After a week of playing the new “The Sims 3” add-on, I can safely say that I like it very much.
The first two parts of the game also featured an add-on for travelling, but those were boring compared to the new one. You’re no longer just sending your Sims on a trip, but leading them through tombs and catacombs, finding treasures and meeting strange people wrapped in bandages (mummies? I haven’t seen any mummies … wait … oh, those are the wrapped-up people … silly me).
While ‘far away’ doesn’t necessarily apply to all vacation areas for me (I do live about one hour from the French border), the three new areas (China, France, Egypt) are interesting, well created and full of things to do and people to meet. The new areas fit with what you’d expect. The Chinese area is mountainous, green and filled with temples and other ‘historical’ sites. In France you have only slight rises, a lighter green and even a museum (with a crypt underneath). My favourite there is an old mansion you get to explore throughout a series of missions. In Egypt, there are no real hills (a few, serving as natural borders), you can visit the Sphinx and the pyramids, explore old graves and shop on a real bazaar.
There are mummies everywhere, though. In Egypt you’d expect them, but there are also some in France (underneath the Nectarium where you can make and buy nectar) and China (in the crypts underneath the Mouth of the Dragon). (Just for the record: there are mummies in China in reality, too. And they’re better preserved than the Egyptian kind.)
There are also new things to learn: taking photos with a real camera (not just the cell phone), creating nectar (the Sims equivalent of wine, since there’s no alcohol in the Sims world) or becoming a martial arts specialist.
By fulfilling missions for various people, you gain higher visa-levels, which means you can a) buy special stuff from one of the traders and b) stay longer. At the beginning, you can only stay in China, Egypt or France for three days, with the highest visa-level and a special permit you can buy, you can stay up to 18 days.
What I also liked much, is the possibility to create up to 5 cellar levels for a house. Before, it was only possible to create one cellar level (with a special trick, too). This means you can have up to nine storeys in a house now, four above ground and five below.
There are also some minor changes in game play on the whole, making some things a little easier (like emptying out a closet or bookshelf). And you can buy special displays for everything you bring back from the tombs, creating a museum of your own.
I really do like the new add-on and I’m currently on my way deep into the crypts below the Mouth of the Dragon (but I have to go to France first to get the right key-stone). I just hope I will be spared the Mummy’s Curse (because I don’t feel like a trip to Egypt to get rid of it).