The Sims 3: Ambitions Exclusive Hands-On - Ghost Hunting, Inventing, New Career Content

We get our hands on this career-minded expansion for The Sims 3.


By now, you know The Sims 3 and the story of The Sims in general--a series of games that lets you control the lives, loves, and potty breaks of little computer people who live in little computer houses and go to little computer jobs every day. While your sims' jobs typically take them out of play for several in-game hours, the upcoming Ambitions expansion actually adds several new careers that you can play through all day long, plus new career-related gameplay features that add a lot more variety and choice to the daily grind. We got our hands on an early version of the game to try out and have much to report.

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Ambitions' new features run through the entire base game of The Sims 3, including new traits that play into the new career. For example, "eccentric" makes your sims handier inventors and "perceptive" makes your sims better at sniffing out clues when working as private investigators. The expansion also adds an entirely new (and huge) neighborhood called Twinbrook, a backwater bayou town with plenty of amenities in the center of the city. And, perhaps in keeping with some of the new professions, like ghost hunter and PI, the town has lots of weird, backwoods swamps on the outskirts.

While we've covered the other professions in some detail, we haven't focused in on the ghost hunter or the inventor until now. The ghost hunter profession benefits greatly from logic skill (to work the experimental Ghostbusters-like contraptions that capture loose spirits), so it helps to pick logic-based traits like "genius" and "computer whiz" to aid your performance.

Like with all of Ambitions' professions, you can sign up for the career path straightaway by picking up the nearest newspaper (and using the "find a profession" option rather than the "find a job" option), which will immediately get you started on your career path. Better still, even though professions do have set work hours each day, they don't always require you to start an hour beforehand by jumping into that pesky carpool car. Instead, you'll get an onscreen pop-up alert that lets you know it's time for work, and you can get started on your own time. Early on in your career path, you can actually take your time, but as you gradually get promoted, your job will become more time consuming and you'll be better off if you hurry to your job.

As you might expect, bustin' ghosts requires you to work odd hours (you'll start off at about 5:00 p.m. in game time and work until the wee hours of the morning). The meat and potatoes of the profession are "spirit collecting" jobs that require you to don your ectoplasm-stained jumpsuit, hop into a cab, and travel across town to an infested house. Once you arrive, you'll be given an onscreen meter that keeps track of how many loose ghosts are on the premises, and you must head into the building to capture them, which you can do simply by clicking on a ghost to interact and choosing the "capture" option.

I ain't afraid of no ghost.
I ain't afraid of no ghost.

Ghosts appear as glowing blobs of varying colors and have different ages (such as young or old) and different temperaments (lower-level ghosts are "kind" or "nice," while higher-level ghosts will put up much more of a fight). They also have a monetary value attached to capturing them. Once you've sucked up every specter, you'll receive a cash bounty for clearing out the property and have the spirits in your inventory, which you can then donate to science. Interestingly, while you'd figure that working the graveyard shift as a ghost hunter would be a lonely and isolating job that cuts deeply into your sim's need to socialize, it turns out that several of the jobs you'll take will actually be in the inhabited homes of other sims across town. You can interact before and after you've taken care of their ghost problem, so you can still make friends, chat, and get to know their traits. However, these other sims won't feel like talking when there's a ghost within sight range--they'll be too busy running in terror.

On the other hand, if you decide to take a more hands-off profession, you might try the inventor career, which benefits greatly from both the logic and handiness skills. This profession is a much less social gig that requires your sim to make frequent trips to the local junkyard to hunt down piles of scrap from the trash heaps. You must then invest in a pricey workbench for your home and then spend hours hammering away until you can invent something useful. You might start with less-than-useful tchotchkes like a dipping llama (similar to the dipping bird…but with a llama) and move on up to more-powerful stuff like a tunnel that goes directly to the beach or the ever-popular time machine.

In all cases, you have different choices for advancing in your profession (rather than simply performing one and only one task). While there are jobs that are directly related to your gig that contribute to your advancement (which is measured in a meter in your profession tab), you can also perform other tasks that will advance your profession level and earn you extra cash. For example, there's a riddle contest downtown that tests your logic skill as a ghost hunter and earns you a nice chunk of change for your trouble. All professions have built-in money makers that will let you pursue them full time and keep your sims supplied with all the delivered pizza they want.

You can set this guy…but you'd best not forget him.
You can set this guy…but you'd best not forget him.

Ambitions' profession system is a much more flexible, much more open-ended and lenient way for your sims to earn some extra scratch. Each one has clearly been designed to be self-contained enterprises that ensure your sims can meet their basic needs of health, wealth, and social interaction without having to constantly come to a jarring stop to take that urgent bathroom break. Ambitions is scheduled for release on June 1.

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