The Sims 4 Initial Review

I’ll be honest, I wasn’t really excited when The Sims 4 was announced way back when. In fact, I was still enjoying The Sims 3. I thought it was too soon for a new Sims game. This was intensified when I heard there would be no toddler stage in the game! I didn’t care about pools really, so what? But toddlers?

At this point, I was pretty sure I wasn’t getting this game. Then I got my first taste of the gameplay from a Maxis live broadcast and it changed everything! There are few games that make me so excited like with GTA and my friend Mark. Zelda is one I usually pre-order as soon as it’s announced. Pretty much any Mario game will do the same. Then of course it’s The Sims. Ever since I played the first Sims game I’ve been hooked. This year was the first time I actually thought about not pre-ordering.

In the live broadcast, I saw things that made me feel better about the game. I slowly changed my mind and now I’m sitting here with my Origin digital copy, writing this review and thinking about how long I might play today! An all day Sim fest might be in order. I’ll first start by saying what I like and then what I don’t like or think needs fixing. Then I’ll add a short little summary, how bout that? Oh and for those of you who were wondering, the short video is Mark Mushakian showing off his dance moves to hopefully my future bride. Ahh, I mean in the Sims game. 😉

To me, there are four main features that make this game a huge improvement to The Sims 3. First of course is the graphics. If you compare Sims 3 to Sims 4, you can tell they have similar styles. I notice objects and background art the most in terms of improved graphics. Sure the sims themselves look better and if you did a side by side you would notice a difference, but I feel that the objects and backgrounds in The Sims 4 are more noticeably improved. The game is mush more colorful and vibrant. Kind of reminds me of Plants Vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare.

I love bright colors and I feel the “cartoon” look the series has used is much improved in The Sims 4. We aren’t really talking about the graphical jump from Sims 1 to Sims 2, but it’s still significant. The game runs pretty well on my two year old Alienware laptop, so you really won’t need to buy a new computer unless you are still using Windows 98. Another neat thing is that since the game uses DirectX 9.0, you can play the game on Windows XP.

The second thing that I think is big is how emotions work in the game. Now your sim can express emotions in a much more life-like way. You feel sad, your actions relate to that sadness. Another cool thing is that you can try to cheer up a sad sim. Susan, one of my sims, is friendly and outgoing. She likes to cheer up sad sims and it’s fun to do. She’s pretty good at it too! Certain emotions unlock different behaviors and there are some actions you can’t do. I like this as it makes the game more realistic. As a student of psychology, I love seeing how sims interact with each other when in different emotional states. Some people may scoff at advanced emotions being over-hypped, but for me I think they make the game more immersive.

Third, multi-tasking. In The Sims 3, there were some instances where it looked like Sims were doing two things at once. In The Sims 4, almost any activity allows your sim to also talk to another sim and sometimes do a third thing. This applies to almost any action, so it feels more realistic. I can talk to someone, eat, and watch TV. So can my sim! They also move around much more realistically. They look and feel more animated, more human. I haven’t really stopped and let the autonomy system do it’s thing yet. I like to control every part of the lives of my sims! Eventually I’ll be able to see how well they make their own decisions.

Finally, the fourth thing I think is really a big improvement is the loading times. I understand that having more loading screens seems like a downer, but I feel it’s a big improvement. Even on this computer, it takes about two to three minutes to load my Sims 3 save. In The Sims 4, it’s less than a minute to get to the main menu and load my save. I can get into the game much faster. Yeah, there are loading screens anytime I want to visit a new lot, but they are pretty quick. Just a few seconds. Granted I have a hybrid SDD drive, but I think even with a standard hard drive the loading times should be quick. It’s a good trade off. I don’t want to wait too long to get into the game, even if it means I have more loading screens. Plus, this means the computer doesn’t have to load the whole town at once, so the game runs smoother.

Ok, now on to the few problems I’ve run into. Like usual, there’s clipping, when a sim passes through an object or wall. I’m pretty used to this as it’s been in every sims game. So far it’s been light, so it’s not a huge deal. In a perfect world, there would be no clipping at all, but I don’t think it’s game breaking. As far as sims clipping each other, I saw it happen twice in my game so far. Most of the time the sims make a good effort to move around each other. I had Susan on the side walk talking with some neighbors and there was a lot of activity. All the sims passing by managed to move around Susan and her neighbors. At this time, it seems like clipping is a minor issue. It could change as I play more today, so we’ll see.

Another bug I encountered was that at some point I noticed that Susan was carrying a spoon in her hand every where she went. At first I thought since her aspiration was to become a chef and that she was in the culinary career track that it was intentional, but then she started cooking again. The spoon flew around the kitchen while she cooked and I could tell it was a bug! I’ll see if the spoon is still there when I play today. Hopefully I just need to delete the cache files to fix it!

Another thing that I have noticed is that sometimes my sim (that’s the sim version of me) comes over to Susan’s and after staying a while he will say, “Well I should get going,” but doesn’t leave. Perhaps it’s because I had a social action with him cued up at the time. Other times when sims say they are leaving, they leave. There are little things like this that confuse me. I’m not sure if this is a bug or is intentional. I also notice that if you say goodbye to a guest, he or she will not leave until you “ask them to leave.” Saying goodbye to your guest should be a hint. 😉

The last thing I will say is how much I wish toddlers were in the game! That’s right, they are annoying and whiny, but so much fun! I loved seeing infants and toddlers wake up their parents and then seeing the parents yelling at their kids for waking them up. I loved pushing the toddlers in strollers and teaching them stuff. It’s really the only missing feature that I actually, miss. I certainly don’t miss the attraction system and hearing about every sim who is attracted to me. I won’t miss the constant phone calls with sims asking me out on dates (though might not be so bad in real life!). I won’t miss pools for now, would like them eventually, but I can live without them for a while. But, please give me toddlers!

The bottom line? While I haven’t explored much of the game world yet (the first few hours I spent at my sims house and visiting with neighbors) I have to recommend this game. As a caution, I’ve only had the game for a little while, so this is my first impression. If you are a big fan of The Sims series, then buying this game is a no brainer. If you are on the fence, I’d say get the digital version on Orgin. You can try it for up to 24 hours and if you don’t like it you can get a refund. Not a bad deal since there is no regular demo of the game.

I think this game has real potential and it can only get better. I feel that so far there aren’t a lot of bugs for a newly released game, though this could change as I continue playing. Having emotions and seeing how they effect sims is fun and the multi-tasking feature is very much welcomed. Also, the user interface is a major improvement. I forgot to mention that, so really there are FIVE things that are huge improvements in The Sims 4! I haven’t experienced most of the game yet, so my opinion could change, but I’d say the good outweighs the bad.

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2 thoughts on “The Sims 4 Initial Review

  1. Once again, ladies.. my real-life dance moves are even MORE impressive!

    So, Scott David Brown, why do you think they excised some of the elements that they did? Future pay-wall expansion? Bizarre redirection that nobody really wants (ala the new SimCity)?

  2. They said that they left out toddlers and pools in order to focus on the new features. I think that is believable, especially with pools, but I don’t see how adding toddlers would have been as difficult. I think they will add those eventually and hopefully for free. As far as Sim City goes, I feel this game is a better launch. I don’t feel like the missing features are as bad as with what they did with Sim City.

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