Hearing a middle age woman wax lyrical about a video game is sadly still not as commonplace as many games designers would like. Hearing a middle aged woman chatting with a hardcore gamer about the positive impacts of installing a brand new TV in her virtual house is downright unusual. It's during these sorts of moments that you realise just what a massive impact The Sims has had on gaming.
With The Sims 3 battling it out for global supremacy on the PC, EA mobile has been busy developing its own version of the series for release on the iPhone and iPod touch. If you think of the town in the PC incarnation of The Sims 3 as London, then the iPhone version probably equates to somewhere like High Wycombe. There are a couple of shops, a smattering of houses and a lake to while away your Sundays at, but other than these few distractions you'll essentially want to focus on your house.
As per the classic Sims formula you start off with a small one-bedroom abode decked out in gaudy furniture and basic amenities. Just like Tiger Woods and Need for Speed there is a real feeling of tactility to the user interface and it feels clear from the word go that The Sims 3 has been built from the ground up to run on Apple's iDevice. Two fingers on the screen lets you rotate around your digital homestead while a zoom bar allows you to get up close and personal as your Sims potter about their virtual world.
As nice as just looking at the house is you'll soon need to get your Sim off the couch and into town for a mosey about. It's clear EA mobile wanted careers to be a big part of The Sims 3 and the town centre offers plenty of opportunities for gainful employment. While nearly every action in the game is facilitated by a mini game, working merely requires you to show up to your chosen job on time. Unfortunately starting on a poor wage that barely covers your food costs and not having any sort of exciting mini game to spur on the experience means many will probably skip over the job feature altogether. Catching fish or growing vegetables is a far more lucrative way to play the game early on and there really isn't much of a drive to waste time with a 9-5.
What The Sims 3 proves overall is that EA mobile are demonstratively committed to the iDevice as a gaming platform. Built from the ground up to make use of every scrap of technology onboard Apple's handheld, The Sims 3 should really be seen as The Sims 1 mobile edition. Other than some gameplay niggles that throw the social life/work seesaw slightly off kilter, The Sims 3 does real credit to EA's long running mega series and deserves a home on any casual gamer's iPhone.