Earlier this month, EA announced the release of the Aurora Skies expansion world for The Sims 3, giving Sims the chance to escape the hustle and bustle of big city life and take a trip to the sea in this quaint northern cottage town. We've now had a chance to go hands-on with the final product, and while the new Aurora Skies world is definitely beautiful, one of its biggest features - the hot air balloon - is actually a bit of a letdown.
The Sims 3: Aurora Skies is available in two versions. The cheaper version costs around $25 and brings you the picturesque town and the hot air balloon, while the more expensive Gold Edition will set you back around $40 and includes the above, plus the new Tiny Prodigies Early Learning Center, along with some premium items for young Sims.
Aside from this Learning Center, which is massive, the town of Aurora Skies is rather small. It comes with everything you'd expect from a vacation town, from tiny shops and entertainment venues to a scientific research center that sits on a basalt geothermal lake. The lake is fed by a gorgeous waterfall system, and the view is thankfully fairly unobstructed from the right side of town. If you move your Sim into one of these far homes, you'll be able to tilt the camera and catch the beautiful sky view over the mountains and waterfall, complete with steam rising from the lake (which contains options for swimming and fishing).
The pre-made homes in Aurora Skies are brightly colored with lots of reds and blues, and the Tiny Prodigies Learning Center is an even bolder splash of color. It comes with play rooms, art easels, rocking chairs and meeting spaces for grown ups or for Sims that just wish sit down with a good book, and even retro-looking computers for kids that are just learning to type. Is this building, along with the new toddler walker and play pen, worth the extra $15 purchase price for the Aurora Skies Gold Edition? Unless you're the type of player that has your Sims create massive families, we'd have to unfortunately say no.
And that's really the biggest issue with Aurora Skies: it simply feels too expensive. Even the hot air balloon is a bit of a disappointment. Instead of allowing you to watch as balloons fill the sky with Sims sightseeing from above, using it to travel is more of an instant warp process, and only if your destination has enough room to actually land the balloon on the ground. What's more, the balloon merely hovers a few feet off of the ground, making mid-air proposals and even mid-flight "whooping" between Sims less grand than it really should be.
Again, the best thing Aurora Skies has going for it is the expansion's setting. The waterfalls and beaches are gorgeous, and the new moodlets that correspond with these grand views give you an instant way to boost your Sim's mood. However, it would have been much nicer if the hot air balloon was incorporated more fully into the experience, and if the Gold Edition came with a feature that isn't only truly fun for the kiddies.
For more information or to download the Sims 3: Aurora Skies, head over to the official Sims 3 store.
Have you tried The Sims 3: Aurora Skies? What do you think of this beautiful new world? Sound off in the comments!