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Expect Twinbrook to be prone to flooding in the next expansion; The Sims 3: Natural Disasters

Ambitions is the second expansion for The Sims 3, following on from the World Adventures pack. Both expansions have focused on adding more genuine "game" elements to an otherwise unwinnable sandbox. World Adventures did it through giving you quests to explore ancient Egyptian tombs but Ambitions does it with "professions" - not to be confused with the existing "careers" despite the inherently confusing nature of their choice of words.

Derision aside, I really like what they've done here. The game's blurb promises that Ambitions gives you the opportunity to control your sims while they're at work for the first time. What they've delivered isn't exactly as far reaching as that statement indicates but it's technically true. The old, existing careers work exactly as they did; your sim scoots off in their car and you don't see them until office hours are over. The new professions, however, are entirely hands-on. You can be a firefighter, private investigator, tattoo artist, or an architect but as a Game-Debate.com reader I suspect that you'll be more interested in Ambitions' Ghost Busters and Back To The Future homages.

The Ghost Hunter (not Buster, definitely not Buster) profession kits you out with a jumpsuit and proton gun and sends you off into the night to talk the town's spirits into passing on to the next plane or, if that seems too diplomatic, shooting them until you end up with a jarful of ectoplasm. In practice you're still just clicking on items in the world as you would if you were having your sim perform household chores but there are clear missions objectives, time limits, and most importantly it feels like a game you can win or lose.

The Inventor profession isn't mission based like the Ghost Hunter but does follow its new "experience" mechanic for promotion and progression. At your work bench you will turn junk yard scrap into toys, widgets, and machines to sell on for profit or keep around the house for your own amusement. The further you get up the career ladder, the more extravagant the inventions you can come up with. Eventually you can build a functioning time machine! Unfortunately you don't get to see or play in the far future or distant past but the game does well to create a story of what happened on your sim's temporal trip through text summaries, moodlets, and items that are brought back. My mad scientist managed to come back from the future with a guitar and some very sci-fi new clothes after a trip that nearly saw him sucked out of a space ship's airlock.

The other major addition in this expansion is a new neighbourhood to add to the one The Sims 3 shipped with and the second downloadable town. Twinbrook tragically isn't the Twin Peaks copy the name had made me wish for (get on that please, modders!) but it is an interesting change of pace. It has the usual urban areas and all of the necessary focal points for careers and community activities but it also has a bayou with a bunch of little, wooden shacks. A nice alternative to the typical brick houses.

Veteran GD readers might remember an aborted attempt at a review of the previous expansion last year. That never quite happened because I couldn't get the bleeding thing to run for more than 15 minutes at a time. It even foiled attempts to see enough of the game for a review by saving every five minutes with its tendency to corrupt save files. I'm pleased to say that Ambitions is much more stable on release than World Adventures was but it's still not as good as it should be. I've probably spent around 15 hours in Ambitions and I've had two crashes. You can do worse than that with PC releases these days but even one crash is too many as far as I'm concerned, and it really angers me when huge companies like EA let a game go to stores in this state.

That one issue aside, this is a good expansion to a great game. I use the word "game" very deliberately because the two expansions have made The Sims 3 more of a game than perhaps some gamers would give it credit for. If you're already a Sims fan then this is definitely a worthwhile addition to your install. If you've written off The Sims as a kids' game or a virtual dollhouse then I'd suggest that it's now worth taking a look at to see if you're pleasantly surprised. The way the series is going certainly makes it feel less like a guilty pleasure for me.


Meet non-copyright infringing ghosts, Gooer and Mucuser