Recently I've paid a few visits to New Toulouse, mostly to check out Zoe Connolly's
new project, the Zoetrope Theater. While wandering around the squares and streets of New Toulouse, it struck me how realistic it all looks. This could easily be a place in one of those countless old, slightly decrepit European towns. Maybe somewhere in France, but it also strongly reminds me of parts of middle or eastern Europe as well. Places I've been in Poland or the Czech Republic for instance.
A while ago I had a similar experience in Caledon, the Victorian steampunk themed sims. Even without being explicitly English themed, those sims exude a distinctive English atmosphere.
This phenomenon is not limited to a single place or a single sim. Caledon is stretched out among many sims, some of them sparsely populated; New Toulouse also consists of multiple sims.
Mainland SL is a jumble, it's a mess. Or, on a more positive note, you could call it "an eclectic mix". There's no consistent experience; it's the office next to the brothel next to the clothing store next to the bar next to the residence next to the griefbuild next to the garden - it goes on and on. Beautiful, exciting and surprising, ugly empty and boring, all at the same time.
Compared to that, I prefer these themed sims. Adopting a theme, and sticking with it, allows for more harmony, a more consistent experience, both in visuals and in atmosphere - not to mention roleplay, if so desired. I think the full extent of what's possible in a world like SL is best recognized and experienced in themed environments like New Toulouse or Caledon.
So if you haven't been to New Toulouse, or Caledon, do yourself a favor and go check them out.
Any similar themed sims I should definitely visit..?