It’s finally here and many gamers are ecstatic. Earlier last week, Sims 4 hit the shelves and reached the homes of countless gamers. I, myself, have to admit that I’m happy the wait is over. For months, we’ve been waiting for a shiny new Sims game to keep us occupied. There are so many new things that are such a huge improvement on the previous games though there are just as many leaps backward in EA’s latest release of the game. Now before I get into that, let me say that after a week of exploring and telling myself that things will be improved as the expansions are released that I’m still not impressed. Dare I say that if you haven’t picked up Sims 4, you might be better off playing Sims 3 until they finally release Sims 5.
Now I did say there were some improvements that EA and Maxis have managed. First off is the new Create a Sim. Instead of the usual wall of sliders that most games have for character creations these days, Sims 4 lets you click and drag to “sculpt” your character. You want wider hips? Go ahead and drag them out instead of looking for a pesky slider that only does a third of the job. This feature also allows you a lot of intuitive detail work that cuts the time making a sim in half. Another new feature that has greatly improved the Sims experience is their all new mood system. Instead of having some basic happy/sad or good/bad moods, they’ve expended it so each mood has it’s own interaction options and overall effect on the sim itself. Some moods also generate special desires for a sim. So if your sim becomes embarrassed, they want to hide from everyone. When they are feeling playful, they want to joke and play pranks on others. It creates all new interactions for your sim world and gives more things to do. Yet that’s all well and good when the game is seamless.
Unfortunately there are so many things that were offered in the base game of Sims 3 that didn’t carry over. Lets start with the one of the most glaringly obvious problems for me, the customization. Sims has always been about customization (literally, there are forums for custom content and people sharing their sims and homes). In Sims 3, you could use a color wheel to change the color of nearly anything. This included hair color, clothes, and even your tattoos once they released that feature. Now in the Sims 4, you have around eighteen colors and most them are shades of the same color. Why is this a problem? Well, in my opinion, the least they could have done is offer the main primary and secondary colors along with black and white and they’d do fine. Instead, there are around three browns, three yellows, black, grey, a couple greens, a red, a pink, and some faded lavender. The other problem is that those colors are just for the hair. Eye colors are lacking and clothing color options are even more so. What it comes down to is unless you can mod the game yourself, you’re stuck hoping someone else has the same problems you do.
Now let me put on my Billy Mays voice and say, “But that’s not all!” If the options you are given don’t bother you (which I know I make weird and off the wall sims because I can), then you’ll exit the Create a Sim to find a much smaller map that seems akin to the original Sims world map with a graphics overhaul. Yeah, it looks pretty, but now you have a handful of houses in segregated neighborhoods. Even if you don’t cram all your sim families on the same block and have the biggest block party on this side of cyberspace, just to go next door leads to a loading screen. Back in Sims 3, you could send each of your sims in a different direction across the map and have each of them doing different things but you could still jump around and control them all. Now we’re back to the old Sims 2 way of things where you pick the people going with you outside of your house and you’re limited to them. So far I have not seen a way to jump between groups. So once you go for a stroll at the park with the kids, you can’t just leave them be to do their thing and go back home to hold a secret house party. It’s little things in the long run but as a long time gamer who has played all the Sims games to date including their attempt at Sims Online, I have a hard time understanding why you’d do something so innovative and put such creativity into the hands of the player then take it away. I have yet to meet a gamer that likes loading screens or that would tolerate ditching a functioning mechanic that gave freedom and seamless gameplay to the player.
So my final verdict on Sims 4 is that it, like many of EA’s recent games, aren’t very well thought out and are released without bothering to sort out any bugs. What bugs, you ask? Let me just say that I would not recommend having a baby in game unless you wish to have your very own star-spawn. Unfortunately many game developers are becoming more relaxed with the rise of online updates and DLC. So, should you play Sims 4? Well, I assume that none of the previously mentioned design choices will change much in the coming expansions. With that in mind, unless you find a really good mod or custom content, I’d keep to Sims 3 until the development and release of Sims 5.