- New Emotion System is a Great Addition
- The Gallery Allows You to Share and Download Created Houses
- The User Interface is Clean and Easy to Navigate
- Lack of Story Progression and Open World is a Huge Leap Backwards
- Removed Many Features That Have Been in Previous Titles,
- There Are Many Bugs That Make the Game Harder to Play
The Sims 4 is the latest installment in a series of games that lets you control simulated people in a simulated neighborhood. Being the fourth entry, one would think that this game has all the best features of the previous games, along original mechanics features.
This is only half true.
Reader be warned, I am basing this review on the premise that a sequel to a video game should improve on the gameplay and mechanics of the previous game. The Sims 4 is a fun, addicting and entertaining game, but I am constantly asking myself why they would remove so many features that worked very well in previous installments.
Let’s start off with my biggest problem in this game— they removed the open world and story progression from The Sims 3. Open world means that the entire neighborhood was connected. There were no loading screens when the player wanted to go down the street to visit a neighbor, head to the local grocer, or drive to work. You were able to watch your character traveling, stopping to smell the flowers if you so desired. In The Sims 4, the world has been closed off. When you go to work, your character runs out the door and disappears. If you want to visit the museum or the gym, you must first go through a loading screen.
To be fair, this change means that there is a much shorter loading time when starting the game. In The Sims 3, when you start up the game, the load time is far from great. Once it is over, however, you won’t see another one unless you start an expansion to the game.
Story progression was my favorite mechanic in The Sims 3. I created all of my friends and put them into my neighborhood. I would only ever play with my character, but because of story progression, my other created sims would continue their lives without my input. I had friends get married, have children, start new careers, and die without me interfering. This made the game feel like a true simulation.
For someone like me, the lack of these mechanics are a huge step back for the series. It makes The Sims 4 feel like a sequel to the first game in the series.
While I do think this game has taken a step back, there are some great new mechanics. The two best additions are the emotion system and multitasking. Your character will feel different emotions depending on their actions, the actions of other sims and the environment around them. These emotions might give your character a bonus or penalty.
For example, sometimes when I sleep on my cheap bed, I will wake up in the tense emotion state. This means that I will learn skills at a slower pace.However, my taking a thoughtful shower, I will remove the tense emotion and replace it with the focused emotion, which allows me to learn skills at a faster pace.
The second mechanic I enjoyed, multitasking, is exactly what it sounds like. Gone are the days where your sims had to finish one action before performing another. I can now sit down on the toilet and read a book, effectively raising my fun and bladder levels into the green. As hilarious as it sounds, it is actually a very useful mechanic. There are only so many hours in the day. If I can complete two objectives at the same time, it means I will have more time later to hone my sim’s skills.
Not only have mechanics been removed, but content that has been in previous games are also missing from The Sims 4. My sim was cooking himself breakfast one day. His cooking skill was still pretty low, so I wasn’t surprised when he accidentally started a fire. In previous games, a fire alarm would go off notifying the firemen that would eventually come and save you. If you didn’t have a fire alarm, you could call a fireman to come to your house.
None of this is present in The Sims 4. Instead, you better hope you added a sprinker system. If you didn’t, the only way to put out the fire is to have you sim do it. Unfortunately, sometimes your sim fails to put out the fire and dies.
Not only are firemen missing, but basements, the toddler age, dishwashers and the create-a-style system are also missing. The create-a-style system allowed you to actually create your own coloring styles for your clothing. It is not a huge loss to me, but still nonsensical to have removed it.
Another great addition to the game is the gallery. The gallery allows you to share and download created sims and houses. This is pretty cool. Many people are proud of their creations and being able to show them off to people all around the world is a great boost to their pride. One player even recreated the apartment and characters from the TV show Seinfeld.
I understand that it is hard to find and remove all the bugs in a game before it launches, but there are some bugs in The Sims 4 that really should have been addressed. The biggest problem for me was I would sometimes lose functionality of the keyboard keys that control time. I should be able to speed up time by pressing the “2” or “3” keys, and slow or stop time with the “1” and “`” keys, respectively. Every 2 out of 3 times I started the game, I could not control time with those buttons. I did find a solution; exit and restart the game until they work again.
Another bug I encountered was when I ordered my sim to mop up the floor. He did a great job mopping, but he never let go of the mop. This prevented him from performing other actions. I fixed the problem by restarting the game.
Other bugs I’ve encountered are: sims sitting down at the dinner table, then standing up and sitting back down repetitively, maids not cleaning trash off the ground, the sim I married did not change her last name (she is supposed to), deformed babies (this has been fixed), and saved games being lost.
The last one is a doozy. I played for hours one night, just to come back the next day to find that all my progress was lost.
The last redeeming factor The Sims 4 has lies in its user interface. IThere is not a lot of space on the screen being taken up, which allows me to view my sims and their world easier. I also like how the tab for your sim’s needs will actually change depending on what they need the most. If my sim needs to use the bathroom badly, the tab will change to a toilet paper symbol. This allows me to take care of my sim’s needs without changing tabs unnecessarily.
All in all, I think The Sims 4 is a very solid game. If you are a newcomer to the series, you will be delighted and addicted within the first ten minutes. If you are a follower of the series as I have been, however, you will be severely disappointed. I tried to keep an open mind with this game, but the fact is: there are way too many things missing to call this a sequel. The long time fans will realize that the missing content will most likely appear again in the form of paid downloadable content.
My final verdict is: wait to buy this game. It will eventually be bundled with one or more expansions for the same price. This game, in its current condition, is not worth $60.