We recently had a chance to take a brief look at Ambitions, the second expansion for The Sims 3, which will flesh out the suburbs of SimCity with expanded career choices for your little computer people. According to associate producer Grant Rodiek, Ambitions is intended to add lots of variety to The Sims 3's gameplay, along with more depth for players of all types (including ambitious role players who try to develop their sims; builders who use the game's build and buy modes to create houses; and observers who like to sit back and watch things happen).
The new careers (firefighter, doctor, private investigator, tattoo artist, architectural designer, inventor, and sculptor) add "responsibilities" in the form of a new submenu for each of your sims and act as multiple goals to help you progress to the next level of your career. That is, instead of just the usual linear requirements to get to the next rung of the ladder, you'll be able to choose from a couple of different options to get to that next promotion.
The new professions will often require you to hop out of your house to take the next job--such as fighting a fire down the street or investigating a suspicious lead on a case. But thankfully, these jobs will appear on the neighborhood map, so hopping from objective to objective will be a breeze in the new neighborhood of Twin Brook, which is a fictitious bayou town not unlike a backwoods suburb of Louisiana. (Incidentally, Ambitions will also usher in a much requested change in the neighborhood view--you'll now be able to add, remove, and edit lots in the neighborhood view, just like in the Sims 2.)
We had a chance to see some of the new professions in action, such as firefighters, who live at home but report to the firehouse, where they can work on their mechanical skills by upgrading the fire engine (which starts off as a slow-moving clunker that doesn't always make it out to the fire in time) and slide down the fire pole to respond to distress calls throughout the city. These include fires of all sizes, as well as other disasters, such as earthquakes and attacks by hordes of angry lawn gnomes. PIs, on the other hand, receive cases that take place as multipart quests and may require them to travel across town to search a crime scene for clues or interrogate suspects. Inventors harvest scrap from the local junkyard to hammer out projects, such as a hygienic floor spray (which spritzes a cleansing shower of water from the floor that increases the hygiene rating of any sims that walk over it). There's also a time machine that lets your sims travel back in time to have past-tense "woohoo" (The Sims' euphemism for getting to know someone in the biblical sense) and even have your children come visit you in the future. And, there's a live-in robot that will not only do your chores but can also pursue its own career path and even have relationships with other sims.
In addition to releasing Ambitions, EA's Play division (which is responsible for The Sims) will unveil a completely free new tool for The Sims 3 this summer independent of Ambitions--the pattern maker. This editing tool will let you play with a number of preset decals, changing their color and opacity, then test out what those decals look like skinning a sample living room (walls, floor, furniture). You can even create and import your own images into the game. Ambitions will definitely offer lots of new stuff for Sims fans to play with when it ships later this year.