owners’ personalities – and there’s little doubt that animal-lovers will adore how the simple tools allow you to create cutest critters ever seen on a console – the pets aren’t as complex or engaging as regular Sims, meaning that most players will ignore the furballs altogether and focus their energies on the traditional tormenting of little computer people.
The plot-driven Mysteries you can explore in Pets add a strong sense of pace and direction to the experience that will please console nuts accustomed to story-driven adventures, while the Karma powers still add extra interest to the familiar game, especially if you choose to transform one of your pets into a human companion for your Sim. But with frustrating loading times, occasionally jerky animation and action that chugs to a standstill when the screen is busy, Pets is a Sim too far for the console market and a package that should have never migrated from PCs as it doesn’t have enough solo appeal to stand on its own four feet.
Reviewed by David McComb