Ever since the initial announcement of The Sims 3, Sims fanatics have eagerly been awaiting one particular expansion pack. Pets. Because face it, people can’t resist cute and fuzzy animals with wet noses. It’s just something everyone -well, mostly everyone- is known to love and cherish. Thankfully, The Sims 3: Pets brings a mass amount of content and is easily one of the best and most addictive expansion packs in the series.

If you played the original Sims 3 on consoles, you’ll know EA did a fantastic job of porting the title and making it very accessible for console players. Pets is no different, and at times feels a little more polished in certain areas than its predecessor. The Sims 3: Pets isn’t just The Sims 3 with cute animals to play with. Instead, you live the life of your favorite pet. That means you’re in complete control over everything your pet does, just like a regular sim. First and foremost, you’ll have to create your furry little friend and the customization might just be deeper than you’d expect.

There’s well over 100 different breeds to choose from. If you purchase the game new, you’ll also be able to download ten exclusive breeds. However, instead of being actual breeds, they’re more or less “pet skins” for the current set of breeds. So if you want your Pomeranian to look like a Panda, or a German Shepard to look like a Tiger, you have that option. Once you select your breed, you’ll have most of the sliders you’d expect, but you can also create custom coats of fur and change the length of their fur as well. I was successfully able to closely replicate my three real dogs with a few minor altercations.

Once you enter the world of The Sims, things start to get interesting. If you create your pet as a puppy, you won’t be able to do that much. Once it grows to a full adult, you’ll be able to do anything you could image as a pet. Hell, both cats and dogs can get jobs. Yes, jobs. Want to be a lazy Sim, have your pets bring in the Simoleons? You have that option. Cats will serve as criminals who steal, and your dog can be a part of the police force. As a dog, you can also dig holes wherever you want and sniff out treasure. As a cat, you’ll be able to hunt prey and steal items. There’s even an achievement to steal something worth over $2,000. How a cat manages to steal an entire sofa is beyond me.

While that’s all fine and dandy, you still have to take on the responsibility of owning a pet. That means, feeding, bathing, showing love, or even teaching your pet tricks to perform a show in the middle of the park. Since the game primarily focuses on pets, don’t expect too much of a change in the actual sims department. There’re a few new customization options and objects, but most of the new stuff is all pet related. EA did however include some features from previous PC expansions. Being able to invent items like a Ghostbusters weapon means hunting ghosts can become a hobby. You can also go around blowing shit up for scrap metal. The Sims is finally going violent!! Just be careful, blowing up public parks can get you in serious trouble.

Karma Powers first introduced in the console version of The Sims 3 make a return with a few improvements as well as new ones. You can now apply upgrades to Karma Powers by completing certain goals in the game, such as making the power last longer. One of the new powers, Transmogrify, is easily one of the coolest as it allows you to transform a Sim, cat or dog into a different species. Don’t like the wife nagging you all the time or she won’t WooHoo with you? Simple, just turn her into a cat. All of these little changes and upgrades add on very nicely to the already excellent console port.

I’ve never quite figured out why The Sims is such an additive franchise. Maybe it’s because you’re always working towards a goal or a skill. Adding in the ability to take full control over a pet and live their life makes the game even more addicting than it was before. Having the freedom of doing whatever it is you please as a dog or cat is just so satisfying. Just make sure to not piss off your pet because they will run away, and you’ll be on a scavenger hunt. Good news is, if you’re successful, you’ll earn an achievement. Had EA chose to keep the original way like The Sims 2: Pets, the game would have become rather boring quickly.

Thankfully, playing as a pet is more fun than playing as a Sim. I had an incident where my neighbors dog would constantly come over to my house and dig holes in my back yard. Being the complete asshole that I am, I retaliated and went a step further. For every one hole they would dig in my yard, I would quickly switch to my dog and sprint over to their backyard. From there, I would dig about 10 holes, eat their dogs food, and piss all over their yard. Yes I’m mean, but it gets better. From there, I played in my own piss until I became smelly, than ran through my neighbors house. While my dog distracted the neighbors, I snuck my sneaky little feline in and scratched the living shit out of all their furniture. I could have even went as far as dropping a meteor strike on their house, but I decided playing in my own piss on their lawn was more entertaining.

The Mystery Journal is something completely new to the franchise. Here you’ll find a small, but lengthy list of mysteries to solve with different requirements. Dog Days of Summer for example, you must own a dog with a digging skill of level 2 in order to begin. Your main goal is to sniff out and find the smelly cat around town. From there you must locate the exact location and attack the smelly little fur ball. Other mysteries can include hunting things like pirate treasure, all of which can be paused and resumed when ever you feel like continuing. The Sims Exchange also makes a return where console players can upload their personal creations to share with the world, or download others. Aside from adding in Pets to the mix, nothing has changed here.

Being an expansion, the graphics haven’t changed much, but the color pallet used in the new town feels more vibrant than the previous town. The only real problem with The Sims 3: Pets is the loading screens. With the game installed, the load times themselves aren’t very long. But having a half a second load screen between switching from build to live mode is completely pointless and annoying. These quick little load screens appear constantly when switching between what should be seamless modes. It’s not a major issue, but it sure is distracting.

Overall, The Sims 3: Pets is a fantastic addition to the franchise and easily the most enjoyable thus far. It’s a shame the console versions don’t include cool features like creating and maintaining horses and minor animals like snakes, lizards and birds. Either way, if you’re a huge Sims fan, chances are you’ll end up purchasing the PC version anyway. For newcomers of the series, or gamers looking to have a very similar experience on their console, you won’t be disappointed. The lower price point on consoles is certainly welcomed, but some may feel even $50 for an expansion is a little much. Just know that once you pick up The Sims 3: Pets, you’ll quickly become attached and end up spending a lot more time than you’d expect. Which is always a good thing.

Here’s The Rundown:

+ Tons of content

+ More freedom when controlling your pet than you’d think

+ Playability on consoles is excellent

- Unnecessary short load screens

- $50 for an expansion might seem too much for some

- No horses on consoles

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The Sims 3: Pets was developed by EA Play/The Sims Studio and published by EA.  It was released on October 18th, 2011 on Xbox 360, PS3 for $49.99 USD, Nintendo 3DS, Nintendo DS, Mac and PC for $39.99 USD. Both the Xbox 360 and PC versions were provided to us by the publisher for the purposes of this review. Chris is still playing, mostly due to the fact that he loves to torture his neighbors and roll around in his own piss.