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The Sims 3 Original Videogame Score :: Review by Chris

The Sims 3 Original Videogame Score Album Title: The Sims 3 Original Videogame Score
Record Label: Electronic Arts
Catalog No.: iTunes
Release Date: May 26, 2009
Purchase: Download at iTunes


The Sims 3 aimed to be bigger and better than its highly successful predecessors in various ways. Although music wasn't the big priority of the game, Electronic Arts nevertheless intended to maintain high production values by hiring Steve Jablonsky, famed composer of the Hans Zimmer school known for his work on Transformers, Desperate Housewives, and Gears of Wars 2. Jablonsky created a range of light-hearted and unobtrusive music to fit the various scenarios of the game, including his own take on "The Sims Theme". The Sims 3 Original Videogame Score compiles 17 of these tracks into a 50 minute digital release.


Jablonsky nicely sets the tone of the soundtrack with a catchy orchestral arrangement of Mark Mothersbaugh's well-known theme for The Sims 2. It inspires plenty of enthusiasm at the start of the game with a blend of crisp ascending motifs and sparkling arco strings. Furthermore, it portrays the cultural diversity of the game with the alternating use of forces such as the drum kit, banjo, electric guitar, and even some quirky choral passages. Although unconventional overall, the pizzicato string use and general phrasing is very reminiscent of Jablonsky's main theme of Desperate Housewives. While the show is a favourite of mine, I'm not sure emulating its musical style is the way forward for the Sims franchise. Catchy, diverse, and silly, it's not surprising that fans have nevertheless really warmed to The Sims 3 theme.

The main theme is representative of Jablonsky's unconventional approach to instrumentation throughout the soundtrack. The score was recorded with a 40 piece strings and woodwind orchestra and choir while the rest is synthesized; this allows all sorts of additional instruments to be used transiently during the score and also adds to a slightly artificial and retro feeling to represent the idealised suburban environments. "Simmering Mallets", for example, seamlessly blends into the background with a simple combination of woodwinds, guitar, and tuned percussion. However, it takes a chance in tone from the 0:45 mark to represent the colourful scenery, blending the "ahhs" of a feathery female chorus against almost impressionistic piano scales. Another charming addition is "Verisimilitude", a laid-back acoustic guitar ballad that gradually incorporates sonorous keyboard and electric guitar melodies.

However, Jablonsky's reliance on his Desperate Housewives style is potentially a burden to the score. Some will find frivolous woodwinds and pizzicato strings fitting and endearing in "Maps & Simbols" and "Some Assimbly Required", but others will find them needlessly superficial and derivative. There are a few compositions that are clearly influenced by other approaches, such as "Consumerism Simplified" with its jovial festive vibes and "Aisles of Miles of Smiles" with its tacky dabs of romanticism, though the timbres still remain remarkably similar. There are also a few more rock-influenced themes such as "Fortissimo Personality" and "Amazing Facsimile" that add a little variety at least. Probably the most sincere moments of the soundtrack, however, are those focused on portraying mood. "Constructive Simicism" is particularly good at creating a serene mood with its electro-acoustic soundscaping and meditative clarinet melodies resulting in several highlight passages.


Jablonsky's score to The Sims 3 is mostly a fitting and enjoyable accompaniment to the game. His lyrical use of strings and woodwinds is at the heart of the peppy atmosphere of the game and the sporadic integration of chorus, rock influences, and other instrumentation adds much-needed variety and depicts more specific scenarios. However, the soundtrack was approached in an 'efficient but superficial' manner such that few pieces transcend even those of Desperate Housewives in terms of real creativity. As a stand-alone listen, the The Sims 3 Original Videogame Score serves as inoffensive background music and contains several likeable themes. However, it lacks the depth, variety, or melodiousness really needed to become a favourite.

Overall Score: 7/10