The Sims 3: Into the Future – Limited Edition – PC
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Developer: The Sims Studio
Release Date: Oct 22, 2013
Genre: Simulation
Reviewed by Mahamari Tsukitaka

Review Score: 4 of 5

The Sims 4 may be on the horizon, but EA hasn’t forgotten about The Sims 3. To keep us busy until fall 2014, the eleventh expansion for TS3, Into the Future, throws in new sci-fi-themed content and allows your Sims to time travel to and from the distant future.

Into the Future introduces time travel and the future to the base game in a surprisingly natural way, by triggering an event that causes a time portal to spawn somewhere on your active family’s home lot. A Time Traveler character, who’s been stranded in time, drops out of the sky with the portal and starts the wholly optional quest to fix the time portal and begin exploring the expansion’s content.

If you’ve played earlier expansions like World Adventures and University Life, you’ll find some similarities here. The new objects and Create-A-Sim options (like new clothes and hair) are readily available, but to experience most of what the expansion has to offer, you’ll need to reactivate that portal and send your Sim to the future city of Oasis Landing—which is similar to the vacation towns in World Adventures or the college town in University Life, in that they’re accessible from any game, but it doesn’t appear you can start off with your family living there. There’s also at least one location slightly reminiscent of World Adventures’ dungeons.

Unlike World Adventures and University Life, however, your Sims appear able to come and go as they please, and they can stay in Oasis Landing for as long or short a time as they like. The Time Traveler gives tips and easy quests to help you and your Sims get acquainted with the new content—and this can be skipped easily if you decline these Opportunities, if you’d rather not be led by the hand. I also like how the Time Traveler’s Opportunities come in chunks, so it’s easy to ignore them, or you go to him and ask to assist with his research for more quests whenever you like.

The advanced technology of the future is pretty nifty and includes a bunch of time-saving sci-fi staples, like hoverboards, food synthesizers, jetpacks, and holo computers. These newfangled gadgets require a new skill, Advanced Technology, to use well, and it’s entertaining to watch your Sim go from falling off his hoverboard to eventually riding it like a pro. Veterans of the game will probably also be pleased that some mundane tasks, like cooking and showering, can now be done almost instantaneously.

My favorite feature, though, is probably the Plumbot, a significantly more advanced version of the earlier introduced Servo or SimBot and the new Sim type introduced in Into the Future. Plumbots can be bought at a store in Oasis Landing or built by a Sim with a high enough level in the Bot Building skill. They’re highly customizable—almost as much as regular Sims—and their personalities and capabilities are defined by Trait Chips, which are also bought or made by a Sim through Bot Building.

Trait Chips help define what the Plumbot’s priorities and abilities are. For instance, a RoboNanny will prioritize childcare and be capable of all childcare interactions, Fear of Humans will cause the bot to run or “leak” when encountering regular Sims, and Sentience unlocks more needs and the ability to have a Lifetime Wish and to receive opportunities. Depending on the skill of the bot creator, a Plumbot may have more or fewer Trait Chip slots—and fortunately, they can be upgraded through maintenance. I enjoyed building bots and adjusting their personalities the most out of the new features.

Into the Future does throw in some cause and effect between the present and the future to play with. There are a total of three future states: normal, dystopian, and utopian. These states can be triggered from the Almanac of Time, a new journal in the menu that allows you to trigger quests to cause the future to change, keep track of your descendants, and view the available legacy quests you can complete in the present to be recognized with a statue in the future.

The different futures do offer some different features to explore, such as trash piles to rummage through and underground rifts (rabbit holes, unfortunately) to explore for treasures in the dystopian future and rainbow knolls to dig up and giant flowers to milk for mood-affecting dew in the utopian future. Your Sims can also track down and meet their descendants, whose traits, appearances, family wealth, and family size depend on your Sims and their actions in the present.

It’s too bad that these possibilities weren’t further developed. It was fun to see my Sim meet her part-alien descendants and befriend them, but they interacted almost like any other Sims after that. Similarly, the three Oasis Landing versions have some fun visual differences, like smog, trash, and smelly Sims versus rainbows, giant flowers, and strutting Sims, but other than a few unique interactions here and there, there’s not that much to distinguish the three futures. I would have liked to see a more divergent landscape, depending on the future created, as well as more different activities and effects on your descendants and the town.

As usual, I also encountered a few troublesome bugs, though I’ve come to expect those, considering the complexity of the game. On my first run, I started a game in Isla Paradiso (the Island Paradise town), and because my Sim family lives on a houseboat, the time portal spawned in a random inaccessible location that I then had trouble finding, and the Time Traveler’s quest didn’t trigger. Later on, I had lights disappearing, random non-player Sims being marked as Creation (as if they were a Plumbot) in relation to my Sim, and multiple Sims in the family being selected as active at once, causing all sorts of trouble that forced me to restart the game.

That being said, Into the Future is still a very enjoyable expansion for a Sims 3 fan. It provides a persuasive sense of exploration and discovery when your Sims travel to the future for the first time, and as I mentioned earlier, tutorial Opportunities trigger at helpful and natural times to introduce you to the new content. The graphics and sound are also at the same quality as the original game content, and the new fashion choices—while perhaps not as varied as I hoped—are interesting and pretty out there, reminding me of The Hunger Games’ Capitol couture. The visual design is pleasant overall—kind of like Apple meets The Jetsons. You’ll also find more of the trademark Sims humor: I even found a Blade Runner movie quote tossed in there.

Overall, if you enjoy TS3 and science fiction, you’ll probably get kick out of adding Into the Future to your collection. The quests are a bit easy, and some of their excellent ideas leave me wishing they’d been explored in more depth. The new objects and customization options, while great additions to the game, could also always offer a wider selection. Still, it’s plenty of new content, and I’m glad to see that the gameplay adapts some of the feeling of travel and adventure from earlier expansions and creates a smoother experience requiring less awkward shower spray use and providing an optional guided tour.

At $39.99, Into the Future goes for about what expansion packs cost these days and offers enough new content to inject new life and freshness into a game going on its fifth year. The Limited Edition is available for the same price and includes an extra Quantum Power Pack, which includes a hibernation chamber that puts a Sim’s needs on hold indefinitely and a power suit that stabilizes a Sim’s needs and allows him to teleport and scan for collectibles. For the price of four movies or four lunches, if you’ve enjoyed other TS3 expansions, I’d say The Sims 3: Into the Future is a decent choice for your entertainment money.