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Is playing as pooch all it's cracked up to be?

As followers of the popular simulation series no doubt know, in two weeks Sims 3 is going to the dogs. Sims 3: Pets will be available as an expansion for PC and as a full retail release for 3DS, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.

I recently had the chance to spend some time with the 3DS version and see what new tricks this old dog's learned. As advertised, the main shtick behind this release is the ability to play as your pet. There's a wide variety of ways to customize your cat or dog, with more than 40 breeds of dog to pick from and more than 20 breeds of cat. Everything from gender to fur color to accessories can be tweaked to your liking, allowing you to create whatever cute companion or kooky creation you see fit (a la the winged, tiger-striped kitty with a top hat I made during my demo).

The game also lets you pick your pet's personality and assign it life goals, so you can have your pooch be tidy and aspire to WooHoo with other canines ("WooHoo" is Sims speak for "get it on"). Outside of that, this is a pretty standard Sims affair. You can guide your pet to do all the normal daily activities animals do, teach them different skills and tricks and develop different relationships with different people/animals.

As a 3DS exclusive, you also have the ability to create a pet-only household, where you can teach your animals to live their lives without a human caretaker. If you're a fan of the franchise, and of making animals do funny things (like watch your cat freak when you make them walk under the sprinklers), Sims 3: Pets should be a solid choice.

The game hits store shelves on October 18.