As far as expansion packs go, University was, without a doubt, my favourite addition to The Sims 2, and for this reason I was eager to get my hands on The Sims 3: University Life!
It may sound cliché, but The Sims 3: University Life truly does offer a completely different experience. Apart from the odd holiday, how often are you able to send your Sim off to live a new life? And this is exactly what the University expansion pack provides for your character, a new life.
I was ecstatic to get my Sim off to her campus, but not before I had created her. The first thing that came to my attention with the creation of your family is that Maxis have made this expansion pack heavily young-adult to elder dominant, giving them the largest range of new clothes and accessories. It doesn't come as a surprise to me considering this is the age range that can attend university, though I do feel that Maxis have been slightly lazy in the clothing department. Most of the clothes that you can select from the 'Every day' section, are copied through to the workout gear, so if you like the idea of your Sims wearing the same clothes to bed, an important event, or even to go to the gym in, this would be ideal for you.
Onto the exciting stuff, the gameplay! I had jumped to the assumption that I was able to send my Sim straight off to university, though luckily a helpful tutorial message advised me otherwise. One of the new additions that I found made the experience all that more realistic was the option to take a 'University Aptitude Test'. This test does more or less what it says on the tin, informs you of whether or not your Sim is apt for their preferred degree, and how they can increase their chances of receiving a scholarship. I really like this addition to the game as it meant I could truly set my Sim up for her university life.
Once your Sim becomes a young adult, you can enrol them into university for one to two terms at a time (one term amounts to one in-game week) with a set amount of credits earned. These credits will then contribute to finishing their degree. A moving car will collect them and take them to the University Town, and from here you will have the option to live in a new house with possible roommates, a university dorm, or a sorority/fraternity. For the first two terms I played it safe, and moved my Sim into a dorm.
I soon noticed the differences between the dorms in The Sims 2 and The Sims 3 university expansion packs. Dorms contain larger bedrooms with space for up to two people each, but in return the number of rooms are limited to around eight, whereas The Sims 2 gave dorms a more realistic feel with many more, smaller and identical rooms.
Shortly after decorating my shared room, it was time to explore the town. In University Life there are three 'Social Groups', the Nerds, the Rebels and the Jocks. For each of these, your Sim can complete actions (even boast about their gamer skillz) to gain influence within the groups which is displayed on your Sim's profile, though you can spend your Sim's lifetime reward points on influence to gain popularity. When you reach the highest point within these groups you will receive career opportunities: Nerds can become video game developers, Rebels can be art appraisers and a sports agent career is available for successful Jocks.
Each student at the university is provided with a class schedule, the amount of classes per week and per day will be dependent on the amount of credits you selected in the enrolment process.
As my Sim attended the first class of the day, I was disappointed that I was denied vision inside one of the university buildings, as this left me with nothing to do but hit the fast forward button until finishing time, and once again when my Sim whipped out her bicycle to ride home (potentially a car if your Sim lives in a Sorority or their own housing), after a while this became a very repetitive gesture.
Luckily there aren't many buildings that you cannot see into in the town. I was happy to discover that I could watch my Sim in a lecture, have her ask questions and take notes, or even fall asleep. Other classes will take you to the main square of the campus where you can take part in class activities dependent on your degree.
In your spare time there are plenty of distractions around campus, Maxis have added in the traditional coffee shop where you can meet up with friends or simply grab a muffin before your next class, or bowling alleys if your Sim prefers not to attend a student house party each night but doesn't want to be cooped up in their room studying.
The Sims 3: University Life has put a large focus on social media, with the newly updated smartphone your Sim is equipped with, they can study, send text messages, blog, or even stream video straight from their mobile phone, and choose the option of famous blogger as their lifetime aspiration.
Although Maxis have incorporated an updated version of the mobile into their recent expansion pack, surprisingly your Sim doesn't have the ability to catch up with their parents and relatives via their mobile phone (you have to access them through your Sims relationships tab), or even visit. If your Sim belongs to a family that do not attend university, you cannot access their normal household whilst your Sim is at university, which I find a significant let down to this game.
University is well-known for its parties and nightlife, and this is something that your fellow Sims will not let you miss out on, with the two most popular types of parties being Juice Keggers and Bonfires. There aren't many fascinating additions to your general party set-up, a few games and miscellaneous objects won't spark a significant difference between your university parties and the regular ones. If your Sim is earning any more than 12 credits in a term, you will most likely be declining the five house party invites you receive per day to keep up with studying.
After the final exams are over, your Sim will receive a grade and return home, from this point you can enrol into university again either to complete your current degree with some more credits, or start a new one. Whatever the reason, the university experience will not be any different apart from potential class and accommodation changes.
If your Sim has completed their degree, it's time for a graduation ceremony! You're given the option to invite a few friends and family, however this ceremony will take place in one of those irritating buildings that we only have the option to wait outside of. I felt disappointed that I couldn't witness the highlight of my Sim's university life, though to hear the applause from outside the building put the cherry on the cake for me.
As soon as the ceremony is finished your Sim has time to linger around and talk to a few friends but is then sent straight home. Aside from your career opportunities within the social groups, when at home your Sim can upload their resumé and in return receive a specified job offer earning a rather large sum of simoleons per hour, and is left to carry on with the rest of adulthood!
Overall The Sims 3: University Life is a really entertaining expansion pack, it offers a lot more than a few objects and a few new actions to your game. It can also provide your Sim with a lot more in the long-run, whilst giving them a university experience to remember in the present. Although some features of the game didn't live up to my expectations, I still found it very enjoyable.
The Sims 3: University Life (Reviewed on Windows)
This game is great, with minimal or no negatives.
It may sound cliché, but The Sims 3: University Life truly does offer a completely different experience. How often are you able to send your Sim off to live a new life? And this is exactly what the University expansion pack provides for your character, a new life.