Name:

 The Sims 4

Platforms:

PC, Mac

Developer:

 Maxis

The Sims Studio

Genre:

 Life Simulation

Publisher:

 Electronic Arts

Modes:

 Single-Player

Release Date:

 PC: 2nd September, 2014

Mac: 17th Februrary, 2015

Engine:

 

Reviewer:

 Charede

Product Rating:

 PEGI: 12

Review Score:

67/100 (67%)

Disclosure:

 Copy: PC, personally bought.

Timing: Post release.

Extra: This is a reupload of an old review from the previous iteration of the Charede Gaming website.

Ever wanted to do something in your day to day life but never been daring enough? Set the cat on fire, prank a neighbour, date your one true desire, perhaps enhance your appearance? Well in The Sims 4 you can do exactly this without the horrific consequences of jail, being caught, rejection or botched surgery. Well, bar your unfortunate digital counterpart who takes the flak for you as you work towards your goals.

 

The Sims 4 builds on what Maxis has learnt from its predecessors in the series as well as reinventing and in some parts failing to do so for better and worse. The Sims 3 has been a great peak in the series, and I was all keen to see if The Sims 4 could continue this trend. Before getting the game, I already heard all the typical EA games horror stories 'the game is horribly buggy', 'where did all the content go' blah blah blah. Well yes, there is some truth behind this, especially shortly after launch, however, having played the game for over 50 hours myself I am enjoying it even with some glaring issues persist.

 

As usual, the developers have provided some graphical updates, although not massively significant these are nice and of some minor value. The game certainly feels vibrant compared to previous games in the series. However, what is clear, the Maxis have put their focus on redeveloping the underlying core systems of the games including house building, relationships, emotions, user interface, neighbourhoods and more.Rather than on additional clothing and other content.

 

In its current state at the time of writing the game has been very stripped bare of content, the number of options for hairstyles, furniture, and overall variety of items available. Reminds me of the early The Sims 1 days where there was a rather limited choice and having to made do. This limitation can be very annoying at times, and I have rapidly seen myself accidently duplicating or closely representing the same sims by accident when making new sims for my neighbourhood. However, with the introduction of DLC, this has become less of an issue. It seems that Maxis has somewhat learnt from the lessons of the past regarding the DLC whoring of The Sims 3 and have avoided the currency system to buy additional game content. This has massively reduced the number of different packs, however, over time expect more and more packs to become available. Although obnoxious it is far better. In The Sims 3, you could buy a single dining set, and it would cost you as much as 20% of the original game. For example, 2040 points will cost you £12.00. We have found sets that are worth between 1,500 – 2,896 points each. We don’t normally comment on price as value is subjective and different for individuals. However in a game which is DLC heavy and one where your experience will be so heavily influenced by making the decision whether or not to purchase DLC I feel it is important to discuss it on this occasion. One individual has worked out that there is $439.81 of official DLC expansions and with 3190 results of additional DLC that there is roughly $74,486.50 in extras. To give yourself the full game experience you would need to spend approximately $74,926.31. The packs for The Sims 4 appear to offer more, and at marginally better price point although based on some data and calculations by others it appears The Sims 4 base game works out as more expensive than The Sims 3 base game. Outside of the item packs you also have packs which are an expansion based which offer far more including new maps, new mechanics, enhancements to existing systems and the introduction of new systems as well as a large volume of new items. I am far more in favour of these expansion packs than the item packs, but a step in the right direction is a step at least. Don't get me wrong DLC has a place but I personally see it as more acceptable in the form of proper expansion packs and not for very select items/levels or content that is already in the game, and you are simply paying for a key to make it playable.

 

All in all the rework of systems like the building/landscaping system and the creating a sim system are overall ok. I feel far more in control, and it is much easier to manipulate items via dragging and a range of new controls as well as reworked old controls. What however is clear is that although things are working a lot smoother a lot of functions that were in The Sims 3 have been removed which is extremely disappointing. For example, something as simple as raising and lowering land is no longer possible, all plots are totally flat and have no proper geography to them. This makes all plots look very similar and leaves a lot of the imagination and creative focus increasingly on walls and the roof etc. I miss being able to create a nice green environment, working with odd terrain and using land levels effectively to create an interesting space. In addition to this pools are no longer a thing and cannot be purchased at all. It may be that they add this later in a pack but very frustrating when I have worked hard to make a mansion, and I can't have the giant swimming pool to go with it. I acknowledge the developer had a limited time and budget targets in which to create the game and any extra content they have planned. However, it would have been nice to see these simple yet important features in The Sims 4. My major concern is whether this may end up being segmented off into a paid only DLC, meaning some would be left without this function or if it could be part of a free update. Regardless I consider lot editing an incomplete system, and I hope they rectify this. I am hopefully that come The Sims 5 when Maxis have had more time to develop the new core system further they will be able to bring back some of these old features from previous iterations in the series which have been entirely left out in The Sims 4 and bolster the variety of content available for customisation.

 

One major issue that gets on my wick is all the loading screens. The Sims 3 was very minimal on the loading screens and kept the world open and instantly accessible. In contrast, The Sims 4 has plots of land in clusters, each of which is accessible at once. However, wish to venture outside of them expect a loading screen. This even includes going between plots of land on the same map and to top it off even with a fairly beasty PC the loading screens are fairly lengthy and interrupt the flow of the game.

 

All in all The Sims 4 does have some nice visual appeal, and I applaud what has been done so far with the new UI and core systems; they are far more fluid and interactive as well as offering the player far more control when building or making a sim. However, I am still left feeling empty and annoyed at the game for not just the lack of options when it comes to clothing but also the clear absence of features which really should be offered from day one. It screams rushed, and this idea is further reinforced to me after having heard from other associates of mine about their struggles on launch day where Sims would disappear mid conversation, run off and never appear again and a whole host of other major game-breaking bugs and other technical issues. Core elements of the game have been either failing horribly, neglected or not included. I'm sure with DLC and some bug fixing the game will significantly improve. From the DLC released so far, it has massively increased the game's scope and lifespan, and I expect for this to continue. I have particularly enjoyed the expansion which improves and changes the jobs system, and I am looking forward to the new expansion pack which is due for release shortly which focuses on flats and city living. I have no doubt in my mind I will keep playing Sims 4 for a bit but given I have the entire The Sims 3 expansion catalogue and a substantial amount of the extras which work perfectly fine I can see myself drifting back to The Sims 3. The Sims 3 can offer me far more customisation choice, doesn’t have the obnoxious loading screens and is far more stable. Why should I bother with The Sims 4? For those looking to jump into The Sims for the first time or someone who hasn't played since The Sims 2, the choice between 3 and 4 seems at present to be won by 3. The Sims 4 simply doesn't bring enough to the table, and with The Sims 3 being cheaper and fully accessible now I see little reason to invest in The Sims 4. If you are diehard The Sims fan I have no doubt you will still enjoy The Sims 4. I think however a lot of The Sims players will end up finding like myself that they would rather play the older games in the series and return to The Sims 4 when it is in a more complete state or skip in entirely and wait for 5. I'm looking forward to The Sims 5 as right now The Sims 4 feels like a tech demo for what is to come. I feel that if Maxis can learn some vital lessons from what has gone wrong this time round and further improve on some of the reworked systems and re-implement some crucial systems that are missing then The Sims 5 and could hold some serious potential.

 

Clearly, in The Sims 4, the developer has placed the focus on character moods, interaction and personality and reworked these from the bottom up to ensure that these are even more crucial to the game than ever before. I somewhat praise this brave move. However, in the meantime, we are left with what feels like a more shallow experience than ever in other areas, very buggy on launch and lacking in freedom of expression and content in significant areas.

 

Right now The Sims 4 doesn't feel like a well oiled full game, more of a tech demo of what is to come a few more years down the line. My opinion on this has been progressively changed with the integration of some much better quality DLC, but for some, I can't see the price tag making it accessible which is I feel a major issue when trying to get players on board with The Sims 4. As it stands, I am rating The Sims 4 at 67%, had the game not avoided putting in landscaping, completely ignored swimming pools, had a little more content choice built in and not been a buggy mess on launch I would have been more forgiving. I did play the game shortly after launch (within the first two weeks), and under those circumstances, I would have rated it around the 58-60% mark. The game has made some major improvements since launch. With further updates, I could even see this game easily surpassing 70%. I love the new UI and the principles behind the reinvention of the old systems, but it has a long way to go. Personally, I would get The Sims 3 if you don't already have it and hold out for The Sims 5 as it will most likely be what The Sims 4 should have been. It seems The Sims is going through a slightly awkward transition phase at present.

 

 

 

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