Okay, maybe not.
Alright, as promised, here's where I blather on for a while about the similarities/differences between the two games. This will get long. So long, in fact, that I just ended up covering pretty much the Sims and their stats/meters/gameplay quirks/etc. rather than the whole overall game in this post. You have been warned.
So where to begin? Really, I think EA (as much as I hate to give the props for anything) did a really good job with making the Sims 3 both a definite "Sims" game, and yet changing things and improving them enough for it to fully qualify as a new game.
Okay, first let's start off with the different stats, etc., for your Sims. Sorta like the hobbies, meters, aspirations, etc., last time around:
This time around there are only six different things that are tracked on meters: Hunger, Bladder, Energy, Social, Hygiene, and Fun. Others like comfort are now covered under another system, which I'll get to shortly. If you've played the Sims before, you should know how all these work, although this time around I *think* they drop a little more slowly, and there seem to be more ways to raise some of them. (Like slacking off a bit at work will raise your Fun meter slightly, keeping you from getting stressed out.) Helpfully, if there's some specific affect from something related to one of the meters, a little icon will show up next to the meter. (Like if your Sim is stressed out from not enough fun and too much work, the little stressed icon will show next to the Fun meter.)
As before, your Sim's overall mood is made up from these six other meters, but this time there are other things involved in the calculation as well. Your mood meter helps determine things like how quickly you learn skills, and most especially your work performance.
Which brings us to the moodlets, which are totally new for this game. And which are, IMHO, a really nice addition. Whenever you perform certain actions, are in certain environments, have certain things happen... your Sim can get different moodlets applied to the for specific amounts of time. These moodlets are little icons in a separate window next to your meters, and each one affects your mood meter in different ways, positively or negatively. (Or a few are neutral, but they're usually warnings that you're going to get a negative mood if you're not careful).
For instance, if your character's Hunger meter starts to get low, you'll get a neutral moodlet for 3 hours that shows you that your Sim is starting to get hungry. If you still haven't eaten at the end of those 3 hours, you get a nasty moodlet that lowers your mood greatly until you get around to eating. On the other hand, if you sleep a full night's sleep without being interrupted before your Energy meter is completely full, you'll have a "Well Rested" moodlet that lasts for about 10 hours or so, and raises your Sim's mood. Eating food cooked on a cheap stove might give a negative moodlet for a few hours because the food was unevenly cooked, while cooking using nice ingredients and nice skill (and nice equipment) give a positive moodlet for a few hours because the meal was good. There are seriously a *ton* of these, enough that I can't even begin to try to list them all... even little things like getting a negative "garlic breath" moodlet if you eat raw garlic, or a "minty fresh" moodlet for a few hours if you brush your teeth.
This is also where the meters that were dropped from Sims 2 come back into play. Things like Comfort and Environment are now covered by moodlets - while your Sim is in a nicely decorated room, well-lit and so on, they'll have a positive moodlet while they're in that room, with a few stages depending on just *how* nice it is. If you didn't spring for lights/windows and the room is too dark, that'll give a negative moodlet, ditto if you didn't finish the room (flooring, wallpaper, etc.). Sitting on a chair or lying on a bed will give a positive "comfy" moodlet while you're on that furniture. Things like that. So they are still being taken into effect for tabulating mood, but just not by having more meters, which is nice.
Now, as you create your Sim, you also pick five different traits for that Sim, from a nicely long list. As far as I remember these don't have any direct comparison to anything in Sims 2, although I suppose in a way they tie into the Aspirations (Family, Romance, etc.), which your Sim only had one of. These traits come from a variety of categories: mental, physical, lifestyle, etc., and effect a lot of what your Sim can do.
My main Sim, for instance, is a Bookworm, which means she can read books faster than most, and more of her Wishes (see below) have to do with books. She has a Green Thumb, which lets her learn the Gardening skill faster as she works in the garden, and gives her the extra option to talk to her garden plants to increase her Social meter. She's a Slob, which seems initially like it'd be a negative/handicap, and it does mean that when she's run by just the AI she doesn't tend to clean up after herself as well as other Sims do. But it also means that she doesn't get a lot of the negative moodlets that other Sims get for being around garbage, unwashed dishes, spoiled food, or for having a low Hygiene meter. Her Neurotic trait means that when left running under the AI's care she'll develop nervousness that the stove was left turned on, the sink was left running, etc., which gives a short-term negative moodlet... but if she goes to check them, it'll give a short-term positive moodlet in its place. She can also "freak out" at times, which will last a very short time, then give her a nice positive "Tranquil" moodlet for about eight hours, since she's got it out of her system. And finally, I gave her the Good Sense of Humor trait, which means that she has more funny social options, and that her jokes rarely fall flat.
Those just show the wide variety of things that traits can affect - moodlets, extra interactions, and so on. Some are even more strange and quirky - the Daredevil trait makes many of the normal interactions with objects "Extreme," such as "Extreme Sleep" or "Extreme Nap" on a bed (I think my favorite is "Extreme Shower Until Extremely Clean"). I've read (I haven't tried it myself.. yet...) that the Insane trait makes a Sim do odd things like wear exercise wear to bed, swim in their formal wear, and so on. "Good" Sims can have extra "good" interactions when socializing, and can donate to charity from their mailbox, for a long-running positive moodlet. And so on and so forth.
By the way, babies are born with two traits, and if they're born during the game, you can choose one or both depending on how the pregnancy goes (high mood meter, maybe reading some pregnancy books, etc.). They gain a third trait when going from toddler to child, another from child to teen, and the fifth from teen to young adult. Again, how well you do in each stage (training a toddler to use the potty, walk and talk, how well kids do in school and so on) determines whether or not you get to pick the traits, or if they're assigned (sometimes semi-randomly, sometimes based on heredity).
These more or less take the place of the "Wants" from Sims 2 (I know, you could never guess from the names! Wishes and Wants are similar? How bizarre!) The Fears are pretty much dropped (or perhaps covered by negative moodlets).
They're much the same as before in concept - tied in to your Traits, lifetime goal, and other aspects of your Sim's skills and personality. The main difference is in their execution - instead of being randomly assigned four (or six if you had a college graduate) whenever your Sim woke/came home from work/whatever, you are gradually given the option of one or more at a time, and can left-click them to move up to four down into your "Current Wishes." Sometimes they're somewhat random depending on your Sim's personality, sometimes they seem to be effected by what's going on at the time (like eating a certain dish might make the Wish pop up for a Sim with high cooking to cook a perfect version of that meal, or eating in general might make the "Clean Dishes" wish crop up). You can also right-click a current wish to remove it from the list at no penalty, if you want to replace it.
Completing Wishes gives you Lifetime Happiness points, which are covered below. More difficult Wishes give more points. You also get a positive moodlet for a few hours when you fulfill a Wish. They are, basically, mini-goals to complete as your Sim goes throughout the day, things they'll probably be able to do within either the course of a day or shortly thereafter, although some get to be a little more far-reaching (like having five grandchildren, when a few adult children have moved out on their own).
Another difference though is that since there is no aspiration meter this time, fulfilling Wishes doesn't affect it. Because, duh.
And this is sort of like a Wish, magnified. It takes the place of the lifetime goal from last time that was based on your overall Aspiration in life. This time, you get to choose one based on your traits - if you create a Sim from scratch, you'll have five choices (for young adults or older, anyhow, not sure what happens with kids) of a lifetime goal to pick from, tied into your different traits. (With my main Sim for instance I went with the "Perfect Garden" Lifetime Goal, which was to grow at least 8 different types of plants to the "perfect" level, which I assume is tied in to her Green Thumb trait, duh.)
If you have a Sim baby during the game, it can start having possible Lifetime Goals show up along with the normal Wishes once it reaches childhood (or possibly teenage years? I think it was childhood, but I'm not positive). You can choose to go with the first one offered, or cancel it and wait for another to pop up. I've never waited too long, so I'm not certain if there's any point that the game just says "you don't get to choose one" or makes you choose, or whatever.
Fulfilling a Lifetime Goal gives a positive moodlet for something like an in-game week, and gives you a boatload of Lifetime Happiness. Unfortunately, right now at least there doesn't seem to be any way to get a new Lifetime Goal once you complete the first one, so you're left a bit aimless in that department. But for a good while, it gives your Sim something major to strive for, and a direction in life.
Since I mentioned this a few times above, I figured I'd better go around and cover it. :p This takes the place of the Aspiration points and rewards and so on from the last game. As I said, you gain Lifetime Happiness whenever you fulfill Wishes (and a lot for a Lifetime Goal), and you also slowly generate it while your Sim is in a good mood. You can then use the Lifetime Happiness to buy various rewards. Some of them are like added traits in a way - you can lower the speed of decrease for your various meters, give your Sim an extra boost to their green thumb or artistic traits or what have you, give them discounts in shops, get them free food at diners and so on... or for the more expensive rewards you can start to buy actual objects (much like in Sims 2) that do things like replicate food, morph a Sim's body (making them thinner/fatter, weaker/more muscular), or the highest level one is a teleport pad that lets your Sim teleport instantly from home to someplace in town, or using their phone, from out in the neighborhood back home.
This honestly is one place where the game is lacking IMHO... there is a somewhat long list of rewards, but not really long enough, when your Sims start gaining a ton of points from being played for a while.. and most of the rewards just aren't all that interesting to be honest. They need more rewards, greater variety, better stuff. IMHO, of course. This is especially disappointing since so many of the major mechanics feed into Lifetime Happiness. :/ If you're not even using the points you have, it makes you wonder what the point of fulfilling more wishes and such is.
And these should be familiar from Sims 2, although they're a bit changed, and also cover some of the Hobbies that were introduced in a later Sims 2 expansion pack (Free Time).
Let's see, off the top of my head we have (in just the order I'm remembering them): Painting, Cooking, Gardening, Fishing, Guitar, Charisma, Logic, Handiness, Writing, and Athletics. And pretty much each one adds on a whole new aspect of the game, as opposed to mostly just being a metric that helps you succeed in a few certain tasks and gets you promotions at work. You can also get Opportunities (see below, or probably another post) based on your different skills.
Fairly straightforward. It determines how well you paint, and how valuable any finished paintings are. This is one of the less "beefy" of the skills, but you do get a few options as the skill goes up, such as taking photos with your cell phone to paint later, or painting portraits once you get to a certain point.
This obviously helps determine how well you succeed at preparing food (or whether you set the house on fire), but a greater skill helps determine the quality of the dish, which in turn determines the type of moodlets Sims might get after eating the dish, or might be important for things like finishing Opportunities or fulfilling Wishes.
Cooking is slightly deeper this time around - your fridge starts off with a small basic stock, but the game keeps track of what's inside it (and in fact you can open it and manipulate the fridge inventory yourself), rather than just tracking a general supply level. Each specific dish that you create uses specific ingredients, which can be grown or obtained in other ways (like through fishing), or otherwise bought at a supermarket. If you don't have the ingredients for the dish on hand you can still cook it (except for a few specific high-level dishes that take special ingredients), but you just need to pay a slightly higher than supermarket price for the ingredients, for the convenience of getting them automatically.
Much like the last game you can also prepare a wider variety of foods as your Cooking skill level goes up, although this time only some of the dishes are automatically known - others you need to learn through buying and reading recipe books from the bookstore, or by watching the cooking channel on the TV.
You can plant seeds and even whole fruits/vegetables, and grow plants. Which, duh. You find the seeds around town lying in various places, and fruits/vegetables can be bought at the market, or harvested from wild plants, which is kinda neat. You have to care for the garden yourself, which can be time-consuming, although you can buy a sprinkler (and eventually upgrade it to auto-watering) to help out. In return, you get fresh fruit and veggies for your meals, and a few high-level special plants with special effects that only accomplished gardeners can tend. You can also sell the produce you harvest, and if it's high quality the prices can be pretty nice.
Leveling up in this skill is fairly important if you want to do anything with it at all - You can't plant "uncommon" seeds/foods until level 5, and "rare" and "special" seeds/foods are at level 7. You can't weed until level... 2 or 3? And fertilizing your plants is a bit later than that.
Your plants (and crops) have a quality level, which is determined by the care they get, and the quality of the seed/fruit they grow from. So in other words, in order to get perfect plants and the perfect foods that you can harvest from them, you need to plant seeds, tend them well, increase their quality a bit as they grow, plant the new fruit, tend *that* plant, and so on for a few generations until you reach the highest level.
And here's another semi-hefty skill. Your Sim can fish at the various watery spots around town, although different areas have different types of fish, and different concentrations of them/bite rates. Fish are good for cooking things like sushi or fish and chips, and for selling. You can also buy a fish bowl and put any fish inside it to keep as a pet (it shrinks down to fit), or get one mounted to display in your home.
Leveling up increases the types of fish you can successfully catch, plus a few other effects. At level one or two your Sim can inspect the water to see what types of fish (at least, the ones that they can catch so far) are there, and how often the fish are likely to bite. At slightly higher levels, your Sim can start using different types of bait, to attract specific types of fish. You can learn what fish like which bait by reading books, or by watching the fishing channel. Or by just experimenting and getting lucky.
As a side note, you can also create a pond on your home's lot, and if you get 10 or more fish of one type (through catching them, buying them from the market, whatever) you can stock the pond with them, and then fish for that type of fish from then on at your pond. Also, you can sometimes fish up a "sealed box" which contains different odd items.
It's a bit sad that there's only one instrument type (at least so far), but at least they did some neat things with it. Your Sim can play guitar better at higher skill levels (like, again, duh), and learn specific compositions from books at certain skill levels. The guitar skill is handy because you can actually put the guitar in your character's inventory to take it other places, like to the park, and play the guitar there. At a certain skill level, you can start playing for tips from passers-by, for an interesting money-making alternative.
I haven't done much with this one, honestly. It levels up as you interact with other Sims, and basically gives you more options for socializing with them, and things like higher starting friendships with Sims you meet. It's one of the less interesting Skills though, IMO.
This is learned from things like playing chess and using telescopes. There's not too much deep gameplay involved with it, although it does unlock a few things. At a somewhat low level of logic you can start searching the galaxy with a telescope, and if you discover new stars, moons, etc., you can name them, and are given a reward of money for your discovery. You can them talk about your discovery with other Sims.
There is also a chess ranking in this game, and as you gain the logic skill and have a chess table in your house, you can invite the next-ranked chess player over and challenge them to a match. Which is not too major, but a neat little touch.
This is like both Mechanical skill, and "Tinkering" from Free Time. The most obvious thing it does is let you repair objects yourself without having to call/pay for a repairman... and without getting electrocuted to death. But as you go up in level, you also start to unlock different upgrades for various objects around the house, making this IMHO one of the neatest skills to play around with.
For instance one of the earlier levels lets you make a lot of objects (stoves, sinks, toilets, showers) self-cleaning, so that you'll never have to clean them when they get grungy again. One of the later levels lets you upgrade objects to make them Unbreakable. You can make stoves Fireproof, make sprinklers automatic for your garden, wire stereos so that they go to *every* room in your house... just a ton of neat little things.
This lets you, uh, write. Duh. Actually, once you buy a computer you can start to write novels. At first only fiction or non-fiction, but more (and better-paying) genres open up as your skill goes up. And as your skill goes up, you have better chances of writing a hit. It takes a while for your Sim to finish a book, but they'll get paid a few chunks of money during the process as you submit chapters (not much, but a little). Then once you finish the book, you get a complimentary copy in the mail the next day (which you can put on your bookshelf and read like any other book), and you'll receive royalties depending on the quality of the book for the next six weeks, every Sunday.
This is pretty neat, in other words, as another alternate money-maker, sorta like playing the guitar for tips, or gardening and selling the produce.
Pretty self-explanatory. Your athletics skill helps out in certain jobs, and it also affects your Sim's physical looks (a very athletic Sim will be beefier, have a thicker neck, etc.). As you go up in level you gain more work-out options, and can even start to train other Sims. But generally, not one of the beefier skills. Except physically. ;)
*pant pant* Anyhow, skills as mentioned help determine not only success in what you do, or how many things you *can* do, but unlock Opportunities for your Sims. They also help determine a lot of the Wishes your Sim might get.
Skills are learned a few ways. You can take (somewhat expensive, at least at the start) classes at the various buildings around town. You can read skill books, with each book covering a span of about 3 skill levels that can be learned from it. Or you can learn by doing. Which can be dangerous if you're trying to learn cooking using a stove, but hey, that's what fire alarms are for!
Along with the Skills you have a Skill Journal, which contains different challenges for each skill. Things like cooking every recipe in the game, catching a certain number of fish... things like that. Each challenge that you meet gains you some reward that relates to that skill. (Faster cooking time, higher sell-prices for fish I believe, etc.) The Skill Journal also records some handy info related to the skill, such as ingredients for each recipe you know on the Cooking Tab, preferred bait for each fish type (if you've learned it) on the Fishing tab, your current Chess ranking on the Logic tab, and so on.
*pant pant* Now that the Skills are out of the way, I should also mention that each Sim also has his or her own personal inventory. This lets them (duh) carry things around with them if they leave the lot, or bring things home that they buy, and so on. It's handier this time around to manipulate the inventory, since you can pretty much just open the tab for it, click and drag objects to and from the inventory. Or click and drag an item from one Sim's inventory to another's portrait to transfer it. Easy peasy, although it can get a bit weird if your Sim isn't on your home lot.
Things like fruit can be eaten directly from the inventory, for a boost to the Hunger meter (although not as much as cooked food), and for certain Opportunities you'll often need to carry something in your inventory to another Sim.
There's also a Family Inventory that's used for things like moving house, but that's a bit separate, and not really all that important. :p
And... I think that about does it for me for tonight. That's most of the actual nitty gritty stat-type of thing that your Sims have, and pretty much the rest of the stuff can be covered in another post. Or, if necessary, two. *rolls eyes* Hey, I warned you this'd be long!
Next up: things like aging, the evolving neighborhood, work for your Sims, etc etc.
Ugh, I'm obviously going rambling on about this, and it's almost turning into a FAQ rather than a review or quick comparison. But I'm having fun talking about it, and hope to strike up some discussion, and plus it's a pretty damn beefy game and I figure it deserves to be delved into, if people are going to read and decide on trying it or not. So... sorry if it's too long, at least you can hopefully just read the sections that interest you and skim the rest!