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March 2018

The Sims 4

Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Genre: Simulation
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Developer: The Sims Studio
Release Date: Sept. 2, 2014


PC Review - 'The Sims 4'

by Rhi "StormyDawn" Mitera on Oct. 20, 2014 @ 2:00 a.m. PDT

The Sims 4 celebrates the heart and soul of the Sims themselves, giving players a deeper connection with the most expressive, surprising and charming Sims ever in this single-player offline experience.

It's been a year since the final Sims 3 expansion came out, and it's time to start over again with Sims 4. It feels a little jarring to go from time-traveling, tomb-raiding werewolves to just people, but maybe it's what we all needed.

In a word, Create-A-Sim is amazing. You can slide and shape your sim however you want using just your mouse, so it's very easy to make attractive sims. More importantly, perhaps, is how much easier it is for the game to generate attractive sims, so the randomly generated people in your neighborhood are less likely to be as awkward as they were in previous games.

After you get your sims looking like you want, you choose an aspiration for what kind of person you want your sims to be. There are 10 different categories, and each has at least two variations. For example, if you choose the Creativity aspiration, you can become a Best-Selling Author, Musical Genius or Painter Extraordinaire.

You then choose three more personality traits from a pool of 35. They're divided into four trait types, and you can select whichever ones you want as long as they don't counteract each other (you can't be both Good and Evil, for example). Emotional traits determine which emotions your sim tends toward more often, like Cheerful or Gloomy. Hobby traits decide what your sims like to do and what desires they have; Bookworms want to read and write books, and Geeks want to spend time on their computers. Lifestyle traits determine how they interact with the world, if your sim is Ambitious or Clumsy or Lazy, and Social traits affect how you interact with other sims, if you're Family-Oriented or Mean or a Bro.

Instead of the Sims 3 neighborhoods, Sims 4 has worlds that are comprised of four or five smaller neighborhoods. Each neighborhood only has a few buildings, usually of a certain theme. There is a business neighborhood, a residential one, the central park, and the entertainment district. Traveling between these neighborhoods leads to a load screen. The downside to this is the world feels very small and empty, but the upside is the game runs so much better than its predecessor, which I imagine was the point. I was able to max out the game on my middle-of-the-line PC, and I've only crashed twice at the time of this writing, which is probably the most crash-free I've ever experienced with an EA game (I fully expect this to change by the time a few expansions are out, though).

Sims isn't just about making the sim, though. Of course, you need things to do, and Sims 4 has a pretty fair amount of this. You can collect seeds to plant in your garden, and you can catch bugs, fish and frogs. Some of our favorite skills make a return, like Gardening, Guitar and Handiness, and some, like Mixology and Violin, which were first seen in Sims 3 expansions, are also returning. There are also a lot of new skills. Mischief, Rocket Science, Programming and Video Gaming are all new to Sims 4, and they also respective careers linked to them: Criminal, Astronaut, Secret Agent and Tech Guru.

What really sets apart Sims 4 from its predecessors is personalities. Sims feel more like people than ever before. They have clear likes, dislikes and emotions, which are actually a big feature in this game. For example, your sim loves to cook, and she creates a really good plate of mac and cheese, which makes her Confident. This makes it easier for her to make friends, so she heads down to the park feeling awesome. She talks to the first person she finds, who turns out he's a jerk, and even though he likes her well enough, she can't stand him, and by the end of the conversation, she's Angry. She stomps home and uses her newfound pissed-off energy to paint a very emotional masterpiece and then runs on the treadmill until she's too tired to be mad anymore. Emotions tend to cycle perhaps more often than they do in real life, but the fact that they even have emotions to cycle through makes them more real and interesting.

I'm sure a lot of you have heard that Sims 4 is missing quite a few things. Toddlers, for example, do not exist and probably never will. Swimming pools and ghosts, which have been in every Sims base game, were not included in the release. Ghosts have since been added in a free patch, and pools are being added in November 2014. While I appreciate that the folks at Maxis are willing to fill out their game post-release without making us pay for the pools and ghosts expansion, it was clear that EA rushed the game out of the gate, even if they didn't slap a giant "incomplete" sticker on the box.

Sims 4 would've been a really good game if it'd had another six months of production time, and I thinkit has the potential to be great after a few expansions fill in the holes. If you're on the fence about buying the game, I'd recommend waiting to see where EA Maxis plans to go from here. Keep playing Sims 3 for now, and come back in a few months. I'll keep you updated until then.

Score: 7.5/10

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