The Sims 3: Late Night Exclusive Hands-On - A Brief Look at the New Expansion
We try out the next Sims 3 expansion, which will let you start a band, be a professional celebrity, and become a vampire...who isn't sparkly in the sunlight!
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Late Night will be the next expansion pack for The Sims 3, and while it has echoes of the Hot Date expansion for the original version of The Sims, it'll offer a whole lot more. We recently had a chance to briefly try out the new content, start a band, moonlight as a bartender, and explore the game's…unusual interpretation of rated-T-for-teen bloodsucking.
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Producer Grant Rodiek describes Late Night as a "return to the open-ended gameplay of The Sims" in reference to how the expansion will focus more on socializing and exploring, in contrast to World Adventures and Ambitions, which were more focused on directed, role-playing game-like advancement. Instead, Late Night will focus on getting your sims out of the house and into the nightlife at various clubs throughout the brand new town of Bridgeport, which was modeled after both the bohemian city of San Francisco and the home of Tinseltown, Los Angeles. These clubs include anything from lowly dive bars to the trendiest of venues, where the bouncers only let in the social elite. Late Night will have a "hot spot" system that highlights which of the town's clubs will be the most crowded and which will be flat-out empty.
The hot spot system plays into several of Late Night's new features, such as the new "celebrity level." All sims can gain up to five levels of notoriety (indicated by a 5-star meter that floats above each one's head). At lower levels of fame, your sims will be able to only get into low-end clubs and will get checked by bouncers unless you have other skills that can sneak you through, such as computer hacking, which can get you in through the back door. At higher levels of fame, not only will your sims be welcomed with open arms through the velvet ropes, but your sims may also be able to pick up some extra cash being a professional party crasher, taking in a little extra cash from nightclub owners to grace their parties with your presence and have your picture taken. This is not unlike certain Los Angeles-based starlets whose primary claim to fame is…showing up at parties.
Parties are important for making a little extra scratch in Late Night. For instance, if you're taking advantage of Late Night's new bartending feature, you can collect recipes from books and from skill advancements. Late Night has plenty of new and goofy animations for stirring, shaking, and mixing up advanced "juice" cocktails to serve for cold, hard cash. And if you happen to be in a band, your bread and butter will come from playing gigs. Fortunately, Late Night actually expands the range of instruments you can play beyond just electric guitars--you can also play piano, upright bass, or a drum kit (no Rock Band 3 play set, though). While your musically inclined sims can try to earn a little spare change outside the subway station playing alone (assuming they don't get mugged, which they can in Late Night), they'll make the most scratch playing a happenin' club.
So if you're in a band, you'll need to keep an eye on the local paper or your ear to the ground (talking to the town's movers and shakers) to make sure that you can play a venue that isn't totally dead. You get gigs from The Sims 3's opportunity system (so they'll pop up randomly)--we got one to play a dive bar downtown, so we used Late Night's new group system to get everyone there. This new system causes grouped sims to stick together when on the go and hang out with each other. This increases the likelihood that they'll stick together (rather than have the annoying tendency to wander off), and it also seems to accelerate the rate at which grouped sims grow closer because they're more likely to interact with each other continuously. They're also more likely to get involved in Late Night's new social activities, which include pub games like darts.
In any case, music groups can either use a jam session social action to practice their skills or they can use a full-on performance social to put on a show. While performing, sims can attempt to pull off a sweet move social in the middle of their set. With a high music skill, this will mean a dramatic guitar windmill that delights the crowds, but with a low music skill, your sims will likely fall on their faces and fail utterly. Not so good for their ego, but a humorous scene--and fans have been asking for more of these kinds of scenes.
As mentioned, Late Night will also let you play as a vampire, and as Rodiek explains, "they won't get all sparkly, like in Twilight--they'll have more of a soft glow." The producer described vampire sims as being "badass" and "powerful," primarily because although they can't survive during the day, they thrive at night with enhanced motives (The Sims' version of personal needs) that require very little maintenance. However, being vampires, they do need to drink plasma from other sims, and the best way to do so is to hunt for a prime victim.
Vampire sims can trigger a hunting social that causes non-vampires to appear as heat-generating silhouettes. Once vampires find a prime target with the best plasma, they then need to convince their target to consensually let them feed--an act that can be done gladly if the victim is a close friend (at which point the feeding looks like an affectionate embrace), or it can be done reluctantly, which causes the victims to grudgingly roll up their sleeves to allow for the act. Vampires have powerful mind-control abilities they can use to convince their victims, and they can also read minds--meaning they can immediately ascertain a stranger's entire list of traits, rather than having to chat him or her up.
In addition to all the clubbin' and vampirin,' Late Night will add more customization and building options to play with, including expensive new penthouse apartments that have limited size but can be tricked out with the absolute latest in high-end swank, such as a gigantic digital fish tank that hangs on the wall and a returning Sims favorite, the hot tub, which can seat up to four characters. In addition, you can expect to see plenty of new clothing sets and character customization that befit the social elite (and all those poseur wannabes), like draw-on muscle T-shirts, and new, more muscular body types for those who prefer to play as a spray-tanned muscle man. When we asked the producer whether the new body types had anything to do with the popularity of MTV's Jersey Shore, Rodiek replied, "We here [on the Sims development team] are all about The Situation." And oh yes, Late Night will add a much-requested breast adjustment tool for those who absolutely must increase their bust. So, yes…there's that.
Late Night appears to be a return to the classic open-ended Sims gameplay of schmoozing, building, and designing. The expansion will ship next month.