The Sims 3 for 3DS Hands-On

We take a turn on the Sims 3 character creator on the 3DS, including a photo-based sim face generator.


At Nintendo's European 3DS showcase event, the Sims 3 demo was its character creator: the menus and sliders you'll use to create a sim in the full game, with the neat gimmick of auto-creating a sim character based on your DS-snapped photograph.

Who's Making It: Electronic Arts team the Sims Studio. EA says the game will be available "during [the] Nintendo 3DS launch window."

What It Looks Like: In the small portion of the game available to play, it looked much like The Sims 3 as we saw on the home consoles last year--albeit scaled down, pared down (a bit), and in three dimensions. The portion available in the demo was character creation, in which your in-progress sim poses in front of a mirror while you pick his or her hair, clothes, build, face, and the like.

How It Uses 3D: The adjustable 3D is in effect once again; at one point, a cityscape in an isometric view appeared on the upper screen. Moving the 3D slider to and fro was something like opening the pages of a pop-up book. But for the most part, there's a moderate 3D effect in play--the kind that adds depth and fullness to models as you examine them from various angles, rather than virtually poking you in the eye.

What You Do: Again, we've seen only a character creation screen thus far, and only for the cosmetic options--the personality creation section was locked. As you might expect, you select options from the touch-screen menu on the lower screen--hairstyle, for example--and see those options appear on the upper screen in 3D on the character model. Other features can be adjusted by moving the cursor with the stylus across a set of axes on the lower screen, simultaneously altering nose size and shape, for instance.

The key gimmick is in the face-making section, in which you can take a photograph with the 3DS's front- or back-facing camera and then have the game automatically create a sim face that approximates your own. You can adjust the result if you like, maybe to edge it closer to a perfect copy of your own mug--lighting conditions seemed to strongly influence the skin colour assigned to your sim, but general face shape seemed to be picked up quite accurately. As a feature, it's a lot like the 3DS's own Mii Maker--the photo-based automatic Mii generator shown off at the showcase conference.

How It Plays: It plays fine, with the controls mostly based on simple stylus-and-touch-screen menu selection. It remains to be seen how well the game proper plays and how The Sims' interface has been adapted for the DS touch screen.

What We Say: The face-matching sim generator is a cute novel feature that will speed up the inevitable in any Sims game--that is, re-creating yourself as a sim. The Sims' visuals have translated well onto a small screen and into 3D so far, but it's too scant an offering to make a call on how the final game will play.

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