What a Sim Wants
After many years of weaving my way through the seemingly hundreds of expansions set out for the wonderful Sims 3, the time has finally come to sit down, learn all of the new things and begin again with The Sims 4 – EA and Maxis’ latest base game iteration in the widely successful franchise. But with a new ‘base game’ comes a lot of problems, and it’s widely apparent in The Sims 4 that Sims fans are going to be playing a lot more of the waiting game before they can truly taste a new Sims experience.
One of the biggest noticeable changes about The Sims 4 is the redesigned Create-A-Sim, which now adds a multitude of levels of creation for crafting your perfect Sim. From the cheek bones to the calf muscles, the finite details of your Sims’ body and features can all be sculpted in an easy-to-use click and drag system. I really enjoyed this upgrade from the previously linear Create-A-Sim that was evident in The Sims 3, as this system gives a much more fluctuating degree of personality to the Sims you create and enables you to sculpt your perfect Sim if you really want to.
Similarly, the UI and design of The Sims 4 is significantly revamped and makes the game feel that much more polished and easy for anyone to jump into. The changes are significant in this portion of the game (as you’d expect) and makes little things like a Sims mood change to larger things like build mode that much easier to understand and work around. This really feels like a solid upgrade and it’s a giant step up from what seems like a UI from the early 2000’s in The Sims 3.
The graphics and overall presentation of The Sims 4 doesn’t take that much of a leap from its predecessor, but the changes are enough to be noticed for those with Sim-trained eyes. I’m sure these minor graphical improvements were made due to the fact that EA wanted to have this game running on as many machines as possible, but for those of us with PCs capable of running games like Bioshock Infinite and Hitman Absolution, it’s a bit of a let down that there isn’t even an option to boost the graphics up for said machines (there are options for graphics increases, but it isn’t significant). It’s clear that EA and Maxis decided to go with simplicity over complexity as a whole package, and that’s completely understandable.
In terms of sound, The Sims 4 is quite minimal. It’s really what you’d come to expect from a Sims game, the always entertaining Simlish is back with even more confusing sets of tone, the classic radio pop returns for your Sims to dance to as well, but It all feels very familiar. Sure, there are instances of new and revamped sounds, but for a Sims game it’s all very basic in the way that it’s a representation of everyday life and well, even as I’m typing this review all I’m hearing is bugs outside and the keyboard. It’s not very exciting at all, and I guess it doesn’t need to be for The Sims 4. Throughout my time with Adam McNamus (yes, that’s his name), he’d constantly spend hours at a time playing games and watching TV while going out and grabbing a snack every couple of hours. Sometimes a bit of Sim Pop would usher through the stereo sitting next to his giant Plasma TV, but other than that it was dead quiet – just like real life. What a depressing life he led. Improvements in The Sims 4 are few and far between. Because this game is the base game for what will seem like hundreds of expansions to follow on, you can’t really expect too much to play around with when the game launched, but it doesn’t excuse the fact that both toddlers and pools were taken out before release. I mean, who’s going to set up the infamous pool death trap now when there’s no pools to use? It’s really quite disappointing.
“From the cheek bones to the calf muscles, the finite details of your Sims’ body and features can all be sculpted in an easy-to-use click and drag system.”
The Sims 4 has a lot of potential for the future, and I think it’s become a rolling thing that base games are usually just that – base titles to be expanded upon, but there is a serious lack of content in the game right now and I was at a loss for what to decorate my house with at times because of it. It’s not good enough really, and I expected more even from the base game but it isn’t there and that’s just seriously disappointing. Speaking of decorating, one of the biggest and most rewarding modes in The Sims games is build mode. It’s what sets the average schmuck like myself from the incredible designers of tomorrow, really. The mode itself is still as deep as you’d expect it to be, with the added simplicity of furniture and the like being categorized via rooms. I liked this design decision as it made things easier to find for a specific room, but on the other side of the spectrum it also made looking for small items tedious as more often than not they’d be usable in a multitude of different areas but would only be locatable in one specific section in build mode. When it came down to the actual building of a house, it was a breeze. As I’d mentioned above – I’m not all that great at building homes but the options the game gave me made the process much simpler than before, and even expanding on rooms with a click and hold of the mouse was seriously beneficial to keeping things moving at a good pace. After all was said and done in terms of crafting my new home for Adam McNamus, I must admit that it was pretty awful. Luckily, a few of my friends have already dedicated days towards their houses and instead of trying to recreate their incredible designs, I’m thinking of just downloading them from the EA Servers and throwing them in. No hard feelings, right?
When it comes down to it, The Sims 4 is a work in progress. It’s a game that’s bare boned right now and it’ll be like that for quite some time. It already needs reinvigoration and expansion packs to boost its limited amount of items and while I think that the new mood system is interesting enough, it isn’t a game changer at all. I still think the best part about a Sims game is creating your dream home and decorating it like a pro, but right now that’s just not possible – even with the vast amount of options given in build mode. Sims fans will no doubt get a kick out of what’s to offer here, but the game doesn’t have the staying power The Sims 3 has right now because of the issues I’ve mentioned above. It needs new content and the re-addition of pools and toddlers as they do serve pivotal roles in the way gamers enjoy their time in The Sims after they’ve crafted their masterful home. Perhaps when this happens the game will start to become what The Sims 3 is now, but until then it’s definitely a work in progress in all terms of the word.
The Sims 4 is the start of something good. It’s clear that the new changes are significant enough for users to upgrade when the time is right, but for now it’s at a point where there needs to be new additions for it to be worthy of an upgrade. Right now, we can’t be sure when that time will come – but when it does, I’ll surely be excited to continue to craft my Sims world and steal my friends superbly made homes.
A review copy of the game was provided by the publisher.