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Game Review: The Sims 4
The Sims 4 was released September 2014 and was developed by Maxis, but published by EA Games. If you’re not familiar with the Sims franchise, the game is a life simulator in which you take control of Sims and can choose how they live their lives. The game is nonlinear, meaning that there is no real goal, and so players can choose how they want to play. The Sims 4 is the fourth installment of the series, which dates back to The Sims 1, released in February 2000.
The series has seen a graphics and gameplay overhaul with each installment, and new things are added through an expansion pack system. This means, of course, that in order to get the full experience, players should count on spending a few bucks every year or so on the expansion packs. The packs are themed; for example, one expansion will focus on pets, and the next will focus on vacations, and this means that players can choose exactly what they’d like to add to their games (I highly recommend waiting for the price to drop on any expansion packs).
With The Sims 2, Maxis introduced generations, where your sims’ children could grow up and experience each life stage and their milestones, such as getting married. There was a definite focus on genetics as well, and the physical characteristics of parents often were passed through the generations. The Sims 3 brought an incredible open-world experience, and The Sims 4 introduces moods and emotions. Each installment, while similar to the previous one, is different enough to make the gameplay unique. In this way, each installment feels like a completely different game, although the mechanics are largely the same.
Moods and Emotions
The unique gameplay addition introduced with The Sims 4 adds a pretty hilarious experience. Sims’ emotions are now affected by the events and even objects that occur around them, and so their whims are also affected by how they feel at any particular moment. Emotions sims can experience include: Flirty, Angry, Sad, Fine, Playful, Focused, and Happy. Their emotions can often guide how they interact with objects as well. For example, I had a sim paint a flirty picture, while another took an angry poop. As far as I can tell, there is no real difference between a flirty picture and a non-flirty picture, except that objects created while experiencing an emotion can give off an aura of that emotion, and influence nearby sims to experience it as well.
Is the Emotion system a step up from Sims 3? In terms of the characters experiencing a more full life, yes. The sims seem a little more real, and are affected more by the events that happen to them. As far as gameplay, not really. I still miss the genetics of Sims 2 and the open world experience of Sims 3, and will likely go back to them at some point.
A big part of the sims franchise is the character creation phase. The Sims 4 allows payers to create more unique looking sims, with the ability to fine tune facial features and body shape. The experience is much more streamlined, and fairly easy to understand, and seems to go a lot faster for me than previous installments. I usually don’t like spending too much time on the details, and having the ability to make a more unique sim faster definitely appeals to me.
In order for The Sims 4 to be more streamlined and fast, the world around them had to be sacrificed. In The Sims 3, players could follow their sim next door to bother their neighbors, or to the store for groceries, or even watch them head into work for the day. The Sims 4 is definitely lacking that adventurous feel. You can still visit your neighbor, but there will be a loading screen in between, unless they live right next door. Not to mention that the entire world feels empty. Sunset Valley, the neighborhood that shipped with The Sims 3, had a library, gym, school, park, and stores and felt like there was a ton to do. The neighborhood in The Sims 4 only has a park, library, bar, and gym for the most part. There just isn’t much to do outside the house, and as a result, you never really explore the surroundings.
Overall, The Sims 4 is different enough from the other installments that I feel like I’m playing a different game. That being said, I feel like The Sims 2 and The Sims 3 appeal to me much more. The more I play The Sims 4, the more I miss the genetics and family-centric Sims 2, and the open-world adventure of The Sims 3. The Sims 4 seems like it is a more casual game, perhaps aimed at the type of person who might not want to invest too much time per day on one video game, and that’s okay. It’s a very casual game and easy to get into, and that means it’s perfect for anyone looking for something to play to wind down after a long day. If that sounds like something you’d enjoy, I would definitely recommend any of the Sims franchise.