The Sims 3 pretty faithfully recreates the Sims experience on Apple's handhelds, albeit in a more streamlined version. While the handheld port avoids a lot of the new complexity of the latest PC release, the core Sims experience is still here -- you can create a Sim, give it a personality and a house, and then help your little avatar live its life, from going to work to following goals and dreams to completion.
To a relatively new Sims player (I've never been a huge fan of the games), the variety of things to do here is pretty impressive. There's the usual tasks around your house -- eating, cleaning, sleeping, and so on -- but as you play, your Sim comes up with new goals to lust after, and it's your job to make sure those things happen, all while trying to preserve your Sim's health and sanity. For instance, just a minute into playing, my Sim suddenly got it in his head that he wanted to "use someone else's shower" (which seems like an exceedingly creepy goal to have, actually), but instantly I started thinking about all the things I had to do to complete it: go to town, meet someone, get invited to their house, and then somehow find an opportunity to jump in the shower.
I never made it ("can I use your shower?" is apparently not a good pickup line), but still, I was definitely impressed with the creativity of the goal and all of the different ways there were to do it. Your Sim can get cravings for doing all kinds of strange things, from making a certain food to having a certain item, to doing something extremely strange, and there are all kinds of ways to accomplish those goals. As a really streamlined experience of leading a Sim's life, The Sims 3 for iPhone delivers.
However, for big Sims fans, the experience might be a little too streamlined -- if you're expecting to do everything you can do in the regular game, you'll probably be disappointed that some of the features (multiple Sims, bigger purchases like cars and other houses, and life stages) are missing from the iPhone game. But those looking for a simpler way into the world of The Sims will likely enjoy themselves, and get a nice taste of what makes this game the best-selling video game ever made.
The Sims 3 is out now (it released just this week along with the standard versions) for $9.99 on the App Store.