Sims 3 official

Latest version of Will Wright's phenomenally successful franchise coming to the PC in 2009.

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Earlier this month, a teaser site popped up on the Internet promising that more information on The Sims 3 would be coming on March 19. Well, D-Day has come, and Electronic Arts has made it official: The Sims 3 is indeed en route.

The third stand-alone game in the Sims series will feature a new engine, which EA has been slaving away at for three years, and the biggest new feature will be the ability to seamlessly move around an open neighbourhood.

Previous games in the Sims series were expanded by packs such as The Sims: Hot Date, and The Sims: Vacation, which let gamers take their sims on holiday or into town with a beau, for example, but these communal zones were always separate from sims' abodes.

In the next game, the sims will be able to walk freely around their neighbourhoods, visit their pals, and venture to new locations such as City Hall and the local park.

There will also be a "deeper" system for governing how sims behave, called the Realistic Personality System, which will let gamers manipulate five character traits when creating their sims. This opens up a number of possibilities, or as EA puts it: "Will you create the nosy, inappropriate, kleptomaniac grandmother who loves to meddle in other people's business? Or the commitment-phobic, hot-headed punk rocker whose rude nature and childish disposition keeps him from scoring a date?" Apparently, 700 million different combinations await.

Customising both the sims themselves and the items around them will also become an easier and deeper experience, EA says. The upgrades include fine tuning for every part of sims' faces, and a new set of design tools for customising items for their houses.

The first Sims game was released in 2000, and since then the series has sold some 98 million games worldwide, and has been translated into 22 different languages.

The Sims 3 is being developed by Electronic Arts Redwood Shores and will be shipping worldwide on the PC in 2009. There is no mention of it coming to any console platforms.

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