Review

The Sims 4 was released two days ago and, to be candid with you all, I love it. The only reason I haven’t written about it before now is because I was up all day and all night playing it. Much like Maxis did with Simcity 2013, The Sims 4 is a renewed and completely streamlined version of its previous incarnations. Problems with falling in love with my own female Sims aside, I am yet to experience anything but joy from this game. It’s not perfect—a lot of features that many Sims players considered crucial are no longer available in The Sims 4. The most notable of those missing features is pools, but it is my opinion that the cleaner, lighter, and more realistic stylistic approach taken by Maxis on The Sims 4 makes it all very, very worth it.

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At E3, Maxis promised more realistic and intelligent Sims with meaningful moods and behaviors. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that they were not lying. Sims can now multitask! Much like myself, I have been waiting for the day I could generate a Sim who eats dinner in front of their computer while crying. But the multitasking doesn’t end there! Sims can read books while using the toilet, watch the Cooking Channel while preparing their meals (to make their cooking skill rise faster) and can have meaningful conversations while exercising to name just a few. Group conversations also add more realism to the game. I’m not certain how many people can join one group conversation, but thus far I have had up to five at one time with no troubles.

My favorite addition to the game is moods for your Sims. While the Sims 3 had something very similar to moods, it was previously in the form of a sliding scale from ecstatic to depressed. Given that most people who play video games and read these articles are humans, (Though not all of them, I love you spambots!) you’re probably aware of the fact that human emotions aren’t like that at all. The Sims 4 introduces a full spectrum of emotions including simple ones like “Happy”, “Sad”, and “Angry” but also more subtle emotions that were always ignored in previous Sims games such as “Inspired”, “Uncomfortable”, “Embarrassed”, “Confident”, and “Focused.” Each of these emotions meaningfully impact how your Sim goes about their day. While inspired, for example, your Sim will gain a boost in their ability to write and will also have social interactions to reflect that, such as sharing ideas. Just like with real people, these emotions can be very helpful but they can also be intrusive and difficult to get rid of. An embarrassed Sim will have trouble talking to other Sims no matter how many times you click “Joke”, even if they are normally a popular and charismatic Sim.

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Character creation also follows the streamlined and clean approach taken by Maxis. The Sims 4 has the best character creation I have ever seen in a game that was not an MMO. The only character creation that I would argue can stand up to it may be Saints Row 2. Rather than using left and right arrows that cause forty five seconds of lagging every time you click them, character creation now uses a simplified structure wherein the player can mold their Sims’s faces and bodies like modelling clay. The choices for eyes, noses, mouths, cheeks, and jaws are in depth and gorgeous. Women Sims notably have better character creation models but both males and females are extremely easy and fun to build into exactly however you’d like them to be.

The gigantic loading screens of the previous Sims games are now a thing of the past. If your PC is up to date, then you should experience absolutely no problems in that regard. I recall waiting for upward of three minutes for The Sims 1, 2, and 3 to load in the past. Those ludicrous waiting times applied to good PC’s as well. In preparation for The Sims 4 to come out, I was playing a great deal of The Sims 2 and The Sims 3 and I was taken aback by how streamlined and quick The Sims 4 was. Loading screens now last thirty seconds at most. The reason for this is that the large-scale approach in The Sims 2 and 3 where your Sim could freely walk around town at any time is gone. Entering new lots will bring you to a loading screen, but those loading screens are so short that I never considered that to be a problem. Overall, I found myself waiting a lot less and I was thankful for that.

As I mentioned before, the game isn’t perfect. Maxis built a new engine for this game and therefore they couldn’t implant old features so easily. A lot of features that people expected to be basic in The Sims 4 are not present. This includes weather, pets, and water but a fuller list of these complaints is available here. I feel that it’s worth noting that the lack of these features did not dampen my gaming experience, but The Sims is a unique experience for every player and I would understand if the missing features were a problem to some people. My biggest complaint, however, is not in the missing features but in this one oddity: If you are playing a household with one Sim and that Sim goes to work, you cannot interact with the game until they come home. You may queue an action for later, but you cannot check your Sim’s work schedule, friendships, needs, or inventory. As such, you end up just sitting there watching your empty house for a few minutes. This seems very backward considering that Maxis worked so hard to make the loading screens disappear. When my Sim is away from home, it would be the ideal time to consider their schedules or how/when I’m going to meet up with my Sim’s friends. Normally the frustration of waiting for your Sim to return home is handled by the game going into a hyper-speed mode while the house is empty, but sometimes (for reasons I can’t figure out) the game refuses to enter hyper-speed mode and I’m just forced to sit there and contemplate the bigger questions in life.

Build Mode and Buy Mode are now the same thing. This comes with some benefits, such as the ability to buy pre-furnished rooms and put a house together like Lego, but also with some downsides as everything now feels very cramped and pointlessly tough to navigate. I was disappointed by the removal of The Sims 3’s Create-a-Style wherein the player could change the color and texture of their furniture to literally anything they wanted, even denim. Now the player is forced to choose from a pre-set number of styles. It’s not the worst thing in the universe, because that accurately reflects what buying furniture is like, but I would have liked to see more opportunities for originality. Nonetheless, the new Build and Buy mode is overall a minor improvement in my opinion. Rather than needing to demolish walls and rebuild to expand rooms, the player can now click and drag walls to increase the size of a room while maintaining its shape and design. Placing a roof on your house is now a lot simpler, but it’s also notable that the automatic roofing tool was removed. The furniture selection is decent, but as with all Sims games ever you’re probably going to have to shell out more cash to get better options in the future.

Overall, I can’t overstate how happy I am to finally be playing The Sims 4. It’s not perfect, but nothing in this world is. I have thoroughly enjoyed playing it so far and am immediately going to keep playing it as soon as this review is done, so that’s something to keep in mind amongst my complaints. Sadly, I am probably going to end up paying over one hundred more dollars in expansions for this game. Not sadly, I am going to fucking love it.

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About the Author

Dante
Dante is ThoseGamingNerds's Canadian Correspondent. When he's not plotting to overthrow the universe or punching through steel girders, he occasionally writes decent articles. Dante is beautiful inside and out and loves every person who spends even a few seconds browsing over his articles. Dante also runs a modest YouTube channel specializing in informative pop-culture which you can access by clicking the "W" below.