There are only two reactions to The Sims 3 being brought to console. It's either unbridled, tearful glee or a sense of flatline disinterest as you watch another Sim title pop up in your local games store. Often the two feelings will merge and you'll find yourself buying the game regardless of whether or not you've lost interest in the franchise by this point. This is the kind of commercial franchise The Sims has become, a behemoth big enough and consistently good enough to keep throwing your money at. Even when you very well know you'll lose interest after bricking the maid behind a wall.
Character creation functions as it would on PC, albeit tuned to work with a controller. The standard customisation options are there, integrating items from the online store alongside community creations. Fancy that jacket you're looking at? Lovely, is that real fur? Now go ahead and see the various colours and patterns that have been designed by other Sims players. Online community is an enormous aspect of the game, as it had been throughout the series, and you're encouraged to continue developing new material for the game to share directly over XBL and PSN.
But Sims 3 goes beyond your standard port by making a few additional improvements to its PC sibling. This has been tailor-made for the Sims fan who spends his time exploring the limits of the game; the guy who spent three hours finding new and inventive ways of bricking his neighbours into a spare room or attempting to create a haven for ghosts.
You're set challenges. In Sim tradition these generally relate to your everyday suburban desires. Get a promotion, make a friend, kiss that girl you just saw. Successfully finish these off and you'll accrue enough Challenge Points to buy items and unlock novelty features called Karmic Abilities.
And this is where the value of torturing Sims is recognised as part of the gameplay. Karma is gained nightly and through challenges, and can be used to punish and reward your characters. If you want your house to be populated with ghosts then you can use the Poltergeist ability. If you want fireballs to cause havoc then go for Fire Storm. If you want to experience a sweet sense of virtual schadenfreude then go cast Epic Fail on your neighbours and watch as they quickly become demoted, lose their job, and have their homes broken in to.
Or alternatively you could mirror those PC cheats you had been accustomed to and cast Giant Jackpot or Stroke of Genius to accelerate the time it takes to develop skills. But where your attempts at gaming the system in the past had little real effect on anything in the game beyond your Sims, Karma effects you as a player with the "Hour of Reckoning" feature. Every night you'll face the consequences of how you've treated Sims throughout the day. "Something" will happen, we're told, possibly the most ominously vague fact you'll read all day.
As of now The Sims 3 appears to be the most successful adaptation of a Sims title on to console. For all the success of the series it's taken a decade to get the formula quite right. Sims 2 was released for PS2, Xbox and GameCube back in the day, but those games feature gameplay scrubbed clean of some of the most traditional hallmarks of the franchise. Like aging, to name one glaringly absent feature. Sims 3 is a solid translation of a PC game to console. The question is whether the minor additions to the game will be interesting enough to warrant buying its console brethren when you've probably already played it on PC.
The Sims 3 is due for release on PS3, Xbox 360, Wii, and Nintendo DS on October 26.