The Sims is an amazing franchise, unique and expansive with no other title to compare it with. The Sims is also almost 15 years-old at this point, meaning that the original audience that skyrocketed the early Sim-games into popularity are slowly leaving the coveted demographic. That means it’s time to bring-in some new players, at least from a sensible business model, because the older ones are starting to fade-away from gaming’s spotlight.
I too was an original Sims player, and at 25 I’m slightly older than the key-demo would like, but old enough that I’ve been with the franchise since the original title debuted back in 2000. Since the early days of Sim-history, the abilities and AI construction of the Sims has improved and expanded drastically. What players have been able to create and simulate with their Sims over the past decade, is nothing short of remarkable.
The Sims as a whole has had the luxury of using each previous title in the franchise as a tutorial for the latest offering, each player picking up new tactics and traits from the previous game, without having to re-learn how to play the game entirely. This has made each version of the Sims more and more expansive, but also harder to jump into for new players. Sims 3 is a gradual improvement for anyone that played Sims 1 or 2, but if you were to enter the franchise at that stage, it could be a bit overwhelming to manage. There-in is the blessing and curse of the Sims 4.
The latest installment is the best introduction to the series since the original Sims was created. Creating a Sim is easier than ever, the tutorials and management are simplistic and fairly quick, and the UI is clean and organized; at least to new players. If you are an older player, all of this might seem watered-down, and the divergence from the original formula and menu UI, might seem more of a hassle than you had hoped for when the game was first announced. Though the game does go to great lengths to allow players to implement much of the Sims 3 UI and gameplay as possible.
Everyone knows that the Sims 4 base-release is just the starting template of what will be a massive shopping season of Sims 4 DLC and other offerings. Older players may be hoping that some of the ‘missing’ features and details from other Sims games could be on their way to the Sims 4, but since none are detailed yet, we can only report on what was included in the original download.
What players will find in this new installment are amazingly adaptive and intuitive Sims to control, love and explore. New improvements like multitasking makes assigning tasks to your Sims quick and painless, and makes it much easier to manage more than one Sim in a household. This new feature lets your Sims workout or level up a skill while also talking and interacting with others in the room. It’s a wonderful addition and makes everything seem much more natural and realistic.
I loved the new Sim Creator and the new building/construction user interface. Pre-made room templates, plenty of sub-categories to find specific items to add to your home, and other terrific UI mapping features make decorating and remodeling your domicile easier than ever.
The characteristics, traits, personalities and aspirations that you can implement on your Sim is awe-inspiring from a creative standpoint. It is now easier than ever to create a Sim with a specific personality in mind, or to re-create a personality that you may know in real life. I found re-creating personalities, modeled after my friends, to be the most amusing. Anything from “hates children” to “materialistic” adds specific personality traits to each created Sim that will become important tasks later on. Adjusting a Sims’ outward appearance is also easier and much more streamlined, though older players may prefer earlier installments of the Sims Creator.
The social and personal “Gallery” is a feature that I think both new and experienced players will truly enjoy. You can upload and store your Sims (or the entire families that you create) to share or use whenever you need them into a cloud-like staging area. Maxis also added a much needed search-bar to the UI, making it much easier to find specific items that you would like to add, or need for a specific quest or job.
Depending on the personality and aspirations of your Sim, your avatar will have wants and needs that you will have to attend to throughout the day. This could be as simple as “admire art” to as complicated as “admire art on a date at the museum.” By fulfilling these wants and needs each Sim will be rewarded with points that you can use later-on to buy one-time use potions, items, and other quick fixes that you will find useful to combat many of the Sims’ daily problems.
Sims 4 is a remarkable addition to the franchise, but since it lacks the same downloadable content offerings of its predecessors, it could come across as incomplete to older players. No developer can please everyone, and with a franchise as expensive as the Sims, there will never be a perfect game that can be both perfect for new gamers, and fit for pro-Sim players. This installment felt like the developers were more focused on teaching and attracting new players, rather than building on the player-base that may have been already familiar with the game. To me, that’s a decision not a problem, at least in regards to reviewing the game.
I personally really enjoyed my time with the Sims 4, the multitasking and sharing abilities that were added makes playing larger households much easier, and a lot less trivial, when managing the day-to-day operations. If you are new, or fairly new to the series and are looking for a jumping-in installment, this would be the perfect opportunity to do so. If you are a seasoned vet that is on the fence, you could probably wait until more DLC is released.
Either way Sims 4 was entertaining, challenging and a lot of fun to experience. It’s amazing to witness what Maxis can do with the AI and construction elements with each new installment and if you are a fan of the series there is still a lot to love.