It’s strange to realize I practically grew up playing “The Sims” series since it debuted way back in 2000 when I was still in sixth grade. It was a wonderful cartoony game about controlling the virtual lives of sims, from getting them jobs to making sure they don’t starve to death. No one expected that a game about watching fake life would be so engaging, but three sequels and a ton of expansions later, “The Sims” has proven itself with series sales over 175 million copies world wide. Developers at Maxis are now hoping to get the world to jump back into the virtual neighborhood in the newly released “The Sims 4.” Not everybody is excited by this latest title, though, with some believing it can’t live up to the previous three releases.
“The Sims 4” has several new features that were designed to streamline much of the creation part of the game. Create-a-sim has done away with sliders to adjust how big or small your sim’s face and body are. Instead, players simple use the cursors to grab the part of the sim they want to change and adjust it until they’re satisfied. This makes it much easier to create exactly what you want when designing your sims, whether you’re going for very attractive or really crazy weird. Aspiration and personality traits make a return, but now they play a bigger role in a new gameplay mechanic. Aspirations and traits influence your sims’ actions and how they behave in the world. The knowledge aspiration gives a bonus to learning new skills and will cause your sims to revive more fun from reading books and playing chess. Traits like “gloomy” will obviously make your sim sad for most of the time, but have access to different interaction a non-gloomy sim would have. They will actually feel better when crying in their bed or complaining to a friend about being sad.
Aside from your sims’ personality, “The Sims 4” have added a feature that many have been waiting for since the beginning. Sims can now multi-task! In previous releases, a sim could only do one action at a time, much to the frustration of players everywhere. In “The Sims 4,” they can now hold multiple conversations while working out, watch TV while eating dinner, and have more romantic interaction while sitting in different seats. I’m not sure why, but it really impressed me that my sims didn’t have to get up from their seat to blow a kiss to their date. Multi-tasking has really added a layer of fun and immersion that was not in previous Sims games.
Now that we’ve covered the nice new features, we need to also go over the glaring missing features that sent the fans of the series into a berserk rage.
“The Sims 4” has been released with a lot of elements missing that were in the original release of “The Sims 3.” In fact, one fan made a thread on the official Sims forums that list 79 plus missing features that were in “The Sims 3” but absent in “The Sims 4.” Some of the big ones were no more create-a-style (making custom designs for clothes), no law enforcement, medical, and business careers for sims, and none of toddlers’ age. But the biggest missing feature, in my opinion, is the open world neighborhood that made the “The Sims 3” so impressive. “The Sims 4” so far has only two neighborhoods to choose from, Willow Creek and Oasis Springs. They look nice enough, but require loading screens to travel from your sims’ house to other places in the neighborhood, which break the immersion quite a bit.
Speaking of breaking the immersion, that multi-tasking feature hasn’t had all the bugs worked out yet. My sim would be eating a meal and start talking to another sim, then get up and switch seats for no real reason. Also, players have been reporting a rather horrifying glitch that makes newborn babies look like mutated spiders (don’t believe me? Google it!). Honestly, mutated babies would have been a welcome surprise during my play-through. The missing content, annoying glitches and unconnected neighborhoods just dampened my excitement for this game.
“The Sims 4” has some things going for it. The characters and interactions look great and very fluid; I might say this is the best looking Sims game to date. But the missing features are so great that it sucked the fun out of what should have been an amazing game. For $60, “The Sims 4” feels only partially complete like I had only received a demo with the rest of the content unavailable. My advice is to hold off buying this and wait till there’s an expansion bundle on sale, when Maxis hopefully releases add-ons that give us the life simulator game that we were waiting for.
“The Sims 4” gets a 2 out of 5 from me.