- 85 lots (Res 39, Com 46, 14 completely empty)
- Pre-populated with 50 Sims (not counting service/homeless).
- For: Base game
- Price: A gazillion simoleons.
Hidden Springs is an interesting - if comically overpriced - world now available in The Sims 3 Store. Like previous store offerings, it is a mixed bag. In some ways, it's very good. In other ways, it is drastically surpassed by what you can get for free from the CAW community. I'll start with the good, because that's a nice place to start:
Hidden Springs is an affluent alpine town, under a mountain and beside a lake. It features all the base game rabbit holes, including a beautiful new spa rabbit hole. It features a fountain of youth that can return Sims to the start of their age - ie. nothing new or special in terms of gameplay. This item is not there in the world when you load it, you'll need to place it yourself. In EA's usual, careless way there are no skill bookshelves in the library, and only 2 cribs in all the houses across the town. Oh god. I'm on the bad already. Quick! Back to the good!
Hidden Springs has a new distant terrain, which CAW users will be very pleased with. It's simple, dynamic, and mountainous: Perfect for alpine worlds. Unfortunately, it is not available in CAW by default, so like Riverview's distant terrain, it must be installed as a mod for builders to use it. The hidden terrain has a nice colouring, muted for its distance, which is a relief because - as we'll get to - the terrain colours of the world itself leave a lot to be desired.
The Sims in the world look good, they have unique airs about them and excellent flavour text - not so specific that it locks players into a story, but specific enough that the Sims have character and life. There are loads of Sims, there's a real sense of a little community, so EA have done that part very well!
The world comes with a host of new objects. There are lots of lovely build and buy mode objects, and even some CAW objects - the two "rustic barns" in the screenshots below - that will be fun to use in CAW
*once they have been extracted and rendered visible in the world builder*. EA have not made it easy for us again. These are available by default in the Metadata section of CAW! We're just missing that distant terrain, and that is as good a segue as any into the bad things:
Firstly, and most glaringly: The terrain paints in Hidden Springs are painfully oversaturated and cartoonish even for EA worlds. This terrain has not so much been painted, as it has been farted on by a seasick rainbow hand-reared on packets of jellybeans. From the map view this works, and it is clear that the palette was selected without enough consideration as to how it would look on the ground. That said, there are lovely terrain paints hidden in the world file, with excellent use of transparency, and it is a shame these are not allowed to shine more because of bad colour choices. This world is allegedly at a high elevation - it wanted muted colours, grey-greens that verge on blueish, tussock and scree, a sense of luxurious wooded heights. Instead we get the most hysterically oversaturated blue-greens EA could conjure, mixed terribly with bright flower terrain paints in some hidden areas presumably to create a "magical" effect. Instead the results look like a fluro finger-painting.
I should not forget to mention the sculpting: This world is really well-structured, with evocative, soaring heights. It is simply stunning in map view. (Edit: Although as matrix54 of MTS notes, the builders haven't used the space too well.)
There are no ini files in the world, so no difference in climate/weather/lighting to Sunset Valley or Riverview. Make of that what you will, given the cost of the world: 2500 simpoints. Yes, I repeat, a gazillion dollars.
There is a niche of players for whom this hyperactive palette will suit, and they deserve to have something, it's true. For them, this world is great, and I'm glad it won't go without an audience. It's just a shame that a world supposed to be "classy" and "magical" fails to evoke either of those qualities due to the palette alone.
Have I complained about the palette enough now? Too much? Yeah. Okay. Sorry. Here are the screenshots:
- Terrain - 3/10
A lot of great ideas here spoiled by a mind-blowingly bad palette, and lazy application of the paints. The sculpting is beautiful. The terrain paints used for details are spectacular, but you'll need to look very hard to find them among the lurid greens.
- Lots - 5/10
Most of the community lots are constructed well - simple and effective - the residential lots are also okay. A few very odd exteriors in this town, with unaligned, asymmetric buildings that don't look like they were meant to be asymmetrical. Still, the lots aren't too bad, they are baseline EA lots - nothing special, about as good as the average player could build, nothing near as good as a dedicated builder could.
- Sims - 8/10
The Sims are made well, although they are a tad pudding-faced sometimes. They're buoyed massively by good writing in their flavour texts. You could not ask for too much more in an EA world. Well done.
- Playability - 3/10
The world is definitely playable, and it has lots of trees. Lots are spaced out. Clearly optimised as EA worlds are liable to be. Good stuff. Missing cribs and skill bookshelves drags the score down one notch. Edit: This score was initially a 9/10, but was downgraded once I imported the world into CAW. There are holes in the derouting paint. Any NPCs that spawn in these holes will cause lag at they try to route to lots.
There also appears to be a disconnected road near the park in the centre of town. Despite all appearances, this road is actually connected.
Flavour Texts - 10/10
It's not really the humour of the text, so much as the fact that the characters of the world and the lots carry their individual stories really well. Top score here.
Finally: Thanks to the generosity of SimsVIP for gifting me this world, which I certainly would not have been able to afford! She and her site are community assets, so check her out at the link above!
Hidden Springs at the official Sims 3 Store.