The Sims 3 Island Paradise Review: A Relaxing Vacation Year-Round

The island paradise theme isn’t entirely new to the Sims franchise.  In the original Sims, Vacation plopped you into a beautiful vacation spot for you to enjoy.  In the Sims 2, Bon Voyage sent you to one of three awesome locations, including a tropical flavored area.  The Sims 3,  however, has made the experience more real than ever.  The addition of new features that have never been seen, as well as skillful rehashes of old favorites, make the game fairly enjoyable.

Island Paradise Gameplay

Island Paradise takes advantage of the theme with excellent new gameplay features.  Primary on my list of favorite features added in this pack is the houseboat.

The houseboat feature adds an entirely new way to develop a house.  There are several options for houseboat sizes and shapes, including barges and curved bow boats for you to build a nice small (or tall) home upon.  There are talks of people having built homes as tall as seven stories on their houseboat.  While this may not sound entirely safe, it’s certainly allowed within the constraints of the Sims build mode engine.

island paradise

The houseboat allows you to move your home wherever you desire, even abandoning terrestrial bounds and living entirely out at sea.  While the houseboat is away from port, everywhere your Sims want to go, they may get there using their own regular boat, or use the free taxi boat to get them to shore, where they take a normal taxi to their destination.  Drive your houseboat to any one of the nearby dive spots to practice your scuba diving (especially if they have the new Loves to Swim trait), or move it near the shore of your job.  Normal boat options abound though (and are enjoyed by your Sims if they have the new Sailor trait), so if you can afford one, they add a lot to the immersion of living in the new Island Paradise region.

island paradise

With that said, a feature that was added in the most recent base game update is the ability to move your Sims’ families to other towns.  No longer are you tied to the neighborhood you select at the beginning of the game.  In context of Island Paradise, this means that you can move your long standing family with millions of Simoleons to the most desired location in the Sims world.  Buy a mansion with boats and sports cars to zip around the islands.  Buy a houseboat and deck it out with the best furniture and newest appliances.  Buy more houses.  Yep, that’s right, you can now purchase extra homes as well.  How this will work with the roommate feature is yet to be discovered, but it seems like it could make for rentals to be a possibility.

Continuing on, Island Paradise adds a new active profession as well: Lifeguarding.  Playing as a lifeguard, your Sim heads to whichever beach he/she is needed at and performs typical lifeguarding duties (surveying, talking to beachgoers, and of course, saving lives).  Your progression criteria are related to your Athletic skill, your charisma, and how may people you save, respectively.  This fun feature lets you earn money while relaxing on the beach, at least until disaster strikes.

island paradise

As you progress in the profession, you’ll discover an uncharted island, your first of many.  As uncharted islands are discovered, you gain control of them as if they were your own property.  With them you can build houses, vacation or even…

Build a resort.


Island Paradise has several options for getting into resort management.  There is a resort in Isla Paradiso that is in dire need of new management.  So dire that the government is willing to let you take over, free of charge.  This is a great way to make money.  So great that it seems very unbalanced compared to the time required to improve the resort.  It takes less than two weeks, if you pay close attention to reviews, to get a resort up to nearly five stars.  Resort-goers demand things such as hot tubs, pools, bars, buffets, and gyms to keep them entertained during their stay.  Of course, another option is to buy a lot and open your own resort, or to buy a successful resort from the owners.  The feature is in depth enough to feel like you’re doing something to affect the resort, while not being so microscale that you get bored or overwhelmed with the management.

Island Paradise Content

The game adds content befitting the theme.  New clothing adds a tropical flair: a mix between Hawaiian, Brazilian and Mexican that makes the environment that much more immersive.  The boats are well designed and move convincingly through the water.  Ladders and spiral stairs give a good, compact way to go from floor to floor on houseboats or other tight quarters.  Beachy design features let you decorate your waterfront property properly.  You heard that right.  Property can now be purchased or placed bordering the water.

island paradise

One of the most convenient objects added in Island Paradise is the all-in-one bathroom.  This is a shower/toilet that relieves both motives quickly and at the same time.  Beware though, it is more expensive than the other options in the game, so only grab this if you want the convenience or need to save space.  Not to mention, it isn’t necessarily the most attractive appliance in the game.


Island Paradise adds two new radio stations: Beach Party and Island Life.  Beach Party contains spring break style pop and hip hop songs, while Island Life adds tropical tunes (making good use of the steel drums).


island paradise

One word: stunning.  If your machine can handle running the game at max settings, the textures and art styles of the island are beautiful.  Bright colors and sparkling blue water make the island setting stand out from every other location in the game.  I can’t imagine wanting my Sims to live anywhere else.

Replay Value

The standing quality of the Sims franchise is the strong replay value.  Considering the customization options and random nature of much of the new features added, Island Paradise continues to add more replay value to the base game and other expansions.

Final Thoughts

Island Paradise, through all its strengths, does still have quirky faults.  While I know these should be expected at launch of most triple-A titles nowadays, it is still a downer when you find them.  Gamebreaking bugs like attempting to download new content from the store in game crashing the game when you try to return is a big problem, especially for a game with no autosave feature.  Bugs like this cost the gamer hours of time and progression when they aren’t in the habit of saving often.  While I realize it is recommended to save often, if the game is enthralling enough to hold my attention, I tend to forget to save.  I know this is an issue, at least in my household, as siblings often run into the same issue.  One recommendation is to never tab out of the game, but that shouldn’t be necessary.

The game overall, minus bugs, was well worth the purchase price, not only of the expansion, but of the base game as well.  If you are in the habit of saving often, this is certainly the game for you.  If not, expect to enjoy this game thoroughly, at least until it crashes or freezes on you.

This game was reviewed after more than 12 hours of gameplay, seven hours of which can be seen below.  It was reviewed on the PC.

Gameplay Footage

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