Review: The Sims 3 Seasons brings good cheer

Since its release in 2009, The Sims 3 has seen a number of expansions and add-ons to enhance its core gameplay. Over its course, we've seen pets, new traits, items, clothing, careers, and even supernatural creatures all added to the game. In short, the game basically has it all. But until recently, The Sims 3 has lacked one vital feature: seasons.

The Sims 3, which prides itself on being the most in-depth simulator on the market, has missed out on the one key element of every day life: weather. Is it only me, or does it seem a bit strange that the game has received zombies and fairies before snow and rain?

Regardless of the reasoning behind the release timing, The Sims 3 Seasons and the weather patterns that accompany it are now here to stay. Well, that's if you don't turn the feature off. But having played The Sims 3 Seasons and experiencing weather in the game for the first time, I can't imagine this game existing without it anymore. It's quite amazing how the simple element of weather can change a gameplay experience, but that exactly what The Sims 3 Seasons has done.

Sims 3 Snow

I'll admit, the past few expansions have been somewhat disappointing for me. New clothing, new traits — it all just seemed like extra stuff that didn't add any real value to the game. Sure, the same thing could be said for Seasons, but the simple fact is that the game has been totally revitalized with the addition of weather. It's not just random rain or snow; seasons in The Sims 3 has added a sense of purpose to time, aside from aging.

In its default, the seasons change every seven days. This can be easily adjusted in the options menu, but I found it to be a pretty reasonable amount to time. Everything relating to weather is fully customizable. You can adjust the amount of time each season lasts and even remove a season all together. Not a fan of the weather that accompanies the season? Rather than force you to sit through rain, you can turn it off. 

Honestly though, after experiencing the weather effects, I wouldn't. The thunderstorms, though occurring more than I would like, are really fascinating to watch. EA has put an incredible amount of detail into the effects, to the point that you can see each drop of rain fall from the roof of the house. Though it looked great on my computer, I can see how those with an older PC might have trouble running some of the effects — especially since The Sims 3 has been suffering from memory problems for the past few add-ons.

Sims 3 Seasons rain

Aside from weather changes for each season, you now have a dedicated "Leisure" day. This is simply EA's politically correct way of representing the most recognized holiday for that season. For spring it's Easter, summer it's like the 4th of July, fall it's Halloween, and for winter it is Christmas/Hanukkah. During this day, which you are given off from work for, you can attend the season's festival.

Any world that you're playing in features a unique festival during each season filled with tons of new objects and events for you to experience. During the summer, you can compete in the annual hot dog eating contest, or you can carve a pumpkin during the fall. With it being the winter season now, you may find yourself skipping towards the snowball fight.

There are other activities you can perform during the seasons, as well. You can decorate your house with the appropriate seasonal decorations, go on an egg hunt, bob for apples, and — for the first time ever — swim in the ocean! There are plenty of new activities to keep you busy in The Sims 3 Seasons.

Sims 3 pie eating

Of course, seasons do come with a price. New to the game are allergies and colds. In the spring, those who have allergies and spend their time outdoors risk the chance of getting the new Allergy Haze moodlet, causing them to sneeze and blow their nose. This is easily treatable with a quick visit to the hospital, but it's also a trip that's not really needed. Why can't I just enjoy the seasons without having to worry about the consequences that accompany them in real-life? The same is said for the chance Sims have of catching a cold. It's just a hassle.

Speaking of hassle, Seasons has added a brand new Blueprint Mode that lets you place fully furnished blueprints of a room on the ground to quickly build a brand new house. One of the best aspects of The Sims 3 is the house customization, but as everyone knows, this is also the most time consuming. The blueprint allows you to place the basic house foundation and then go back and tweak it to your liking. Needless to say, I still spent hours on my house. Hey, if I can't have it in real life, why not in a game?

As expected, The Sims 3 Seasons adds your accompanying furniture, songs (though there aren't holiday songs, there is are short 'musical phrases'), and clothing to let you dress for the occasion. I recommend an umbrella for when it rains and snow gear for the cold, or else you'll be stuck with a very unhappy Sim. I would have liked to see some more Create a Sim options, however.

Overall, The Sims 3 Seasons is one of the best expansions the game has received in quite a while. The simple addition of weather adds a breath of fresh air into the now three-year-old game. The only problem is now that we have seasons, where does EA go from here? I suppose that's part of the fun with The Sims 3; you never know what you're going to get next. Let's hope it's not a cold during the Holidays. Remember to bundle up!