After several days of playing, I feel like my review of the Sims 4 is finally ready to hit the blogosphere. My initial impressions review still holds true for the most part, but I do have some other points to elaborate on, so I’ll just jump right in and give this game a proper welcome to my PC’s hard drive.
I remember back in 2000 when the first Sims game came out. I had bought it with some cash I made waiting tables (my first “adult” job) and could not wait to get home to play it. I’m a huge fan of simulation games in general, so of course when I saw that I could control the lives of entire families, I naturally jumped at the opportunity. I installed the game and played for hours, well into the early morning. At one point, I’m fairly sure my brother came up behind me and said, “What the hell are all these people doing?” while he stared at the screen in wonderment. He eventually became just as enamored with the game as I was, and in no time we were fighting over whose turn it was to play. Addicting, those sims are.
The Sims 4 takes me back to that day. Not really in a good way.
Over the years, I’ve played every Sims game that’s been released, have purchased every expansion pack available and loved every second of game time I’ve squeezed into my hectic adult life. Every expansion just made the game better and more enjoyable, continuously adding new things to do and new ways to cause all kinds of shenanigans in my sim’s neighborhood. The Sims 4, while entertaining for a while, unfortunately does not live up to the expectations I’ve come to have from Sims games. In short, my initial impression certainly held true: it is a whole new game, basic in its truest form, a re-imagination of a game that was released fourteen years ago.
While I think it’s great that the engine has been completely overhauled and the game runs much more smoothly and there certainly are some nice perks to this new build, the base game does not, in my opinion, justify the $60 USD price tag. Maybe if a few other features had been included right out of the box, such as university locations or even pets or seasons, I’d be more on board. However, for what is essentially just a bare-bones building block to pile DLC on top of, $60 is a pretty steep expectation for players, especially new ones, to pay. Not to mention DLC will undoubtedly run $30 or more per pack!
Anyway, I’ll digress.
Controls in the Sims 4 is pretty similar to the previous games. Edge-scrolling allows for easy movement around the screen, and all the usual shortcut keys work to rotate and move the camera around, which is nice – one less thing to have to get used to. I absolutely hate it when developers completely change familiar controls and I’m forced to relearn them all over again, so I’m very happy to see that that did not happen here. If nothing else, it gave me more time to focus on actually playing the game and interacting with the world, and my sim, rather than wasting time trying to figure out how to move the camera around or how to place furniture. A definitely plus.
Visually, the game is stunning. Graphics are crisp and detailed and I get absolutely zero chop, even on my five year old gaming rig. I had raved about this in my initial impressions review, but I cannot stress this enough – the game really does run like a dream. In comparison to previous Sims games, there is no competition – the Sims 4 wins in performance, hands down. I can only hope this fact remains true as DLC is added in future releases, though I guess time will tell. Sounds in the game have improved too, not to mention there are quite a few more sounds added in. Everything from gaining a skill point to your sim’s emotional state changing, now includes a brand new, handy-dandy sound clip to alert you to the occurrence. I appreciate this, because so often I miss these things, and the clips are completely un-obtrusive and non-distracting, which is nice.
In the past, I’ve been known to play Sims games for hours, even days at a time (don’t worry, I slept). I don’t see Sims 4 being any different really, especially once more content is added to the game. While it may be sort of an in-and-out experience for now, I have high hopes that future DLC will expand greatly upon the game’s playability. While I don’t find myself addicted to the game as I have been with previous Sims releases, I do see potential, and I hope to eventually see that potential come out. Sooner, rather than later.
There are a couple of things added to the game that make for minor entertainment. Things like being able to hunt for frogs in logs and ponds (one of several collectibles), digging up capsules to find treasure, harvesting wild plants (which seems to be a great way to pick up some extra cash, I might add) and other small activities of that nature. It would also seem I was incorrect in my initial assessment of planter boxes! Apparently, you CAN plant more than one seed in a planter box, but only of certain seeds – trees and such take up an entire planter box, which I suppose is to be expected.
Careers have also been changed drastically in that there are no longer career locations – your sim, just like Sims 1, will now leave the neighborhood when going to work. However, something added to career progression that I noticed are “goals” to help you become promoted or improve job performance. For example, my sim had joined the culinary career, and in order to be promoted to a caterer, she needed to clean dishes three times, prepare an excellent grilled cheese, and reach a certain level of cooking skill. I appreciate the addition of these things because, while it’s true there is not as much interaction with careers anymore, these “goals” seem to add a level of participation in my sim’s career advancement, which is nice. Gaining a promotion also comes with the possibility of unlocking unique furniture to place in your home.
Overall, I’d say the game is not a complete loss, but for now, it is certainly disappointing when compared to previous releases of The Sims. I appreciate the desire to recreate something from the ground up, using newer and faster technology, however, for a franchise as highly popular and successful as The Sims, I’d have expected The Sims 4 to blow me out of the water and it just didn’t. Ultimately, it was underwhelming and left me wishing for the familiar expansions and gameplay experience I’ve already come to know and love over the last fourteen years. Certainly, if you are new to the awesomeness that is The Sims, don’t judge the entire franchise on this one game, or even this game on this one release. It will, undoubtedly, be fleshed out in the future with DLC and user-created content, and in time I have faith that the game will become just as fantastic as it could be. However, for now, I’d suggest hanging on to your money just a little while longer and waiting for an expansion pack, maybe two, to be released. While showing a lot of promise, the base game certainly leaves a lot to be desired at the moment.