Title: The Sims 4
Platform: Origin, Windows, OSX (Planned)

Reviewed on: Windows
Genre: Life Sim
Players: Single player


Written by Whistler 12th September 2014

















Every now and then it’s a pleasant change to be reviewing something that isn’t a top down shooter, rogue-like or RPG (and especially not a hybrid of the three); so instead I got to spend a chunk of my weekend with League of Legends (no I’m not addicted) and Maxis’ new entry in the Sims franchise by the creative title of The Sims 4.


For all two of you that don’t know what The Sims is; cause I’m pretty sure there are Amazonian tribes in the rain forests yet to be touched by civilization that have a pretty good grasp on what it is. The Sims is a life simulation game where the player takes the role of a rather singularly focused divine being who creates and controls various ‘Sims’, humans that seem to lack a bloody sensible language, where you help or hinder your Sims in making their ideal homes, achieving life goals, finding friends and getting some sexy time from the cradle to the grave. The game has no end game to speak of and is very nonlinear where what happens is purely down to the player’s choice.
























Now I’ll admit I stopped being interested in the series roughly around the second or third expansion for The Sims 2 as honestly I only felt like I was rein acting some grotesque puppetry while realizing that I was playing a game about the routines of life while trying to escape those very routines.

But right from the outset it is blatantly obvious that The Sims 4 is severely lacking in content so much so I don’t know where to start; starting up of course I begin the three hour long trial of recreating myself, a buddy and that special girlfriend (if I had one), well it would take that long if there was as many options as there was in The Sims 3 and even its predecessor.

There’s so little to choose from and little variation in almost the entirety of the game’s customization, most hair styles are bland and uninteresting, there’s about 3 ‘styles’ of clothing all of which you must choose from predetermined colour patterns and you can’t even change the height of each Sim besides changing their age (I may be wrong but I swear I vaguely remember being able to do that in 2).


You do get to set up what your Sim will wear for several occasions and I was able to somewhat recreate a few people I know for my Sim to socialize with (cause fuck doing the real thing in between sleep and gaming). However even creating my more normal friends who don’t have anime haircuts like myself was difficult, none of them really look like who their supposed to mostly due to the over simplified styles of clothing and facial features.


Once you’re finished with your first household you plop them down on one of the various plots of land out of two suburbs. Once again I feel like we’ve took a step backwards, the pale white background with the static houses dotting it on the ‘world’ screen just feels so dull. I enjoyed being able feel like I’m above the actual suburb in 2 and from what I saw 3 improved on that, so I’m perplexed as to why The Sims has stripped back on this element with the only rational concept to maybe crank down the minimum requirements to run on a toaster.

























They even dropped the ball with simply visiting a neighbour’s house or wanting to check out the local venue which is locked behind a god damn dull loading screen cutting up the world and making everything feel so small in comparison; again confusing me as when you do get into world at the Sim’s level you can zoom out to see your neighbours houses and can even go chat with locals in say a nearby park and such without visiting their actual locations.

The venues have been simplified to a painful degree as well; beaches have called in sick, spas have left before release, and theatres have vanished into thin air, but surely restaurants- nope all missing in this overpriced title.


It can be said those once you drop into the selected plot of land that some simplifications aren’t all bad, the building mode, while awkward for those of us who’ve played Sims already but it’s easily learned, the interface is cleaner and there’s plenty of tutorials. Actually scratch that, the there’s too many tutorials to the point I was still getting abusive tips & hints in my face after 10 hours of playing. But I’m digressing again, as mentioned building is simplified but this actually put me off, you can still make walls but not floors and how you actually go about it is by clicking on an empty space in the room and drag the edges.


Honestly finding it hard to write something positive while not handing an equally or larger negative to follow it to be honest. It feels like they’ve only wiped the slate and hoped nobody would notice that’s still the same slate that had that previous item that people genuinely enjoyed; this feeling leads to bitterness when you realize that they did hope nobody would notice and didn’t seem to care if you did notice.

























The Sim population has evolved ever so slightly as they’ve learned to multitask finally; now instead of awkwardly trying to balance socialising with all the other needs you’re Sims are capable of striking up conversation while eating together, dancing, watching tv, reading, painting and even join group chats more naturally (though when I noticed they also pull their phones out during conversations made me feel ill and reflect on how saddened I am about how it mirrors reality fairly well in this regard). There’s also a wide variety of emotions displayed that do effect the Sim in different ways, from being in the mood for some romance, to feeling inspired to create or energized to em, be energized; but in all seriousness it does help create some of what little variety there is to be had with this iteration.


Okay more positives, positives, em…

The visuals are nice-ish, not really a big improvement but the animations are a step forward at least granted no amount of animation can make up for simlish but at least I can get rid of the simlish on the music channels with the easy to access custom music folder.


Thankfully it seems much like 3 modding will become a big movement in The Sims 4 which while still aggravating me will at least allow the game to get some actual content. Though I can’t help but reckon that some of the staff at Maxxis an EA took the whole modding keeping games like Skyrim alive for so long far too literally.


While it was nice to see that making your way through your sim’s career path takes a bit more time and even comes with some item rewards, it requires just as little effort, when you’re not at work you go about crossing off the checklist of write X books, paint X paintings, and make sure the sim’s mood is in the green each time to better performance. There are the occasional text based make a choice situations but they rarely feel like they impact at all on an overly piss easy ‘challenge’ the game presents.

























I mean, I can’t hide that I did thoroughly enjoy my first 10-15 hours I experienced with The Sims 4 and it was a strangely therapeutic venture, but unlike previous iterations my common sense intervened and I could already see what a boring addictive heroine in video game format The Sims 4 was. With the extreme lack of content the game quickly becomes a dull routine and switching households doesn’t really do anything to change up the blatant fact that when combined with the game’s toddler degree of difficulty; The Sims 4 is shallow, lacking in content and only elevates how good The Sims 3 was.


Hey it serves as a good demo of what Sims 3 is; best wait till there’s some content by the looks of this one, whether thanks to the modding community or when EA begin operation ‘Steal all the Wallets’.




Pros:   

Improved animations,

Emotions provide variety,

Therapeutic gameplay.


Cons:   

Shallow depth,

Lacks any kind of challenge,

Split up world,

Severely lacking in content.


Final verdict,

If The Sims 4 was a standalone title and I had amnesia I might have approached it more positively but it’s a pathetic attempt when put up against predecessor’s to such a degree The Sims 4 gets a 4/10.


Written by,

Whistler


















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