The Sims 3: Ambitions adds a few new things to the mix that you couldn't do in previous versions. It beefs up your Sim's career paths and options, including firefighter, chef, musician, athlete and artist. EA's also added the option to have babies in this new iPhone iteration. Other than that, however, The Sims 3: Ambitions is a streamlined affair with good enough but not astounding graphics, and, if you already play The Sims, a completely expected progression of gameplay. And for us, that progression is fairly addictive. The streamlined version of the full game focuses on the life and career of just one Sim, with a far more limited range of things you can do. Like the previous iPhone version of The Sims 3, life inside of a mobile device is a little more lonely than it was on the desktop: for some reason, my Sim finds less things to do with her time, has less friends, and spends a few minutes at the end of each day sort of just milling around waiting to be tired enough for bed. Fulfilling her whimsical wants (why she wants to kick over garbage cans has never made any sense) is a fun time-waster, but we've always tried to keep our focus razor sharp when honing our Sims, so hobbies have usually come second. Of course, my Sim is also learning to be a gardener. Since her chosen career path was chef, Charlotte (who is named after the author of Jane Eyre and has the honor of being my fourth Sim to bear this name) thought that gardening would be a fitting hobby to cultivate. I haven't yet gotten Charlotte to either the top level of her career or chosen hobby, but I'm fairly certain it's a goal I can achieve... and that's the whole point, isn't it?
For those unfamiliar with the franchise (if that's even possible), this new iteration is probably a great starter kit. For diehards like ourselves, the open-endedness of this is a great, enjoyable time sink, to be sure, but it's also a tiny bit disappointing. Obviously we don't expect the full features of desktop versions of The Sims 3, but we can dare to dream of a day when the iPhone version hooks into the actual game, allowing us a little midday peek into the more fascinating lives of our smaller, incoherent selves. Regardless, EA's glorious franchise loses nothing by wasting our precious downtime in yet another way, and while the mobile versions of The Sims may never replace their full counterparts, these games certainly push the limits of the 'casual' gaming category.