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Review: The Sims 3: Supernatural

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September 26, 2012

A quiet meal with your fellow ghouls

A quiet meal with your fellow ghouls

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If you have been enjoying The Sims, but have a hankering for a more unusual neighborhood, then perhaps it is time to upgrade your game with the Supernatural expansion pack. Do this and your new neighbors will make the Munsters look positively boring! The expansion pack is set in the decidedly spooky village of Moonlight Falls and while there are "normal" residents to be found, the place is also overrun by a variety of mythical and supernatural creatures. Best of all you can join their other worldly ranks.

You may have enjoyed playing as a ghost or genie when the opportunity arose in previous Sims expansion packs, but this time around experimenting with these characters is easier as you can play as them from the outset of a game rather than changing into one during a game. You can also play as a werewolf, wizard, fairy or, most menacing of all, a vampire.

This is because the “create a Sim” feature now allows you to design a vampire or fairy of your own fancy. The game also features a multitude of new clothing options and appearance modifiers to help you customize your fiend too. As you'd expect, these have a pretty dark, gothic look to them. Also, each character class has its own unique advantages and drawbacks, which certainly change the way the game plays.

Big brash and ugly

Those wanting to make a big first impression might opt to play as a werewolf. The "beast man" is amusing enough at first and his ability to shock and scare others with his transformation from man to hairy marauder is a decent party trick. However, before long you’ll discover the limitations of this class and the truth that the lycanthropes in this expansion pack make Michael J. Fox in Teen Wolf look cool!

The humble werewolf isn't the best when it comes to table etiquette

One advantage of playing as a werewolf is their skill at hunting for rare items as they can sniff them out. As such, they make great companions for wizards who can often use such items when making special potions. However, werewolves are also seriously handicapped by their unwelcome propensity for sprouting hair and going on a rampage every time the full moon makes an appearance.

The moon plays havoc with everyone

This happens regularly in the game and the lunar cycle does have an impact on other creature types too, but the werewolf is most hamstrung by it. Being in the middle of a task as a “normal” untransformed Sim and going on a crazed rampage in werewolf form can really put a dint in your day. Worse, it will often interfere with relationships you have with other unaffected Sim citizens too. The werewolf just doesn't give you much in the way of cool special powers and, apart from howling and causing havoc, there isn't a lot of payoff when you are in full fanged flight.

Flit about

The fairy is a much more interesting option. These critters are fast, have amazing abilities that they develop over time, and can perform some impressive magical tricks. At the most basic level, fairies have auras that add to their abilities too. For example, they have a permanent “green thumb” ability that renders them incredibly good gardeners.

The vain and flashy fairy is fun if you are a prankster

This might not sound like much of a big deal, but being able to help your garden flourish is actually quite tough in the game as roaming zombies, (which we'll talk about in more detail later), can trash any garden quicker than a horde of backpacking tourists on a big night out. Fairies can also perform pranks like making the toilet flush up out of the bowl to catch others by surprise. At higher levels, fairies can make people cough up money, burp involuntarily and they love to brag about their wings to their mates.

Fairies are even able to generate auras that help them learn faster or repair items. These winged pranksters are versatile, but not nearly as powerful as wizards or as malevolent as vampires.

Fangtastic

Vampires love to shock and surprise

Speaking of which, the vampire is a seriously sinister option well worth trying on for size. As you'd expect, vampires can bite unsuspecting Sims, “turning” them and creating a crew of bloodsucking pals. However, they can do far more than this. Vampires can beguile other Sims, (that's glamouring for you True Blood aficionados), controlling their minds, or zooming about the place as they are insanely fast. This can be perfect if you fancy a spot of sinister unseen lurking.

Also, while vampires were a bit hamstrung in the previous Sims expansion pack to feature them, (Late Night), you can now overcome this to some extent with "vampiric sunscreen." This lets you play during the day, even if you “sparkle” somewhat unpleasantly. Vampires are powerful in that you can manipulate and control other folks, but they still pale in comparison with the wizard class, as spell casters can perform far more grandiose feats than this.

Abracadabra

Alchemy is also fun to experiment with

The humble wizard (or witch, if playing as a female) may be a slow starter in the game at first. He (or she) has no natural magical ability and can only cast a few minor spells. That said, with training, a talented thaumaturgist can harness the elements themselves, firing blasts of fire at other spell casters in duels and turning unsuspecting Sims into ugly toads.

Wizards can also raise or banish undead and even transmute collectible items into other (more desirable) collectible items. As a final bonus, they are adept at riding about on brooms at breakneck speed.

Spell effects can be quite flashy

Magic users are by far the most powerful class in the game, as many of their spells render the basic day to day chores of a Sim unnecessary. Why bother to tidy up a house or feed yourself when you can cast spells that care for both needs easily and in far less time?

Wizards, with their zombie controlling abilities, can also be very useful when the full moon wreaks havoc and wakes the dead who then roam the area trashing gardens and making a huge mess.

For the slow movers out there

Not your average suburban scene

Finally, you can also become a zombie by being bitten by other undead or if you are stupid enough to drink a "zombification" elixir. This is far from a rewarding option as you are limited to shambling about trashing the neighborhood and trying to bite people. Playing as a zombie gets boring fairly quickly and there is no real point to it, so you feel like you are being punished when it happens. Thankfully, it is usually temporary as you can be cleansed of your affliction and revert to your usual state.

Supernatural also features a completely new career option. You can choose to become a fortune teller. As was the case in previous games, this is yet another of those jobs you'll be able to select, but then never really get involved in as it happens when your Sim is away at work.

There are some after work interactions and you can choose to be either a genuinely gifted clairvoyant or a charlatan, but the new career arc is simple. If you are after a more engrossing exploration of work life you are much better off with the Ambitions expansion pack, which is more focused on the world of work.

Supernatural is one of the better expansion packs for The Sims 3. There are tons of new items and buildings for you to play with as well as the new characters.

That said, the lunar cycle can really interfere with the flow of the game. For us, the neighborhood goes a little too berserk when the moon is full. As a result you can spend a lot of time repairing the damage with no actual reward. So you tend to dread the full moon as an inevitable nuisance with no upside. It would have made more sense to reward you with skill development or mood domain bonuses when you cope more effectively with the lunar mayhem.

Too radical a departure?

More serious is the fact that Sims fans may also find that some aspects of this expansion pack tend to override the core game experience. Certainly, many of the magical feats now possible in Supernatural render the more mundane skills, usually so treasured in the core game, somewhat irrelevant.

Vampires might look civilized, but they are fiends at heart

You can return your town to a more normal state by turning off the supernatural characters while keeping all of the new items if you are wanting to indulge in more traditional play from time to time. However, by doing so you have proven to yourself that, for you at least, the expansion pack really doesn't work well as a part of the original game. So in essence, Supernatural will please some Sims fans while annoying many others. It depends on how much change you are willing to accept when looking at the game's original blueprint.

If you like the sound of a really nutty experience with as many hilarious horror movie clichés as possible then Supernatural is unique and entertaining. That said, some might find it is just too weird.

Score 7/10

All images provided courtesy of Maxis

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