If you've never heard of, or indeed played The Sims, you've led a very sheltered life indeed. The game has not only won numerous awards and been translated into 22 different languages, it (combined with its first sequel, The Sims 2) has also sold more than 98 million copies since 2000. There are 100,000 videos on YouTube made using The Sims 2, and they've achieved over 200 million views. With figures like that, not only people, but entire sharemarkets tend to pay attention when the slightest mention of a further sequel appears.

It's been known for a while now that Electronic Arts would release further details of The Sims 3 at some point, so we're pleased to report today is that day. We've learned that The Sims 3 will feature a brand new game engine that has been under development for three years now - an engine that will allow you to immerse your unique Sims in an open living neighbourhood right outside their door.

The initial feature-set unveiled includes the new seamless, open neighbourhood, a new Create-A-Sim interface, new realistic personalities and a new form of unlimited customization.

EA has been kind enough to expand on these concepts for us, so let's take a closer look;

New Seamless, Open Neighbourhood - It seems that this new neighbourhood will allow complete freedom to your Sim. You'll be able to roam around and visit your friends, acquaintances, and enemies! You'll be able to travel to locations such as the City Hall and the local park, and meet a host of people as part of your daily journey. Storytelling options will multiply as you catch up with your friends, or perhaps bump into your boss when you've pulled a sickie...

The new Create-A-Sim interface will feature easy-to-use design tools that allow you to make truly detailed Sims that are more realistic than ever. You'll be able to tweak your Sim in ways never possible before, from thin to full-figured to muscular—everything in between and even the extreme! In addition to determining your Sims body shape and size, you will also be able to fine-tune every feature on their face, customize their hair style and select their skin tone, all from a vast selection of options. You can even make your Sim look like a famous character.

New Realistic Personalities make every Sim a unique person, with a distinct personality. EA has created a proprietary function they're calling the "Realistic Personality System", allowing you to attribute each character with five distinct personality traits (from a list of about eighty) which help shape your Sims behaviour and how they interact with others. You'll be able to literally create any type of personality you can imagine - EA have suggested the "nosy, inappropriate, kleptomaniac grandmother who loves to meddle in other people’s business", and the "commitment-phobic, hot-headed punk rocker whose rude nature and childish disposition keeps him from scoring a date" as valid possibilities. Indeed, those are just two of up to 700 million potential variants!

The Sims 3 will imbue you with Sims capable of going beyond their day-to-day mundane routine and showing their talents as distinct individuals with multifaceted personalities, who can focus both on short-term opportunities and long-term goals.

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