Published on September 5th, 2014 | by Pipa Wolf0
The Sims 4 Review: Why You Should Wait A While
Developed by EA Maxis. Published by Electronic Arts. Released September 2, 2014. Available on PC.
The Sims is a franchise known for it’s ability to absolutely milk downloadable content, and The Sims 4 will be no exception. After The Sims 3 totalled over £355 for the complete package, the Sims 4’s £40 price tag feels reasonable, but it feels more like £40 for a half-finished game.
EA Maxis have been pretty protective of The Sims 4, not allowing anyone to review the game before it’s September 2nd release, and the day one patch shows why. The patch fixed a number of bugs included floating rooftops, scary noodle babies and character pathing issues. The patch also fixed a bizzare bug that put babies into players inventories where they could multiply. Reviews already trickling in from the US’s earlier release via Metacritic show very little sign of joy either, with many being left disappointed and asking for refunds. Currently, the game stands with a 3.7 user rating, just beating titles such as Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition and Ride to Hell Retribution. Incredible.
Bugs aside, the whole game leaves a lot to be desired. Stripping away the hundreds of pounds worth of DLC that give the other instalments of The Sims a sense of purpose, the game feels small and hollow. The list of absent features from the game is long and noticeable, and without fancy space suits, University life and swanky bars to hide its shortcomings, the whole game just feels lacking. The need to squeeze as much money out of the player is prominent and more obvious than it was with The Sims Marketplace (which is still a feature!). Back when The Sims was released, the game was a standalone with enough features to sustain gameplay for hours on end. The Sims 2 and Sims 3 followed suite with this, giving value for money on the base game alone, yet The Sims 4 feels like a step in completely the opposite direction.
The map is now segmented into various areas leaving the wonderful open world feel of The Sims much to be desired. Long loading screens await every time you wish to leave your small cul-de-sac to go to the park or to the nightclub. The game boasts “vibrant neighbourhoods with richer communities”, yet instead gives a few small houses with around thirty Sims walking around an area.
The list of absent features goes beyond just the flat, bland world, and into the actual gameplay. Once the absence of toddlers and pools was announced, the others kept coming. EA have removed not only the pools, but also “normal” jobs like police and business. They’ve also chosen not to include aliens, certain cheats, cars (no cars, not at all, not one) and Mac users. That’s right, Sims 4 will not be coming to Mac at all. The worst decision they’ve probably made though is to remove story progression and its incredibly obvious. There is no sense of purpose anymore and you find yourself making your gibberish babbling Sim wander around the small, imaginary fenced area wondering when they’ll next need to eat or pee.
I shouldn’t be too cynical though, although the game feels more like Sims 2.5, the new art style and added features are pretty awesome. The reworked Build Mode and Create a Sim are a really fantastic move forward with lots more tools to adjust your home and likeness into exactly what you desire. Updating the Blueprints feature in The Sims 3, The Sims 4 now has a function to place entire rooms into your house at the click of a mouse. Not only rooms can be added, but also entire houses and even Sims can be placed into your game from the ingame catalogue or The Sims Marketplace with efficiency and ease. New functions have been added to allow you to change the colour of objects at will without selling and rebuying and all the features have made building your house so much easier, even for the least coordinated of player. The efficiency steps over into Create A Sim, stripping back and completely changing the iconic Sims changing room into a faster and cleaner experience. You can now create a personality for your Sim using the way they walk and talk, different options are selectable for the animation of your Sim. The clothing creation is split up into several more categories, now including styled clothing as well as full outfits. Although my beloved colour wheel from the previous is nowhere to be found, the creation feels so much better, only taking a short while to create a reasonable looking Sim with a unique personality.
Other new features include the reworked UI and the capabilities of the Sims themselves. All needs and requirements are hidden now on a thin, sleek UI and have been reduced to nothing more than a large portrait of your over exaggerative Sim next to their comfort level. Everything is now done by mobile phone, and a tiny icon next to your Sim’s portrait allows you to make calls, send texts and surf the web like any modern Sim. A variety of new skills have also been added and no task is complete without a pop up explaining the new skill. New social interactions and emotions are available, something that does really give the game something to be incredibly positive about. Sims can now get angry and “rant and rave” at other sims as well as a while host of other unique interactions dependent on how your Sim is feeling. Performing tasks also capitalises on your Sims mood now, giving more depth to the game turning it into a trickier balancing act of their emotions. A final feature that really does show that EA tried to make progress with The Sims 4 is the multitasking capabilities of the Sims. Group chats are now available meaning you can pay attention to more than one person at a party, something that was incredibly frustrating in the previous games. Sims can now also cook and talk, watch TV and eat and a whole host of multiple different interactions to give your Sim a more “human” feel.
To sum everything up, The Sims 4 is a prettier, cleaner version of it’s predecessors. It plays host to vibrant colours, great building tools and better looking Sims. The Sims can now do so much more, but at the moment there is nothing really for them to do. The Sims 4 feels less like a great, full, inclusive game worth £40 and more like an Early Access for it’s inevitable expansions. The bugs and glitches leave a lot to be desired, and the small, empty, bland landscape does make you wonder what EA have been doing with their time. In an industry that constantly strives to better themselves and outdo their competitors and previous games, The Sims 4 is a bit of a disappointment, instead choosing to add more walls and limitations to its world rather than open them up. I’m not a fan of much DLC and I feel that if you’re paying for a game it should be able to stand up on it’s own and give you all the fun and enjoyment you expect. The 12 year old girl in me wants to enjoy the game and create an imaginary family with a Ryan Gosling as my husband, but the 21 year old cynic is looking at the price and comparing it to the empty foundations of a game that I’ve been given.