This review will be from the perspective of a humble ‘console scrub’, mostly due to not being made of money. I don’t do a huge amount of gaming, and buying a PC when it wouldn’t be used, is difficult to justify. As you will probably realise, I’m not, in any way, a professional reviewer like, Mr Toast. I’m just his fiancé who plays some Sims, with a dash of Animal Crossing.
‘Woohoo’ And Murder
Just in case you’ve managed to spend the last 20 years or so living under a very large rock, the Sims 4 is, amazingly, a simulator. You create your character, or ‘Sim’, then you live their life, as well as the lives of their family. It’s a simple concept, that has very little representation outside of the Sims itself, making it somewhat unique. You can choose to get a job, have kids, ‘woohoo’ in a bush with reckless abandon, including with married Sims – they just take more convincing. Honestly though, what makes the Sim aspect of The Sims so satisfying is figuring out unique and creative ways to kill your creations.
The act of creating a Sim is actually very simple as the game allows you to click and drag parts of your sims face and body to mould the perfect being. You also have the option to choose from some pre-set options – in case you get a bit carried away with your clicks and drags and end up with something a bit scary. There are plenty of options for hair styles and colours, make up, tattoos, clothes and shoes, however things get a bit crazy when you start factoring in expansions (more on that in a bit). With every pack you purchase, more options become available, allowing you to create yourself, and others, with an almost scary amount of accuracy. Naturally this makes it all the more entertaining when you kill them. You can create one sim or a whole extended family of sims this way.
Are They Real?
Your sims will have a personality, up to a point. During creation you can assign your sim aspirations and personality traits from a surprisingly expansive list. These change how your sim will act when on ‘autopilot’, and how other sims will react to them in some cases. If you want to be a physically abusive arsonist, well the sims will have you covered on some level. Despite this, I don’t think the developers went far enough with this system. Whilst it does impact your sim, that impact is not anywhere near as much as i’d have liked. I can jump between any number of sims, and the experience will mostly be the same. I want my sims to love things, hate things even, but as of right now, that isn’t really a thing.
Creating a sim, or a family of sims, is one thing, but how about building? How does that hold up? In short, incredibly well. You can create a vast array of builds, across an equally vast amount of styles. Similar to creating sims, creating anything from a tiny bungalow to an expansive mansion, to a monolithic castle is as simple as clicking a dragging various wall tools. You can even go as far as creating a surprisingly complex series of underground tunnels using the extensive basement tools. The sky would be the limit, had there not been, well, limitations. The biggest one would be the grid system the whole game built around. The means making anything with nice, straight walls is fine, the game loves it. Once you start adding diagonals, it gets a bit irritated and likes to fight back a bit. Want a curved wall? The game simply won’t allow it. This felt like a real missed opportunity, especially when the series has missed this opportunity for the last 20 years.
After you have constructed the shell that will be your home, you can then customise the interior and exterior, to your heart’s content. As with everything else, this is incredibly intuitive with simple clicking and dragging to get items, wallpapers, windows doors and flooring placed wherever you want. The diversity in what items you have at your disposal is what I would describe as ‘enough’ in the base game. You have all the things you would expect to have in a house of any size, with most items having an array of colours to choose from (although this is somewhat inconsistent), but after a few builds you will certainly start to feel a little bit restricted. If anything this is the Sims 4’s biggest weakness, and one that EA are happy to fix – for a price.
This is probably a good time to segway into the business model that surrounds the whole Sims 4 experience. Outside of the base game, you have a plethora of expansion packs of varying sizes and prices. There are 9 full ‘Expansion’ packs, which are large additions intended to make big changes to the game’s mechanics as well as add new worlds and items to play around with. There are 8 ‘Game’ packs, which are smaller, slightly cheaper addons that often add new themes, such as vampires, can also add worlds to mess with, in addition to a (smaller) selection of new items. Finally, there are 16 ‘Stuff’ packs. These are the cheapest options when it comes to expanding, adding a small number of new items and that’s about it. Having such a large selection of investment opportunities is a bit overwhelming, but gives people who want more from their experience an opportunity to get exactly that.
There are currently only two major differences between console players and PC players – one being the controls and the other being custom content. The controls are a pain in the arse. They’re an utter pain to learn, but once you have, it becomes like second nature. Just be prepared to do lots of Googling on it. No matter how much time you spend using the controls and how good you get, it will always be slower to build on console than PC, so you should bear that in mind when you make your choice on where to purchase the Sims. If you already have a gaming PC/laptop, you’d probably be better off buying it on there. The other difference is custom content – free content made by other players. It’s not possible to get custom content for the Sims 4 on console, so if you think you would want to use custom content in your game, you would need to buy the PC version.
Prepare To Wait…
One more thing to bear in mind if you’re considering buying the Sims 4 on console is the loading times, which are catastrophic. It is not uncommon for it to take over 5 minutes of loading before you can even play the game, with any location moving resulting in even more lengthy loads, with travel time being as high as 10 minutes for a round trip. It is not an exaggeration when I say you need to plan ahead if you want to play the Sims 4 on console. Although the loading screens still exist on PC, they are nowhere near as impactful.
When it comes to the visuaIs, I love the style of the Sims 4. I have no complaints. At all. If you knew me, you’d know how rare it is for me to have no complaints. The style is fun, bright but realistic enough for me to get immersed in the worlds I create. The animations in the game are often surprisingly detailed and well thought out. The actual performance can take a hit when things get busy, but since the game is not exactly high octane, it doesn’t massively detract from the experience. The Sims 4 has some great background music. If you turn on a radio within the game, you might also hear some well known songs that have been translated into ‘Simlish’, the language spoken by sims in the game. This language isn’t just a gibberish type of nonsense, so you can learn some words in Simlish and thoroughly creep out your friends. Overall this is a top notch production, with a lot of effort clearly put into making this game look and sound the part.
The Sims 4 as a base game is a good game. It becomes a great game when you start adding packs to it, you just need to decide if you think it’s worth the investment. I’d definitely recommend waiting for sales on the packs. Between sales and bundles, you can save a fortune and they come around fairly often. If you’re into simulation type games, give it a go. The base game is often hugely reduced or even free so you don’t have much to lose. Now if you don’t mind, I am going to create my 34th ‘Mr Toast’, and I am going to watch him die…again…
Brioche (and Toast) Seal Of Approval
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