From The Archives posts are posts which I’ve carried over from my old blogs and sites I wrote for that are now offline so that I can keep a record of some of my better and more important work that would otherwise be lost. They come from the entire length of my time in games writing, so you’ll probably notice a big jump in quality between the really old stuff and the more recent content.
This was a preview of the Into The Future expansion pack for The Sims 3 which I wrote for Hittin' Crits. It was published in October 2013. I haven't collated many of my old reviews and previews here because I'm still writing those and have plenty of examples to provide, but this one was hilarious so I didn't want it to disappear.
A green lake surrounds a city of brown. Brown dirt laying across the land, brown buildings in decay, brown rags worn by children wandering around the trash-littered streets. The city's filled with an ambivalent population- they wander around, unshowered, in dirty, scrappy clothes. Trying to talk to them about cleaning up their act is a fruitless effort. Sorry guys. I broke the future.
Into The Future will be The Sims 3's swansong, the final expansion pack released before The Sims 4 launches next year, and as you can probably grasp from the title it will send your Sims into the strange new world of the future. The future is represented by the new world Oasis Valley, accessed by hopping through a time portal (a new item introduced by the expansion). On your first use of said portal you'll be greeted by a mysterious time traveller named Emmitt (not the only sci-fi movie reference I noticed!), who hands you the Time Traveller's Almanac, which doesn't give you the winners of horse races yet to happen and allow you to amass a gambling empire, however it does show what effect your actions in the present will have on the future. This cause and effect relationship isn't as in-depth as you'd dream (no sending an army of evil robots into the past to cause them to overthrow the human race in the future unfortunately), but the ways you can influence the future were a bit more substantial than I was expecting. More on that a bit later!
Upon getting the time portal up and running you'll be able to head, well, into the future. Oasis Landing is a much brighter place than most of the worlds in the game, with gleaming, metallic buildings making up most of the central plaza. There's types of lots that you'll be accustomed to by now- bars, stores, houses- but, being the future, they don't quite look or function the same. Transport is more advanced in the future as well- hover taxis can take you from A to B, with some more interesting modes of transport as well. A pod system can quickly pop you through tubes to another station, and a hovering monorail (is it a monorail if there's no rail? A negarail maybe?) is available as well. And, of course, there's jetpacks and hoverboards for a more personal form of transport too. You'll need to practice using these futuristic technologies to increase your Advanced Technology skill, or else your Sims will move slowly and occasionally crash.
Emmitt the time traveller will provide you with some tutorial quests to learn about everything the future has to offer, but you're free to do what you like. The first thing we all did was unsurprisingly to build some Plumbots. Plumbots are robotic Sims that you can program to behave how you like. Some people were building housekeeping bots to help around the house, but I'm a horrible person and decided to make a Plumbot that had human feelings, made them fall in love with my Sim, and then ripped out his Capacity to Love trait chip and replaced it with a Sinister Circuits chip. It was pretty funny because he was still in love with the Sim, but now didn't understand what love was and thus couldn't act on it in any way. Instead, his interactions were limited to evil ones because of his programming, and he would go around being mean to everyone. Plumbots made for a lot of entertaining scenarios like this. Different combinations of trait chips make for differing results, I walked up to a random Plumbot and changed his programming so that he was both sociable and afraid of humans at the same time, making him quite confused. Plumbots can be improved by training up another new skill- Bot Building. This will allow you to make them more efficient and use more trait chips, as well as allowing you to make Plumbots of your own using Nanites. I saw a Heisenberg Nanite for sale in the Plumbot Emporium, which I'm presuming makes your Plumbot a good cook.
Plumbots can be built from scratch and customised, getting their own Create-A-Bot menu, just like the Create-A-Sim. You can piece them together from different parts and colour them as well.- you can decorate them with a cat pattern if you like (we did, it was hilarious). They then function like Sims, however their needs are different, and they'll have differing interactions available depending on which trait chips they have installed. You can use Plumbots to help around the house, or go off and earn a living, making them handy to have around. You'll need a charging station to keep them recharged though, or they'll suck power from appliances you have around the house. This happened to one group present on the night- they couldn't keep up as their duo of Plumbots comically left half the house in need of repair because of their lack of a charging station.
You'll also be able to meet your Sims' descendants in the future. What kind of people they are depends on your Sims' circumstances in the present. By using cheats in the present to add money to my family's funds, the Almanac of Time showed that my descendants were now loaded. Though I didn't think to compare my descendants' house before and after the 'stimulus package', so I don't know if that was affected. The game said the size of the descendants' family and the descendants themselves could be changed by your actions in the present, but I didn't get around to testing this out. You can alter other aspects of the future as well. For example, you can bring futuristic technology back to the present and construct a legacy, being honoured with a statue in the future. One of the statues I saw was awarded by bringing a Plumbot to the present and upgrading it with sentience to be remembered as the pioneer of robotics. On a larger scaled, you can shape how the future looks, and how its citizens behave, by triggering certain events in the present. The future begins in a 'neutral' state, but you can send it on the path to being either a utopian paradise or a post-apocalyptic dystopia. As you can probably imagine, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to do the latter.
When your Sim gains the Advanced Technology skill, they'll be able to use the Almanac of Time to trigger a questline that will lead to a big outcome in the future. From what I can tell these will be the same every time. For me, I had the teenager in my family cause worldwide panic and ambivalence towards the environment, which made citizens establish a doom-sayer cult. Except the meeting he tried to attend was past his curfew, so he was always brought back home in a police car and nagged by his parents- "But Mum, I'm trying to destroy the world!" After about four or five Opportunities were completed, Emmitt appeared to tell us the future had been altered, but for some reason he didn't seem too happy about it. I ventured back through the time portal and saw the dystopia described in the opening paragraph- the place was desolate and run down, with lots of brown. All the citizens now had a 'Slob' trait and didn't shower. A lot of people walked around in dirty clothes, too. Meanwhile, in the utopian future someone else had created, everything was bright and colourful, with multicoloured trees and rainbows. Everyone walked around jovially similarly to how Sims do when Woo-Hooing somewhere other than their house. But my future had children in rags, so it was much better.
In addition to the new mechanics and features, you get access to futuristic furniture and items for your houses and community lots as well. Oddly you can buy all these in the present right away, so you could have futuristic houses and hover cars before even setting foot in the future. In my quick perusal of the Into The Future Collection I found some advanced versions of current appliances, futuristic transport, and some sneaky references (a chandelier called Tears In Rain? I see what you did there!)
Into The Future releases tomorrow, the 24th of October, on PC- be sure to keep an eye out for our review once we've gotten more time with the finished expansion!