The Sims 4 ReviewAlex Follin
Back in 2009, players were graced with the wonderful presence that is The Sims 3, and then all of the expansions and stuff packs that normally come with a typical Sims generation. There was an open world, tons and tons of customization, and realism-focused graphics. But then, like they always do, Simmers far and wide all looked for something more and beyond all of their expectations. Then, EA stuck simmers through the metaphorical trail of hype until they finally graced us with The Sims 4 in on September 2, 2014. And this game got more mixed reactions than purely good ones, especially at launch when there was a ton of issues and changes even from just the generation before.
A lot of these changes seemed like it really added realism to the gameplay, and then others gave the game the sense that it stepped in a time machine, due to the fact that it seemed like it should have come before The Sims 3 rather than after it. A large difference that players will notice right away is the graphical style of the game. Rather than a heavy focus on realism, the game takes a turn of focus to a more cartoon-ish type of style. Colors are more bright and inviting now than they were. There have been some complaints stating that this was a step backward, however, I've found that it adds to the charm of The Sims. The Sims have always been known to be a simulation of lifeâ€¦ with a bit of quirky thrown in, and the cartoon-ish graphics really play into that.
Going into The Sims 4, there were a lot of things taken out that a lot of players would probably find typical for a life simulation, or typical for previous instalments. One of the biggest notes would be the fact that at launch, the game did not contain pools at all. Of course, now that the base game has had an update or two, pools have been added but then it leaves players wondering why it wasn't included in the first place. Another big thing that was removed would be the entire life stage for toddlers, which never got fixed in the updates (thus far), and is actually a big complaint of mine. Even though The Sims is known for its quirks, some people find something like a newborn turning into a full-fledged child in a few days is a little more than a "quirks."
The biggest complaint I have about The Sims 4, and I'm sure most players will be with me on this, is the lack of customization. In The Sims 3, EA just threw the doors open for player customization. There was a color wheel that could recolor pretty much everything to any color your heart could desire. There were patterns to change any article of clothing where you could even add your own custom patterns to the game. However, when we got to The Sims 4, all of those wonderful customization options that players had come to love were, for lack of a better word, gone. Players are given a set amount of coloring options for specific clothes that also seemed to be severely lacking, which really limits players to making their Sims look EXACTLY how they were dreamed up.
This leads me into another larger change to the series, which is actually not a complaint but something I've welcomed with open arms. That change would be the super detailed new create-a-Sim function that has been added. Now, players can grab specific parts of a Sim body and push as well as pull to model the Sim exactly how they were intended. Instead of being limited to a few meters that measured just how big or small your eyes are and a list of pre-rendered faces to get at least kind of close to what players imagined, now they can morph the exact upturn in the corners of the eyes, if that's what tickles the player's fancies. Short of the lack of customization of clothes (And yes, furniture later), pretty much every part of this function is super detailed and a welcome addition.
A few more welcome and interesting additions to The Sims 4 is the new game interface. Players that are veterans to the series will be used to a large bar along the bottom of the screen, featuring all of the Sims' needs/wants and anything else about the Sims. Well, The Sims 4 takes on a minimalistic approach, still showing all of the expected aspirations, needs, smaller whims to fulfill, and MOODS?! That's right, The Sims 4 features an all new moods system, rather than the moodlets that players got in The Sims 3 that didn't do anything. Whatever mood your Sim is in this game, actually affects the way the game is played. Sims are more likely to get a partner if they're feeling flirty, or more likely to get a promotion if they're feeling focused or confident. The environment also affects the mood of your Sims, for instance, having art pieces around a study room might make a Sim more inspired to help with creative tasks.
The last really large change I would like to mention is the overly simplified build/buy mode, which is a really welcome change. When building houses, players can now move whole rooms at a time, instead of tearing the entire house apart trying to readjust the kitchen just a few more grid places to the right. Foundations can simply be placed under the existing rooms with just a sliding meter, with an actual choice of how high it goes, instead of being limited. Even paintings and wall objects can be placed literally anywhere on a wall, and there can be more than one thing on a wall! The improvements to build/buy mode are super welcomed, even though they may be foreign to veteran players, they are totally easy to use as soon as players are more familiar.
Overall, there were a few complaints about The Sims 4, as a veteran player myself. I got super attached to having so many options, I guess I was spoiled, in a way. Looking at the first look videos that flooded YouTube upon release, I told myself I wouldn't be picking it up. I was super angry about all the changes made and I just figured that I would hate it. But to be completely honest, I didn't. Not one little bit. As a busy, working human figure such as myself, six hours alone is a lot to devote to anything besides a work shift. However, over 10 hours logged into the game in just a couple days, I didn't even notice how much time had passed. It's because I was fully immersed in the game. I had FUN playing a game, and in the end, that was the job and the job was done in all the right ways. I would recommend this to pretty much anyone that wants a quirky little break from the normal FPS/RPG obsessed society. I know that things look kind of sketchy at first, but seriously, give the game at least a try. (And don't say that you hate the lack of customization, the modding community gives so many options, that's not an excuse!)
Disclosure: We are provided copies of games from the game companies for some games that we review.