The Sims 4 is the latest addition to the Sims franchise and being the fourth game in one of the best selling PC games series’ of all time, there are high expectations for the game from fans and players around the world. Since obtaining the game I have put close to 30 hours into it and for the most part thoroughly enjoyed my experience with the Sims 4.
One of the things that impressed me the most with the game when I first started playing it was how smooth and efficient the game was. When playing The Sims 3, things often took some time to load for me and I would get the occasional lag for no reason (other than probably my computer was too slow) but with The Sims 4, I didn’t really have this issue and even with a 5 year old laptop I was able to run the game quite well. Although I did switch to a more powerful computer to play it on the max settings later on for the review.
For those who are wondering about the graphics of The Sims 4 on older PC’s/Laptops I have one video below which I recorded. This was taken using a HP DV5 Laptop which I bought back in 2009. It is a 32 Bit Laptop, with 4GB RAM and Intel Core Duo 2.14 GHz. The game plays okay on there, but obviously not as nice as something on the high settings. What’s interesting though is that actually on that same laptop I can run the Create A Sim part of the game on there on the maximum settings available in the game. I can also play the game on max settings in the live mode, but it lagged on there once I started walking around. On the laptop with those specs, I ended up on medium graphics settings. With The Sims 4 it seems the creators have gone for a game that can run on almost any computer out there in the market today and I will give them some points for that effort, because I tested this and it worked for me quite well.
When you first start playing The Sims 4 you will be taken to the new create a sim area so that you can actually create your Sim. The new CAS area is all about moulding your Sim. You can click and drag certain body parts to make your Sim fat or skinny, or strong or weak. You can grab their nose, eyes, breast, legs, arms or their head and are able to make these parts larger or smaller to your liking. I quite liked the CAS part of the game, it’s super easy to use and create your Sim. Here’s some Sims I created in the game.
In the create a Sim area there is also the ability to choose your traits and aspirations. Traits are the characteristics that will make up your Sims personality and the aspirations area is all about what they are going to aim for in their life. There is a large variety of these to choose from when you are making your Sim and they do have an effect on the gameplay and what you are going to be doing once you take your Sim into the live mode. For my Sim Adeline, her aspirations and traits meant that she would desire to make other Sims angry and become a public enemy, meaning she wanted other Sims to hate her. This meant that I would need to do mischievous and evil things to other Sims all the time and even fight them to do so. Other aspirations might involve gardening which would mean you need to well… do gardening things… Other aspirations might be around having a nice family and buying children many toys, it ranges depending on what you choose and how you like to play.
Once you are done creating your Sim you will be ready to move into your new home. You will be quickly taken to the world screen which consists of a series of neighbourhoods to choose from. In The Sims 4 there are only 2 worlds which are Oasis Springs and Willow Creek. Oasis Springs is a desert world full or dirt and sand and Willow Creek is a green park like world with water flowing through it.
In terms of these new worlds in the Sims 4, I didn’t think they were super spectacular. For me they felt limited and closed, but actually they are supposed to be connected together. In The Sims 4 there are loading screens between each place that you go, one if you want to see your neighbour, one if you want to go to the gym, one if you want to well…. go anywhere really. Except for the neighbourhood you are in, in which you can walk around the footpaths and visit the public spaces such as the community gardens or fishing areas. I have a video of this from my preview post where I had loaded a neighbours house beforehand and then walked around a bit before visiting their home.
The neighbourhoods, the worlds and the loading screens are the main thing I do not like about The Sims 4. The reason being is that when you are in your home everything is all good, but venture out and you get stuck loading the next area, and then again on the way back. Not only is it annoying, but you can’t actually see what’s in that area from your home. So to me it feels like that area doesn’t exist unless I actually go an have a look. But the problem is, that actually the other areas and other Sims homes do exist in your world when you are not there. While I was in one of my households and enjoying my time with it, my other Sim family down the street aged and died and when I went back to play as them I couldn’t anymore, they were dead! But I never really felt I was connected with them over there, I didn’t see them in my street or walking around, but it surprised me. I think due to the loading and the isolation that it causes I didn’t feel connected to the other households, to me they always felt separate to what I was doing when I wasn’t in them. But actually they were connected and ageing occurs at the same time for all of them, unless you turn it off of course which I did, because I didn’t want my Sims dying when I wasn’t playing with them.
Once you actually move into your house and start living in there things start to get a lot more interesting. Depending on the lot you chose you’ll either start off by building your new home or you’ll already have one and might be looking for a job or just watching TV or reading a book. Or exploring your little neighbourhood, either way it’s up to you what you do with your Sim and that’s always been the great thing about The Sims. Everybody plays the game in a different way, some will use the money cheat right away and build massive homes while others will work their way up the career ladder, the experience is really what you choose and in The Sims 4 you are free to do so.
Most of the time when I play the game I like to climb up the career tracks and earn money, I usually buy a pool and make my home something awesome over time, although in the Sims 4 you can’t buy the pools anymore (maybe with an expansion someday though). But that’s not really such a big deal, climbing up the career tracks were similar to what happens in other Sims games from the past where you needed to level up your skills, like cooking, charisma or logic in order to progress. But in The Sims 4 there is now the need to complete these mini tasks such as looking for intelligence on the computer if you’re in the spy career or if you are in the tech career you will need to practice programming for four hours in one of your days in order to progress. I liked that there was an added element to this and I did mention in my preview of the game that I was very interested to to explore what happens at the later levels. But it always just stays at simple tasks, sometimes you might have to do two of them to get promoted, but it was always the same, hopefully expansions will add more careers into the game as well with more fun things to do.
The mini text based events from previous Sims games also pop up from time to time where you get to make a decision for your Sim at their workplace. At first I thought you couldn’t do anything with your Sim when they go off to work because you can’t even see what their needs bars are like when they are gone. But actually you can, if a player clicks on their Sims portrait while they are at work there are a variety of options like work harder, slack off or socialise with other Sims. Sometimes if you have the tasks ticked off and your Sim went to work in a good mood and you choose work harder, you might get promoted a bit easier. Careers were kind of a mixed feature of the game, when I played with just one Sim in my household and they went to work I felt that they just disappeared for ages (it really needs cars back), it’s more fun to have 2 or more Sims so you can do something while they are gone. I did like completing the careers though and unlocking the items that become available to you from reaching certain stages, so it’s a bit of a mixed experience with the careers.
Going to work didn’t actually end up being my favourite thing to do in the Sims 4. My favourite thing for me in The Sims 4 was the little moments and social interactions between Sims that made the game feel special to play. What I liked the most from my week with the game was the moment when I had my Sim gardening and their kid came over and started chatting to them and watched them do their gardening, she was even holding a little drink! I kind of felt like, well that such a great and cute moment for me in the game, it felt like my Sims did have a relationship and a connection together, it was so nice! It made me think, The Sims 4 is a really nice game and it’s full of moments like these.
Gardening and fishing were my favourite things to do in the game. The gardening in The Sims 4 is all about starting a small garden which you need to buy seeds for, plant them and water them. But you need to be able to keep this up each and every day otherwise your garden will start to fail and die. When the time is right, you can harvest your fruit and vegetables. When you level up your skill you can learn to do other things with your garden such as grafting or taking samples to look at under the microscope. It’s a fun way to pass the time in the game, although if you make your garden massive, it might take your Sim all day to water it and weed it! If you want you can also make your Sim talk to their plants and you can get your social bar up from it, which is weird. But Sims are meant to be weird in this game, with weird stories, maybe talking to your plants is what they meant.
Fishing in The Sims 4 is also fun and you level up you skill in a similar way to gardening, you need to keep at it to get better which will allow your Sim to do more things like use bait or catch different fish in different areas. It’s a good way to pass the time for your Sim and you can catch quite a lot of fish at times. Fishing and gardening were the main things I sent my Sims to do. But of course there is also painting, stargazing and a whole variety of activities you can do in The Sims 4.
Another thing you can do in The Sims 4 is dating other Sims so that you can start a family later on. I failed the majority of my dates, but when you do a good one, things can work out well for your Sim. You can actually start flirting with other Sims on your dates or have your Sims emotional state impact on what happens when you are there. They are fun, but it would have been nice to have a restaurant location to go to rather than the bar or something more romantic than the choice of Gym, Bar, Club or library!
Emotions can be fun at times as well, Sims switch between flirty, uncomfortable, confident or angry to name a few. These emotional states impact on what you are doing in the game, for example if your Sim becomes embarrassed then an interaction with the bed becomes available for them to hide away there for a bit, or if they are angry they can take an angry poop or if confident they will have other things. Some of them are funny at times and some of them can be annoying. A lot of the time my Sim was uncomfortable and kept being uncomfortable, it seemed to be the most common emotional state no matter what Sim I played with. Overall I didn’t mind the emotions, it gave me something to do and it was good to see how my Sim was feeling at certain times.
The Sims is also all about living and starting and family, but for me when I did it, I didn’t mind when my child got to the kid stage, but when they were in the baby stage there wasn’t really much to do with them. I couldn’t move them around, they seemed locked to their crib and you just feed them and change them. It wasn’t that fun with the baby at that stage of the game. The kid stage was good though and as I said earlier, the interactions at the garden were my favourite moments in the game. I like how the kid walks around and chats to their parents, it’s so nice! I kind of wish there was more work put into the baby though and the toddler stage of course is missing from the game completely.
One of the things that happened with my family household with the kid was that when I went away as mentioned earlier and played with a different Sims family, I later discovered when I returned to this one that both the parents were deceased and the kid was now a teenager living alone. I didn’t like this because I put a lot of work into these Sims and I felt a connection to them, so from now on I always play with the ageing off. But anyway, teenagers have their own set of careers that are different to adults as they still need to attend school. I felt that this was an interesting part of the game and I liked that there was something where I could just play as a teen only. It was very different to playing as an adult Sim and all my teen’s friends were kids or other teens. It was an interesting time.
The build mode is something else that has changed and also improved in The Sims 4. It’s much easier to now build a home and scale it and move the rooms and pick your items. It works by having the player click and drag the walls to their liking and even comes with some pre-made rooms for you to choose from. For example say you want to build a kitchen, but can’t be bothered, just pick one of the premade ones and fit it to your home. I’m not very good at building homes but a lot of people are and I think the new build mode comes with the features you need to build something great. I’ve already seen some great stuff on the Sims 4 gallery from the community so I know that some great things can come from there. You can see below what I built in the game, it was my best house and when the bills arrived to my Sims home they were $9,000!
With the items in the game that you can place into your house from the “Buy Mode’ most of them are readily available to you and all you need is in game money to purchase them for your Sim which you can get by working or selling art work or things like that, or by cheating of course. But you can’t buy just anything you want in The Sims 4, some things are locked and are not available until you do something to unlock them such as climbing to the end of a career track for example. I liked this feature a lot because it made me feel like I was playing something that has a “game” component if you know what I mean, I had to to work to unlock it and then there was a reward. It was a game and it’s different to previous games but I liked it. It’s not on a lot of items, overwhelmingly they are all unlocked, but it was nice having a few things you needed to work on in the game to get. Same with the achievements as well which I haven’t got many of, but as I keep playing the game in the coming weeks I’m going to try to get more of those. These features were good for people like me who like to unlock things.
The final thing I have to say about The Sims 4 is that not only is there quite likely going to be a lot of expansions on the way as with previous games in the series which add a lot of content and a lot of improvements which I have to say are needed for this game. I for one would really like to see cars come in for when you go to work and pools as well and others probably have other demands. But there is also massive community support in the Sims. There is already a large amount of mods and custom content available out there on the internet for you to try out with your game and it’s only been out for a week and it’s all free! I imagine in a year from now, there will be so much content and mods available that a player will be kept busy with them for months. While the expansions are okay, the strength in the series will come from the community in the future. I don’t really know how to create anything myself (I would like to learn) but I do like using what people create, so I’m definitely looking forward to see how that all goes in the future.
Overall I really enjoyed my experience with The Sims 4. While it does have some things missing from previous games like cars or pools which I miss and the two worlds aren’t really that big to play with which I see as a flaw with the new game compared to the older ones. The Sims 4 makes up for it with a well designed and efficient game that is capable of running on a variety of people’s computers and the content within the base game is enough to keep someone busy for a lot of hours. I mean I’ve put in close to 30 hours with the game and while I think I’ve looked at everything I”m no where near finished all the achievements or careers or skill levels.For me the game had a few special moments in it and I truly think it’s a nice game to play. All the Sims are so happy and it’s the little things that make a difference and the small attention to detail that makes the Sims experience special. I’m sure many people will find that they have a lot to do in their game and everyone plays differently. I would happily recommend this game to my friends, I liked it a lot and I’m going to keep playing it over the coming weeks.