While owning a virtual pet could never compare to the real thing, The Sims 3: Pets lets you explore the other side of pet ownership--from the animal's point of view. In this new expansion, you can fully control a horse, dog, or cat, as well as interact with other animals and sims. The new location is set in a beautiful Midwestern ranching town nestled between lush green hills, where you can let your dogs and cats run loose in the park or spend time riding horses at the equestrian center. We recently got a tour of the town and went over the highlights of pet ownership.
We were told that all of the new buildings were created from scratch, so you'll have a school, grocery store, and other new venues to explore. Carefully groomed parks are available for your canine friends to explore, or you can choose to play as a dog and frolic in the fountain. If dogs aren't your thing or you're more partial to a feline companion, you can explore the elaborate jungle gym built for the curious kitties. As much as some of you may like to abuse your sims, you can't do any harm to the animals, but they will eventually die of old age. Dogs have the unique ability of digging for treasure, whereas cats can go hunting for other small critters and bring them back home so you can set up terrariums for them. Turtles, lizards, and rats are just some of the creatures you can keep in a terrarium, but you can also have a pet bird that can mimic and play tricks on unsuspecting sims. As we saw in our demo, cats can also get into trouble when unattended. They'll scratch at the furniture or start counter surfing, diving into your leftovers on the table.
Outside of the charming town, you'll find oversized billboards, dinosaur bones, and a potential tourist hot spot once the game is complete. Because horses are the big addition to this expansion, you'll likely want to spend your time on the flood plains riding horses and perhaps even taking them over to the equestrian center so you can take part in competitions or even get into horse breeding. You can set up your own courses for the horses, teaching them to jump over gates that get progressively more elaborate. There's even a pyrotechnic one that shoots off fireworks if you manage to get over it. You'll have to train your sim and horse in tandem, raising the sim's riding skill, as well as the horse's racing or jumping ability. If not, your sim could get knocked off or the horse may refuse to go over the gate.
To go with the whole ranching theme, your sims will have access to a variety of Western-styled outfits like cowboy hats, plaid shirts, jeans, or cut-off shorts. There will likely be other new objects and items that you can play with, along with the terrariums, but we'll find out once the expansion is released on October 18 for the PC.