I love The Sims 4. LOVE IT. I have virtually no complaints. I bought the game on Friday and have been playing nonstop since then! And no, I am not getting paid by EA! ^__^ (Long post guys, but please read).
I’ve been with the Sims series since The Sims 1 graced the world in 2000! The Sims 1 was a blast—I loved the game’s cartoon-y humor and charm, and the challenge of keeping Sims alive and climbing career ladders provided hours of fun game play. I also fell in love with The Sims 2—TS2 Sims were so smart—smart and hilarious. TS2 had TS1’s wondrous humor with the major additions of aging and a 3D world.
I hate The Sims 3 and I have always believed it was a failure. TS3 Sims were dead, ugly, and lifeless, and they were EXTREMELY boring and dumb. My gameplay style is equal parts storytelling and equal parts watching what my Sims do. I could turn on “Free Will,” sit back and laugh at my Sims’ antics in TS1 and TS2. But whenever I tried that in TS3, my Sims did nothing but amble to the nearest bookshelf and read.
Another thing I hated about TS3 was the emptiness of the open world. The idea of an open world was wonderful, and was something I had always wished for while playing TS2. Yet, no matter where I went in TS3, the world was EMPTY, and it would take a Sim hour or two for townies to spawn in the area. It was so frustrating as a player to take my Sim to the park or to a museum and have my Sim be the only one there.
Finally, a big part of why TS3 Sims felt dead compared to TS2 and TS1 Sims was the whole “Moodlets” system. In TS2, a husband would cheat on his wife and the wife would be furious: sneering and frowning at her husband, and raging about the infidelity. I could see her emotions on her FACE and in her THOUGHTS. In TS3, the same situation would produce some sort of negative moodlet… and the betrayed Sim reacted minimally before continuing to be vapid, vacant, and pudding faced.
Because of all this, I was extremely nervous and worried that The Sims 4 would be an epic fail. Due TS3’s epic failure, the reports of so much missing content in TS4 (e.g. no toddlers, no pools, etc.), and the game’s vague, repetitive, and patronizing marketing campaign (“tactile and intuitive”; “EMOTIONS!”) I thought I would hate TS4. I was so nervous, that when my local Gamestop said they would not accept returns of opened games, I returned the physical copy I bought and re-bought the game via Origin so that I could return the game after 24 hours if I didn’t like it.
Thank God, it only took 15 minutes of playing TS4 for my fears to evaporate. This game is so much fun! The spirit of The Sims is back!
I don’t even know where to start—how about I start with marketing’s favorite word: EMOTIONS. TS4 Sims are alive because they feel things again. I have been pleasantly surprised to see that emotions do play a huge part in gameplay. My fear was that Emotions would be nothing more than glorified moodlets. But emotions do drive gameplay because your Sims’s mood actually affects what s/he wants to do and affects what they do in the moment. This setup also gives the player a lot of control in steering their Sims lives if the player wants it.
Explanation: Whenever your Sim is in an emotional state, they have a Whim (like TS2 “Wants”) that directly corresponds with the state. (I am impressed with how organic and right the Whims feel. Whims are based on a Sim’s emotional state, their personality, and their aspiration). Each emotional state also has actions that directly correspond with the state. These actions are helpful to the player for transitioning Sims into and out of emotional states, as each emotional state has its benefits (and drawbacks). Finally, (most importantly for my style of gameplay) your SIm’s emotional state WILL affect the actions s/he takes autonomously.
Example: my Sim Amethyst Jewel and her fiance, Deandre almost argued themselves out of a relationship one night. Jewel is Hot-Headed, which means sometimes, she is Angry for no reason. Deandre became Angry after he was talking to a townie and she insulted him. Then, he came home to Amethyst and, because he was Angry, insulted her after kicking over the trash can. This resulted in Amethyst becoming Very Angry, and so guess what? As the couple ate dinner, they exchanged insults and jabs, tit-for-tat like a tennis match. Both Sims had whims of wanting to be Mean, but, again, what impressed me was that they fulfilled these whims themselves, with no prodding from me. I had to step in and intervene before they lost their relationship altogether!
This brings me to my next point: the Sims are ALIVE, because they actually do things without me telling them to! It sounds silly, but as I stated before, my problem with The Sims 3 was its dreadful artificial intelligence (AI). My definition of good gameplay in The Sims is the AI of the SIms: how smart they are. How “aware” are they of their world and their roles in it? That’s the whole point of simulation playing—for the Sim to be “alive.” It breaks my immersion in my virtual “dollhouse” when I feel as if my Sim is pile of clay (or pudding) instead of a simulated being.
I am REALLY impressed with social interactions and how they are set up. When you first click on a Sim, the pie menu shows interactions that are contextual: appropriate actions for your Sims to take based on the conversation—yet another feature that makes the Sims feel more alive. (You can click through the initial pie menu to see the traditional “Romance,” “Friendly,” etc. bars). But that isn’t even the impressive part: the way that Sims relate to each other is so much more realistic—it’s really fun to watch! On that note, multi-tasking is AWESOME. I keep having to remind myself that I don’t have to stop my Sims from eating for them to talk (…or flirt, or insult or blow a kiss!) to another Sim.
The Sims and the world around them are absolutely GORGEOUS, and it’s not just the art style (which I love). A couple people who had early access to the game said this but I didn’t believe them at the time: the game looks much better in-game than in screenshots. It’s true!
Not only is the world beautiful, but it is CHOCK-FULL of Sims. There are Sims EVERYWHERE, all the time! Literally, the sidewalk outside my Sims’s houses is always full of Sims streaming by. Another feature I love is that Sims can now visit you again. I missed that feature from the first 2 games because it was absent in Sims 3. Sims you meet and befriend will come to your house and knock on the door; they will also call you and ask to come over.
Finally, loading screens are not a big deal at all. 1) As a player of TS1 and TS2, I’m used to them, 2) they last 10-30 seconds, and 3) TS3 lagged so much that, despite its open world, I spent MINUTES sometimes waiting for a world to load fully… and it honestly took 10-20 MINUTES sometimes for my game to load initially.
The few complaints I have so far are: accessing the Gallery in-game lags a bit for me; the lighting on the inside of houses and buildings is too dark (like, seriously, you’ll see in the pictures I upload, everything is so dark inside!); Sims’ last names do not change after marriage, and there seems to be no attraction system—in TS2 there were “Turn Ons” and “Turn Offs,” and when a Sim was attracted, you would see a thought bubble of the Sim they liked with hearts blooming around it… but there seems to be nothing like that in TS4 which makes the Sims seem less real to me.
I feel as though I’m only scratching the surface of why I love this game, but these are my thoughts so far. GOOD JOB SIMS TEAM! They CLEARLY put a lot of work into the base programming of this game, which has resulted in lots of fun for me :)
My hope going forward is that EA returns to the spirit of TS1 and TS2 and releases expansion packs that are FULL of content. Since this is the 4th go-around, I would expect to see the old expansion pack themes combined… for example, Seasons and Pets (or something like that).
Thanks for reading! <3