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Ambitions hands-on preview - part 2


Well, sorry to keep you guys hanging so long! Let's get to it!

Private Investigator

The private investigator profession might just be my favourite of all the professions included in Ambitions. You join the profession via the computer or the newspaper, and there are a few different ways to advance.

Obviously the main way to advance is to solve cases. You can find a new case by checking the newspaper or the computer to pick up your first lead. The cases work similarly to the adventures on World Adventures, but obviously these are based in the home hood. So if you liked the adventures, you'll love the cases.

A Private Investigator is never off duty. Wherever and whenever there is a case, the PI is there. If they can be bothered, anyway. Basically, you can work when you like. As each case progresses, your PI will be asked to perform various tasks to gain information. Maybe they'll have to rummage through someone's rubbish, or read their letters; maybe they'll even have to break into someone's house. There's no limit when you're searching for justice.

The cases your PI will have to solve have all the classic humour of the Sims series. During my time playing the game, my PI had a client who wanted me to discover who had been kicking over their garden gnome. After rummaging through someone's rubbish, they found a shoe which, shock horror, matched the footprint on the poor garden gnome. I questioned the owner of the shoe and they cracked like an egg. Garden gnomes all over Twinbrooks will be safe from now on.

But that's not all there is for PIs. You might just want to go and look for a case of your own. Find some dirt on one of your friendly neighbours by going on a stakeout. A Sim's idea of being subtle on a stakeout is, of course, hilariously misguided. What could be a better way of concealing yourself than grabbing a large bit of foliage in each hand and then hiding behind them? Surprisingly, though, other Sims don't seem to notice the new hedge on the block, and the large Sim holding it, and you might just uncover some valuable information this way.

When you've got info there are a couple of things you could do with it. You could write a report for the police, and get a reward that way. Or you could go for the big money... and blackmail the Sim you've got the dirt on.

Inventor (and self-employment)

There are a few new skills in Ambitions. Namely those are inventing, sculpting, and tattoo...ing. Two of those skills, like the skills in the base game, have an associated trait, and Sims with that trait will find that the skill comes naturally to them. Those new traits are:

Eccentric - good inventors
Savvy sculptor - good sculptors

I didn't spot a trait that makes Sims particularly good tattoo artists, and I did check the trait list quite carefully. Also, in my time playing the game I only got time to check out the inventing skill. I was too busy having a blast with the new careers, really.
Anyway, so you want to be an inventor huh? First, you'd best be heading down to the junk yard and digging through the piles of junk to get some scrap. You can't be an inventor without getting your hands a bit dirty.  You can only retrieve a certain amount of scrap from the junk piles each day, and you'll find that some of the junk piles have already been plundered. However, the ones that might still hold some useful scrap are clearly marked with a shiny sparkly effect surrounding them.

Once you've got your scrap, it's time to head home, and get working on your inventor's workbench. You bought one right? Your Sim will randomly play with the scrap for an extended period of time. They'll put bits together. They'll tut and pull them apart again. They might just set themselves on fire (either have family members ready to put your Sim out in this eventuality, or put a fire alarm in the workshop!). Eventually, they will make something. Maybe it'll be a sculpture, or a toy. It might even be something useful.

When you have one skill point in inventing, that's enough to prove your intent. You can head down to the town hall and register as a self-employed inventor. In practical terms, the main thing this will change is the fact that your career status will not say that you're "unemployed" when of course you are making an incredibly useful contribution to Sim-society. The ability to register as self-employed also applies to some base-game skills too, for example writing and painting.

Unfortunately, I didn't get to max out the skill. In fact my Sim's inventions were really of the lame and useless variety. The most useful thing he made was something that went on the floor and gave off a nice smell. Except it didn't seem to give any moodlets or anything, so it was pretty well useless.

Luckily, Grant showed us a higher level inventor in his demonstration, so we also got to see some of the cooler inventions. And yes, there is a Sim robot in this EP. It's called a SimBot. Like the Servo in The Sims 2, the SimBot is a part of the family, can Woohoo, do the cleaning and the laundry. And inventing isn't the only way to get the SimBot. For the inventing-challenged, there's also the option to buy the SimBot as a new life time reward.

Another particularly exciting invention is the time machine. Who knows who your Sim might meet as they travel into the past or the future? Maybe even a character from another EA game, but surely, surely EA wouldn't go in for such shameless product placement. Or maybe you'll run into Shepard from Mass Effect. I love Mass Effect.

Ghost hunter

There's a strange new kind of entity wreaking havoc around the neighbourhood. There are spirits on the loose. Luckily, your Sim is pretty business-minded and they've spotted the opportunity to make some money a mile off.

In the ghost hunting profession most of your jobs will involve going round to another Sim's house and hunting down some spirits. And then when you find them you can zap them with your big gun. Grant told us that as you get more skilled at ghost hunting, you might be able to talk them into leaving instead.

As you arrive at a job, the lot will be filled with fog and spooky music will be playing. All you have to do is look around the lot for signs of spirits. Spirits are a little different from ghosts. So don't worry, you're not going to be zapping away the ghost of your great aunt Betty. The spirits don't look like Sims, they look a lot more like Casper the friendly ghost, and just like Sim-ghosts, they are all different colours.

(Quick note: some of the pictures we've seen seem to show the ghost hunters hunting real ghosts, like the one on the right here. I'm not sure if this is because higher up the ghost hunter career you do hunt ghosts instead of spirits, or just because EA are using a bit of artistic license.)

When you "banish" a spirit, your Sim yanks out their big zappy gun, and sucks the spirit up. From there, the spirit appears in your Sim's inventory, and at this point they're just like any other collectable. You can find out a little bit about the spirit, like their age, and what kind of spirit they are ("friendly", "lonely", etc). You can collect them up, or sell them for a tidy profit at the science lab, to supplement your income.

In addition to these "normal" jobs, your ghost-hunting Sims will also get some sort of "special event" jobs at rabbit holes. These are pretty cool, because despite your Sim disappearing inside and going out of your control, a bunch of special effects appear around the rabbit hole, and it looks awesome.

It's the little things...

Despite all these completely totally fabulous new careers, skills, and gameplay, some of the little things included in this pack really made me go "wow".

Laundry

The first one is laundry. Now, when your Sim gets changed out of their every day clothes before showering or going to bed, the clothes don't magically vaporise. They fall in a little pile on the floor (although, all the little piles look the same, whether it's a dress or jeans and a t-shirt, but that's really not the point).

If your Sim is lucky enough to own a washing machine and either a dryer or a washing line, you can finally do the laundry. You can move the laundry to the machine, either by directing your Sim to do so, or by using the hand of god. Then you instruct your Sim to get the wash started.

Once the wash is started, you can place the cursor over the washing machine to see how much time it has left. It takes an hour to complete its wash cycle, and your Sim doesn't need to do anything else until the machine finishes. If you have a cheap machine, it might make a lot of noise, in which case your Sim can attempt to subdue it, which is quite amusing to watch. If they "win" their fight with the washing machine, they'll get a positive moodlet out of it.

Once it's done in the washer, you can get your Sim to move the laundry to the dryer or out onto the washing line to dry. And finally, when it's done there, you get your Sim to collect it, and the next time they put some clothes on or get into bed they'll get a positive moodlet from having clean clothes or fresh sheets.

Create-A-Style

Create-A-Style's capabilities are expanded in a couple of ways.
You will be able to use Create-A-Style on your ceilings, to further customise your rooms.
You will be able to use Create-A-Style on the edges of floor tiles, where they overhang a staircase, or on a balcony.

Create-A-Sim and tattoos

The new tattoo system is pretty cool. This isn't something you can do with Create-A-Sim when you first make a new family, so you need to head down to the salon or buy your own tattoo chair to get a tattoo. When you're ready, it loads up a Create-A-Sim style interface, where you can design and apply your own tattoos using a bunch of different elements. For example, you could layer up a pair of wings and a skull. You can adjust the colours and opacity of each layer on the tattoo, and choose where to place it. You can also save the designs you create, share them, and reuse them.

Things are a little different in Create-A-Sim too. Finally, you can adjust the opacity of your Sim's makeup, so you don't need to fiddle with colours for hours to get a subtle "barely there" shade of lipstick.
There are also a few more new traits that I didn't mention before:

Eco-friendly: eco-friendly Sims love to try and save the environment. They like to take quick showers. They love cycling and car pooling. They hate inefficient washing machines and riding in a car alone. They also always eat organic food (this isn't something you need to buy - just like vegetarian Sims will automatically use vegetarian sausage substitutes, eco-friendly Sims will automatically use organic food).
Born salesman/saleswoman: I honestly didn't check this one out, but I guess it probably gets your Sims a bit more money out of selling their stuff.
Perceptive: again, I didn't really check this one out, but the icon was similar to the one for the observant life time reward.

User interface changes

With the new EP, as well as with the base game patch that will be released at the same time, there are some small changes to the user interface.

Firstly... you know when your Sim comes home from work with a promotion at the same time as your toddler learns to walk and your kid brings a friend home from school and grandpa catches a really big fish? Suddenly the right side of your screen is bombarded with pop-up messages that fill up the whole screen and seem to take forever to get rid of.

In the new format user interface, these messages are sorted into three tabs for different types of messages. You can press "forward" and "backward" buttons to browse through them. You can keep the messages for as long as you like. And if you just want to get them all out of the way and play, you can click a button to hide them all at the edge of the screen.

Secondly, the opportunities pop-ups have changed. Now, instead of a popup with all the blurb, it also shows clearly what the requirements for the opportunity are before you accept it, and this same style of pop-up is used for most of the new careers. For example, when the Private Investigator gets a new lead, the "opportunity" pop-up will show an icon of the PI, with a thought bubble filled with some film-noir style blurb. Below that, there's the list of requirements that your PI must fulfil to move on.

So what's the verdict?

Well, I have, for a long time, been a real naysayer when it comes to "following your Sim around at work" and "doing laundry". I thought it would be dull, and tedious, and really annoying. I thought it would suck all of the fun out of the game. But after playing the game for just a few hours, and watching Grant Rodiek's demo, I am more excited for this EP than I have been for any EP, ever. Seriously. So if you're one of those people sat there going "oh it'll be boring, it'll be irritating, I won't use any of the new features, I'll just buy it for the robots"... then I think you will be not just pleasantly surprised but fantastically delighted. If this game could convert me in a couple of short hours, it could convert anyone.


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#25Jennifer_RMay 18, 2010

It sounds awesome! My sim will have a laundry, how cute. \:wub\: Can't wait to test out the PI ambition. It's about time that EA made a few adjustments to the create-a-style too, selecting colours can be quite tedious! Being able to browse the messages is kinda cool, but if our sims having a 'memory' that would be cooler. I really miss that feat from Sims 2. And still no hot tub. Oh well, guess we will have to wait a bit longer. \:\) Thanks so much Blackgarden, for the indepth review! \:rah\:

#26postileniVIPMay 18, 2010

Thank you for this fabulous review. I really can't wait.

#27kathy09May 18, 2010

Thanks so much for the review I can't wait to get it.

#28KesalMay 18, 2010

Thank you very much for the review. You've won me over -- I'm looking forward to Ambitions now \:\).

#29mysteryjack1May 18, 2010

Thank you very much \:D I can't wait, especially for the inventor and private investigator careers \;\) You were very lucky to get a taste of the game \:D

#30angels.diaryMay 19, 2010

omg i cant wait \:D
well done garden for this \:rah\:

#31SimonettaCMay 19, 2010

Oh this was great! Another brill review, well done. I really enjoyed reading this and I am excited too about this EP. I can't wait to use the Time machine and the fight with the washer sounds fun too.  \:\)

#32martoeleMay 23, 2010

Thank you for this extense information. Fantastic job. I wasn't really anxious about the new EP but now I've read this info.... I hardly can wait to lay my hand on it. \:rah\:

#33AnnaleighRoseMay 26, 2010

Awesome review, thanks!!!!!! \:D

#34gameliaVIPMay 31, 2010

Finally, we have laundry! Woot! \:rah\: \:rah\: \:rah\:

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