Much like prequels have been prevalent in movies today, so to have video games tried to fill in the blank periods between their games. And whose better history to see, much more play as, than characters that we ourselves have created? That is exactly what The Sims 3: University Life aims to offer us as it fills the void between teenage years to full adulthood.
The Sims 3: University Life is the new expansion pack from the Sims 3, and it covers your character’s years during college from acceptance until your eventual graduation. It can also integrate with other expansion packs such as the Seasons and Halloween expansion, if you have them available.
Pretty much like in real life, players will have to take an aptitude test which would provide them with financial aid credits that they can use once they select one of the six majors that they would like to take. Unfortunately, advanced degrees are not yet available within this pack, but future installments may be able to deliver it.
After acceptance, players must then choose a place to live in, and they must be able to balance out their school lives and social lives, which more often than not is balanced by a very thin line. Keg parties and social gatherings might coincide with big exams, and players can also ask for additional assignments in order to make up for lost credits, just like people would actually do in reality.
Social classes also exist within the game. Players can hang out with one of three crowds, namely the jocks, the nerds, and the rebels. While there is no aggressive animosity between the three, it can be fun to join one or the other just to see how they live within the walls of the university, and it would be a great way to test the waters especially if you were pretty much a loner back in college in real life. Still, players can improve on their social standings within each group no matter which crowd they are inclined to lean towards, making you someone who can pretty much mingle with everyone.
Extracurricular activities include Street Art, where rebels tag walls while avoiding apprehension, and Science skills will have players doing research and experiments on techniques such as cloning. Social networking is also pretty prevalent within the game, and the game imitates reality as players can create blogs, add friends, and even have relationships with other Sims.
Upon graduation, your grades will be able to determine just how easy finding a job would be, and it would also affect your starting salary as well as how fast you will be able to get that promotion. Thus, those who would like to continue their simulated life all throughout adulthood must be able to study well and adjust accordingly to college life, as this will adversely affect the later years once you land a job or embark on a career of your own.
If there are any criticisms about this particular expansion pack of the Sims series, it’s that the game offers up a smaller range of degrees for a university, not to mention the lack of Masteral or Doctorate courses. Maybe something in the line of social sciences would be appreciated. Also, the game suffers from some slow times especially during heavy play, but these can be negligible at times but can be still quite noticeable.
On the upside, The Sims 3: University Life allows players with basically a second chance to get into university, interacting with different social groups and getting another shot at chasing that dream degree. They would also be able to enjoy all-nighters and other activities like hanging out in the bar or attending protests. There are other quiet activities too, and players can hang out in the coffee shop or comics store, while the loner types can just stay in their dorm and play video games, resulting in an Inception type logic where you play a game of a person playing a game.
While logic dictates that no one would like to go to school twice, University Life has proven to be quite formidable with regards to sales. Maybe it’s because it gives players the opportunity to do things that they were not able to do in the mission to get good grades, or maybe they would like to see if they could beat their marks while they were attending a real university. Or maybe they just miss all the parties and social interactions, both of which are largely available within this game.
University Life, at least the virtual one, can be quite fun, and players will be able to experience the glories f their youth once again. At the very least, they could do a retry and see if they could both perform better or gel with a specific group much more effectively. Just as The Sims franchise aims to simulate life, University Life will allow players to test the waters as well as the consequences of their actions whether for future references or for verification of past events. Attend a party rather than join the group study? Join a protest instead of doing research in the lab? These are just some of the many choices that you will have to make, and players must be able to live up to the consequences of their actions, which would eventually be felt once they graduate.
The Sims 3: University Life gives players another shot at college life, and it is a pretty solid game that will provide gamers with tons of hours of enjoyment. Studying can be fun, as long as you balance out work and play, both in real life and in the Sim world.
Tested on PC. Final Score: 7/10
The Sims 3: University Life was developed by EA Maxis and The Sims Studio. It was published by Electronic Arts and was made available for both the Mac OS X and Microsoft Windows systems. It was released on March 5, 2013 in North America, and March 8, 2013 in Europe.