The Sims 4
It’s hard to think that there are gamers among us who have never played a Sims game. It’s almost like a rite of passage into gaming maturity when you think about it. Not only does it offer a funny experience that stars you, your family and your friends, but it also teaches real-life responsibility, time management and even elements of strategy that are integral in real-life and games.
The Sims was originally released in the year 2000, and while compared to newer entries in the series it might feel extremely basic (especially from a visual perspective), it took the world by storm. The last game in the series, The Sims 3 was released in 2009 and while it had plenty of life still in it, Maxis and EA really wanted to take advantage of both their extensive experience and modern PCs to deliver the best Sims game yet.
It could not have been an easy task developing a follow-up to The Sims 3, and difficult decisions must have had to have been made. Why am I saying this? Because despite the Sims themselves looking the best they ever have and behaving both amazingly realistic and at other times hilarious, the lack of some features makes me wish there was just an eensy bit more development time. For the record though, I still feel that The Sims 4 is a fun game, just don’t expect to be freely roaming around your neighbourhood discovering hidden treasures with a dog just yet.
When players begin The Sims 4 they will be required to create their first Sim or family of Sims, as per usual. There is a plethora of customisation options available, though admittedly it offers more modern, trendy and hipster-friendly options than previous games. This is both a good and bad thing, as I was able to make myself (I absolutely fall under the label of hipster) by selecting a newsboy cap and Ray Ban Wayfarers-style shades. Creating older people (such as your grandparents) will prove a challenge, as they are pretty much relegated to wearing extremely unflattering floral dresses or the stereotypical polo shirts and cardigans.
Creating a Sim’s facial features has been made more accurate than ever before, thanks to the easy “Detail Edit Mode” that is accessed at any time during the creation process. Need more or less love handles? Do you have big shoulders but skinny arms? Tweaking every single feature imaginable on your Sim is as simple as clicking and dragging with the mouse. I find most games just don’t have enough options to make myself, but The Sims 4 has one of the best avatar creators I’ve ever seen, almost on par with WWE 2K14. You can also “play with genetics” and create another family member based on the genes of your current family members. Always wanted a little brother or sister? Click the play with genetics icon and go nuts.
After you’ve created the look of your Sims, you then have to crate their personality. There are a good number of options available, and while it may feel slightly limited (you can be “good”, “bad” a “snob” or “outgoing” with nothing in between or any indecisiveness) all of these traits have much more impact on the gameplay than before. A Sim that is gloomy, creative and a music lover may write their best music when they’re upset and they have a guitar nearby, another Sim might be an introvert geek who simply wished to stay at home with their collectibles and video games.
After you’ve created your Sims, you’ll be moving them into a house to live. There are two neighbourhoods available, one featuring pine trees and having a suburbs-meets-the-woods feel and the other being a beach neighourhood. You have a small amount of money to play with at the beginning of the game, but you can choose to buy a vacant block of land and build a house on it if you wish. When the first Sims game was released I used to build insane homes, usually two stories and usually cluttered with possessions. I would expand on the house like some sort of mad builder with no plan, just as long as it could hold all my possessions. I wasn’t a fan of the actual house building in The Sims, but thankfully The Sims 4 has the most accessible room and house building feature I’ve ever played with.
Buying possessions and furnishing rooms is also simple, though Sims 3 fans will have to learn the new system. If you like me, think a kitchen is a room for cooking food and nothing else, you’ll want to get it built as quickly and as simply as possible. Say hello to The Sims 4‘s new “styled rooms” feature, where you can pick pre-furnished rooms out of the game’s buy mode like a furniture store catalogue photo that you can buy! It makes for much less time building for those of us who prefer to be doing other things. So creating a Sim and building a house is cool and all but what can we expect from the actual core gameplay?
This is where reviewing The Sims 4 becomes a tricky task. On one hand, I have no doubt that newcomers to the series are absolutely going to love The Sims 4. On the other hand, series veterans like myself may find they can’t wait to see which direction the inevitable downloadable content will take. At times, it feels like the Sims 4 is almost a reboot of the iconic life-sim instead of a straight sequel, as many features from The Sims 3 have been removed. I’m assuming that Maxis made a conscious decision to make the Sims themselves the best Sims they could possibly be, as the behaviour, conversation and animations are the best that the series has ever had.
With that in mind, due to the focus on the Sims’ development, you will spend a lot of your time with The Sims 4 on the basics – getting a job, learning hobbies and trying not to sleep on the floor. As I said before the Sims are the best they have ever been, it just would have been nice to be able to freely roam around my neighbourhood, and if the neighbourhood hat more than the occasional fishing hole and plant to keep me entertained. I’ve been chatting with other Sims veterans and the majority feel that impressive animations or not, there is simply too much content missing to warrant them purchasing the game at full price.
At the time of writing this review, there are a few minor issues that are present in The Sims 4. One example of this is that babies are occasionally born with out of proportion limbs (hello, snake arms!). I’ve heard whispers of other glitches, but at this point I haven’t encountered any in my own game.
- Fun and at times hilarious
- Accessible to everyone
- Brilliant animations and personalities
- Feels lacking compared to previous entries in the series
- Occasional glitch
When it boils down to it, The Sims 4 is fun to play, depending on your previous experience with the series. Maxis and EA have a reputation for decent DLC and players can be sure to expect that they are hard at work making some (as well as a few patches) so that The Sims 4 will be the game will have universal appeal. There isn’t a great deal to do for now, but you can catch up with your old self and be surprised by the amount of new jokes they know.
Score : 6.5/10