The Sims 3: Pets is being advertised to be better with Kinect. The Sims was created by EA and has long been on the PC for a time, then was ported over to the first generation of Xbox. The Sims 2 was skipped for Xbox and The Sims 3 was originally released for 360 last year. We now have The Sims 3: Pets which is just a pet add-on to the Sims 3. For those that have no idea what Sims is about, being that most Kinect users would only be intrigued by this title because of the Kinect functionality, here you go:

Experience life on four legs as you explore The Sims’ world through the eyes of a dog or cat! Will you be fun and friendly or will you be more pest than pet? Dig, chase, find collectibles, learn to hunt, and more. Go outside and play or just go on the rug. Dogs can even help their owners land a date! Move up the pet pecking order with career opportunities (who knew there was a dog and cat underworld?). Travel the town with your owner, sniff out discoveries, find treasure, and more. You can use Kinect to give voice commands, not just to your pets, but to your Sims as well.

Can't we just all get along?

The full Sims 3 is in this game, with the new addition of the Pets. Unfortunately for those owners of Sims 3, you can’t add the pet portion on, unless its hidden somewhere on the marketplace. Typically I write very detailed reviews, however to completely review this game at the level of detail I usually write in, would be a novel – not to mention it would take me probably a year to break down everything in the game – so I am hoping you can understand that this type of game is unique and you really just have to play it for yourself, if it is your cup of tea. Also, probably most of you are familiar with the basic Sim concepts, so explaining them here would simply be overstating the obvious. If you want to know anything specific, just drop a comment in the form below.


Don't like your house? Blow it up!

Sims is a micro-managed simulation of life. You do everything that you normally do in real life, buy a house, get a job, buy/upgrade furnishes, even build out your house, get fired, get new jobs, eat breakfast, go to work, find a soul mate, have kids, send the kids to school, party, brush your teeth, sleep, etc. There really isn’t much in Sims that isn’t in real life. EA has tried to make the game fun, but I’ll be honest, it’s a niche market, not everyone has the patience for this type of game. I do also prefer a keyboard and mouse compared to the console as this type of game seemed to me, to take longer using the controller than the mouse. Wasn’t Kinect added to speed it up? That’s what I thought as well.

Kinect Functionality

The Kinect functionality, or should I rephrase to, lack of, is just voice commands. That is the only Kinect functionality in it, and unfortunately, the way the controller is mapped to the buttons, it’s quicker to press a button than to say a phrase. However, for those wanting to know what commands are recognized, here is the full list:

 – Stop That
 – Stop Everything
 – Go Home
 – Switch to Sim 1
 – Switch to Sim 2
 – Switch to Sim 3
 – Switch to Sim 4
 – Switch to Sim 5
 – Switch to Sim 6

 – Eat Something
 – Socialize
 – Use The Bathroom
 – Freshen Up
 – Go To Sleep
 – Have Fun
 – Destroy something

 – Be Funny
 – Be Friendly
 – Be Romantic
 – Be Mean
 – Be Playful
 – Be Loving
 – Feed Pet
 – Switch To This Sim

Pet Tricks
 – Sit Down
 – Sit Up
 – Shake
 – Roll Over
 – Speak
 – Play Dead

If you were looking for Kinectimals type functionality, unfortunately it’s not here. Most of the commands are for your Sim anyway, your pet only has a handful of commands. Where I found the controller faster, one example, to switch between your Sim and your pet, on the controller you only have to press Y. With Kinect, you have to say “Switch To Sim 1 or 2” which takes a little more time. I had no issues with voice recognition, but there wasn’t really a point to use it.

The Pet Add-on

The actual pet add-on is neat. It’s also very micro-managed, as your pet (I believe it is only cats and dogs, I didn’t see any other options to create other types of pets), you can sleep, dig holes, pee where ever, even drink your own pee (yes the game is that gross, thankfully there is no pooping), eat, play with chew toys/cat toys, watch tv, listen to music, bark at people, attack people, attack other animals or socialize with them and more. You do have to get your Sim to take care of things you can’t do yourself, such as bathing, or exercising. When your Sim goes to work, you can see what animals really do while your away. There is also another level of play as there’s a market specifically for the pets portion where you can exchange/trade items and pets with other players.

Teach an old dog new tricks?

The pets act pretty realistic as well and you can zoom the camera to catch some detail. There was one issue I noticed is when you run the game in fast forward mode, it skips a lot of frames. During loading screens, it does mention to install it to your hard drive to increase performance so you may want to do that before jumping into the game, the frame skipping caused me to miss a few actions.

Chase some bad guys for fun!

Again, if you were thinking this was being marketed like Kinectimals, it’s not like Kinectimals at all. It’s simple voice commands you give to your pet, however using the controller you can command your pet with more commands. The only interaction between you and your pet is when you tell your Sim to do something with your pet, you are just the overseer.

Good, but not better with Kinect

As for the Sims game itself, if you are “true” fan, you will absolutely love it. The pets portion adds a whole new level of gameplay and gives you more to do when you are a single Sim. I rated this game based on overall gameplay of the Sims game and the pets portion, not just the pets/Kinect portion, and tried to be unbiased as possible. I’ll be honest, it’s not my type of game, but I know it is for others so hopefully this review helps out if you are looking to buy it.

For those that have never played, if you don’t have patience for video games, I’m talking real patience such as being able to watch a Sim sleep for about 10 minutes in real-time even on fast forward, then this may not be a game for you. I don’t know if anyone has ever completed a Sims game, but it would probably take years. This type of game is very complex and micro-managed to every little detail. If you really are curious what it is like, I would recommend downloading the PC demo so you can get an idea of how the game works, which you can download from EA’s website.

As for Better with Kinect, this is another failed attempt by EA. Kinect doesn’t make the game better at all. The Sims is still the same without Kinect, heck it may even be better without, again this is the 3rd attempt by EA which they have had no success – the first was Harry Potter and the second was Burnout Crash! The next title EA has upcoming that is again, “Better with Kinect” is Family Game Night, let’s hope for the best. Maybe they should try to focus on a Kinect-only title, instead of bolting Kinect controls on existing titles.

This review is based on a retail copy of the Xbox 360 version of The Sims 3: Pets
Scoring policy: What do these game review scores actually mean?