Published on September 3rd, 2014 | by Cheryl CS0
Sims and Simsibility
I spent junior high delighting in the originality of the first instalment of The Sims. I spent the last year of high school rejoicing in the majesty of The Sims 2’s expansion packs. And I spent a solid chunk of my university career relearning Simlish with The Sims 3. All that being said, there was no way I couldn’t buy the fourth instalment of the game and hope for more greatness.
Now, I’m only a few hours in, but I’m already optimistic. It’s been an epic few hours.
First of all, The Sim 4 runs surprisingly smoothly. My desktop is a somewhat-outdated gaming computer with a great graphics card and a dual core processor, so it’s not exactly top-of-the-line. And yet, I didn’t have a single issue. Everything loaded quickly, the game itself ran smoothly, and screen scrolling didn’t falter or lag (which is one of my biggest pet peeves).
The Build-A-Sim function is outstanding. Simmers are raving over the sheer customizability of the thing.
One of the main worries I had regarding The Sims 4 was whether or not it would be different enough. Would it bore me with a tired rehash of what had already come before or would it blow my mind with innovation? So far, it’s leaning towards the latter. What I have seen has been a welcome improvement to older versions of the game.
For instance, the Build-A-Sim function is outstanding. Simmers are raving over the sheer customizability of the thing. No longer will pear-shaped ladies have to settle for either skinny or fat sims. No more shall we sigh over the pathetic choice of jawlines.
With the new Build-A-Sim, you can click and grab practically any aspect of your Sim’s body and pull it, tweak it, reshape it into your desired final product. You can make your Sims top heavy, with muscular calves, and a nose to rival Professor Snape. You can give them a podgy middle and skinny thighs. Broad shoulders or saggy breasts. The opportunities are endless.
As with The Sims 3, there are aspirations and personality traits you can assign to your Sim. There aren’t that many to choose from, but what they do offer tends to cover everything you’d probably need. I was personally impressed by three traits in particular, which I tend to assign to my real life self: Foodie, Geek, and Dislikes Children. Oh, EA, you guys just get me.
Noncommittal is an interesting new [trait]—your Sim will become dissatisfied if one aspect of their life (i.e. job, relationship) continues on for too long.
There are, of course, still the usual traits to choose from, such as Romantic, Perfectionist, and Slob. Noncommittal is an interesting new one, though—your Sim will become dissatisfied if one aspect of their life (i.e. job, relationship) continues on for too long. Materialistic is another great one. Just punch in that cheat code and give your Sim every consumer good they could possibly want. Note: It’s “rosebud” and “motherlode” this time.
The gaming interface isn’t much different from The Sims 3—I switched the camera-scrolling abilities to match the last game because I like complete control, but either way would work for a Sim newbie. And, while 3 had the open world concept, 4 offers a reduced version of this that works well: it separates out by neighbourhood. You can visit several areas by walking to them, but you have to travel (i.e. a loading screen) to a different neighbourhood. This offers an open world feel without having to worry that one Sim is getting up to mischief on one area on the map while trying to manage social interactions in another. And it also doesn’t limit your Sim to one measly lot at a time.
One of the things I noticed right off the bat—and which was emphasized by those handy pop-up Tips—was that these Sims have greater autonomy. Rather than stand there for a chunk of time before deciding to read a book, my Sim constantly decided to perform actions on her own if I left her alone for a split second. Some of her choices were purely whimsical (Use Crazy Eyes on another person). Many of her choices were social-oriented (whip out a cell phone and send a text while eating dinner).
It’s extremely amusing to see your Sim whip out her cell phone and send a text while eating dinner.
One of the biggest differences in this game is the amped up social and multitask actions. If your Sim is around other people, they’ll chat with them while reading a book, playing a game, watching TV, and more. Most of the time, you don’t even need to make them chat—they’ll do it on their own. I haven’t explored the full range of social interactions yet, but I can already see the significant changes towards a more social, integrated Sim.
As for what’s missing, EA has removed pools and toddlers. Rather than having to worry about those pesky toddlers crawling all over the place, you can skip that step. Baby grows into child. As a Sim who Dislikes Children, this doesn’t faze me much, but I do think that the launch-day glitch of weird noodle babies is fairly hilarious.
The great and terrifying nature of this is simply that the Sims are becoming more like us…
The removal of pools doesn’t really bother me, either. Did anyone ever actually use pools? Other than to cause death by drowning, I mean? They make the house you built from scratch look spectacular, I’ll grant you that, but I personally disliked watching my Sim wade around in the water for hours. The fitness skills didn’t develop fast enough and it was boring. EA will likely bring in pools at a later date (thank you, expansion packs), but there’s so much more on offer with this game that I really don’t care.
My first impression of The Sims 4 has been a good one. This game is much more a simulation of whimsy, social interaction, and freedom than its predecessors. The great and terrifying nature of this is simply that the Sims are becoming more like us…and what would be the point of a simulation if it didn’t reflect honestly on reality?
CC cover photo credit: Electronic Arts and Maxis