I’ve been playing The Sims 4 since the midnight EST release on September 2… and despite the negativity it’s earned from some gaming circles, I’ve really enjoyed my time with it. I started by creating a Sygnus Sim neighborhood — you can see my gameplay story on my Tumblr blog here. I may compact the posts into a storyline here as well, seeing how many people enjoyed the Into the Future Sims 3 story line!
I started writing a much longer in depth review of the game when I realized I have way too much to say about it. So rather than overwhelm folks with a huge first review, I decided to write up a list of my impressions. I’ve sunk quite a few hours into the game, so I feel like I have enough of a feel for it to offer my personal opinions.
Your mileage may vary.
Things that won me over.
- Responsive Gameplay: This is my biggest plus. The game runs fast, smooth and with very few issues for me — that’s not something you can say about Sims games usually. Keep in mind, I already have a couple mods and over 200 pieces of custom content installed. I also run on Ultra settings. I haven’t seen a hit in performance even when there’s several sims on the screen.
- Art Style: I like the way the sims look (aside from some of the hair). I really like the way the world looks – colors are very vibrant and inviting. I’m always admiring the art direction of objects and landscapes in this game (even if some of the stuff you see is backdrops). It has great ambiance.
- Sims Creation: Once I got used to the sim scuplty style of the CAS, I appreciate what it can do.
- Minimal UI: I hear some folks like this, others don’t. I like it. It takes some getting used to, but it’s far less obtrusive than the UI in previous games. It’s also sleek and responsive.
- Exchange: I wasn’t sure how I’d like the Origin-connected game at first. But now that I’ve experienced the amazing new exchange first-hand, I have nothing but joy for it. No longer do I have to search through an external website exchange, find a house I want to import, wait for it to download, then pray the install launcher doesn’t trip out while trying to stick it in the game. Nope. It’s all right there in the game. Find the house from the gallery. Click install. Boom! It’s there! No fuss, no muss.
- Emotions and Whims: Not just a gimmick, I really enjoy the challenges the emotion system brings. I also like how emotions change whims, which keeps you on your toes to fill them throughout the day.
- Multi-tasking Sims: This seems to work really well. It’s great to have sims chatting and doing other things all at the same time!
- Harvesting, Collecting, Gardening: I rarely messed with collecting in Sims 3 because the things you had to find were so small and hard to find. I really like the improvements to these systems, especially working to complete collections.
- Career Challenges and Promotion Bonuses: I like the career system and how it challenges you to increase your skills and fill objectives. When you get promotions at work, you unlock items and are gifted things that actually provide useful emotional boosts towards your particular job.
- Children: They’re far cuter and more engaging than in previous Sims games. They’re also more challenging to play if you want to work them towards the honor roll!
- Testingcheats True: I love the ability to use a cheat to pull sims back into the CAS any time. This had to be modded into previous games, but this one gives it to you out of the box!
- Building: I’m a very minimalist builder/designer/decorator. I could never do all those fancy things other builders could. But this new system of building is amazing! Dragging walls, picking up rooms… picking up the whole house! This makes building so much more intuitive for me. I can see myself experimenting with this much more than previous versions.
- Upgrade System: At first, it annoyed me how often things break in this game. But once I realized fixing things provided upgrade parts that you could use to make your existing appliances better, I warmed up to it. I like how you can choose several different types of upgrades for one item now. That means your dreams of creating the utra-potty is within reach!
ON THE FENCE
Things that either don’t matter to me, I don’t have an opinion on, or I feel lukewarm towards.
- No Story Progression: I’ll miss seeing a neighborhood growing and changing around me, even when I didn’t play it. But sometimes, such as with my Sygnus neighborhood, I didn’t want them to quit their jobs, move out, break up, have kids, etc. So I’d shut off the Story Progression for my most important worlds, anyhow. It’s obvious that the Sims 3 progression bogged down the game significantly and often caused more performance issues than perks (IMHO).
- No Color Wheel in CAS and CASt: This is a big deal to some people. I do miss it, especially when it comes to hair and eyes — those itty bitty swatch selections are sad. But, I can do without it if it means the game performance increases to this level.
- No Open World: This is another big debate in the Sims community. Again, I can see why they went towards the smaller contained areas — it allows for a lot to happen on a lot, but with better performance. I don’t care that much about a few seconds of loading screens. It honestly takes less time now than it did for me to tell a Sim to go somewhere in the town in Sims 3, and wait for them to get there by their chosen mode of transportation.
- No Toddlers/Pools: A big debate in the Sims community. For me, it’s not a huge deal. Honestly, I’d often age right through toddlers when I could. Pools I can wait for. I’m sure these things will be included later.
- Babies: I’m… not sure what to think about the baby system. On one hand, I’m glad we don’t have babies just strewn about on the floor like in Sims 3. Babies are meant to be an annoyance, I suppose, because that’s what they are — thankfully we can choose to age them up instantly if we want. But for those who enjoy playing out babyhood, having them locked into an object is probably annoying. Don’t even mention how they age up into a full-grown child. That’s just… weird.
- No Dishwashers/Trash Compacter/ Other Missing Objects: There’s a number of objects, such as dishwashers, that are missing. It doesn’t break the game for me, but I noticed they were gone, and had to wonder why. I hate washing dishes by hand (since I don’t own a dishwasher IRL), so for a more modern sim lifestyle, I find it hard to believe these sims have smart phones but not dishwashers!
- Can’t See Needs of Off-Screen Sims: When your sim is at work, at school, or off the focused lot, you can’t see what their needs are.
Things I flat out didn’t like.
- Missing Careers: I’m struggling to find careers that “fit” my sim’s personalities. Sure, we have things like Space Ranger and Game Programmer… but where are the standards like medicine, politics, athletic, science, and military? I understand that the jobs are somewhat meant to mix and match skills. But really, what’s out there for my outgoing/charismatic sim (who doesn’t want to be an entertainer) or an athletic sim who just wants to play sports?
- Small Worlds: I love the way the worlds look. But they seem awful small. There’s only a certain number of lots supported in each world. And though you can travel between the worlds without issue, I wonder if it’s going to become a problem once I start expanding to all the different households I want to play. I don’t quite understand why the worlds are small given the way they are segmented. Couldn’t they just add more segments without taking a performance hit? Maybe we’ll see world expansions in the future — I hope!
- Hair Choices: Maybe I’m just spoiled by the amazing modded hairs in Sims 3, but the style of hair for Sims 4 wasn’t exciting to me. Male long hair had no really long hair. While some of it looks okay given the style, some of it just looks too play-dohy for my liking. I’ve seen better hair in recent MMOs… and that says a lot.
- Baby Gender: Folks who have the official Sims 4 guides have noted there’s no real way to influence a baby’s gender. This is a super pain for someone like me (who is trying to build a specific family line), and I hope there’s a mod for it soon. I shouldn’t have to use a cheat to make a child the proper gender.
- No Family Trees: This disappointed me. While sims still recognize family, it’s hard to tell who is related to whom without family trees. I enjoyed looking through family trees and creating my own in previous sims games. It was always very important that I had the proper family structure! I hope this will be patched in or modded in somehow.
- Lack of Traits: While you can earn more “traits” through points you earn with whims, the number of traits you can choose at creation is sadly lacking.
- Cost: Pricey as the way games run these days. I paid the price to have it at launch and I don’t regret it. I still think it’s costly, though, considering the amount of anticipated content that will be coming in add-ons and DLC. Hopefully it doesn’t get as ridiculous as the Sims 3 store was — I never bought a thing out of it because it was just too expensive for what they were trying to sell.
This pretty much sums up my basic thoughts on the game. I’ll give my more in-depth thoughts in a future post!