Sims 4 Review: Does This Sims Live Up to The Rest?

The Sims 4
The Sims 4

I fell in love with the Sims games way back in the mid 2000’s when I picked up a cheap copy for my PS2. I played that stupid game for hours and loved just messing with the characters. In fact, I think I still have that copy somewhere packed up with my old school gaming goodies. Along the way, I’ve played different Sims games and expansion packs as they’ve come out. I’ll admit that the mobile versions are nowhere near as fun as the PlayStation ones. I haven’t played a new one in a while since the last mobile version put a bad taste in my mouth. That said, when the Sims 4 came out, I figured I’d grab a copy and see what changes the game has made.

Graphics and Looks

Just getting swol.
Just getting swol.

The Sims franchise never lets me down in this aspect. I love that the graphics are always crisp and beautiful. Everything is pretty realistic when it comes to colors and shapes, other than that, it’s the normal Sims world that we have all gotten used to at this point. So, the graphics are really just as good as I would have expected. However, the fact that I’ve been playing too many other games with crazy detailed graphics kind of puts this down a bit for me. I know it’s not fair to put the Sims 4 against something like Battlefield, but it is hard not to. Overall, the graphics are beautiful, so don’t think that I’m saying secretly they suck or anything.

The new Create A Sim start is absolutely gorgeous. I love that they really took all of this to the next level and added in about a zillion different options for you to choose from. You can really intricately detail everything about your sim down to the insane body shapes, tattoos, what their aspirations are in life, outfits, hair… I really could go on and on. I think that I ended up spending almost 30 minutes just going through everything and choosing options when I created my first Sim. You can easily take longer than that too with all of the details that you can add. Plus, you can get more detailed and make a really gorgeous Sim or one that simply defies all reality.

Game Play

Lots of customization options.
Lots of customization options.

This is one area where I have a love/hate relationship with the Sims franchise. While you can do anything in the game that you want to, it also ends up being too much to do. I love that there are quests and things you “should” do to keep you on some type of target if you want. And, I do love that you can take off and just do something completely different. But, it gets boring after a bit. The content that is there in the Sims 4 almost feels like it just isn’t enough. If there aren’t massive community events or the stupid stuff that you love to make Sims do, it just feels blah.

All that being said, Sims 4 has actually simplified things a hair by adding a new emotional aspect to your Sim. This emotion engine ties your gameplay into specific interactions with other Sims. The more that you react to Sims around you as well as items and events, the more you’ll be able to do with that particular Sim, event, etc. By interacting with other Sims, you can also do more stupid Sim stuff, which adds a little back into the game play for me.

Also, the developers yanked two things that I’ve really disliked throughout the last few Sims games: Environment and Comfort. They are still there in essence, but they aren’t active things you have to worry about now. Other areas, like Hygiene, Sleep and Hunger is still there and have to be attended to keep your Sim happy and well, alive. Sometimes I hate that you have to make sure to tell them or force them to eat, take showers, etc, but I guess if you didn’t have this in the game, then you would have less to concentrate on when other Sims aren’t around.

I'm sooooo sad!
I'm sooooo sad!

One area of the game that I’ve always loved is the Skills and Sims 4 has pushed this to the next level. For example, if your Sim is an aspiring cook and you build on that skill, you can unlock gourmet cooking for them. There are even games that help improve any skill set that you choose, like competitions and tournaments against other Sims in the game. (Which are pretty fun! I highly recommend trying a couple of them out.) You can also let your Sims multitask now, like a real person, so they can walk on the treadmill and watch tv at the same time. These contests and such will also affect how your Sims feel about themselves, which makes it more interesting to play since they have taken the Comfort issue out of play.

Traveling is different now as well. When your Sim travels somewhere, there’s a loading screen instead of the crazy antics that you had while driving to another place. I kinda feel that this leaves out your scouting abilities for new places and other fun aspects to driving around the Sims world. Even short distance outings mean a loading screen for your Sim. For example, if you want to go to your neighbor’s house – which you see from your front door – yeah, loading screen. Why? Why can’t I just walk over there like in Sims 3? I don’t get this change.

The cramp on my traveling Sim style also means that the game feels more constricted. You can’t just take off and drive somewhere, you have to go to a stupid loading screen and not see what your Sim just past on the way. I don’t like this new change and I hope that the developers put traveling back into the game for the next installment.

Here is one area of the game play where the Sims 4 gets a bit of an unhappy emjoi from me: they took out a lot of the normal things that were always there in previous Sims games. These include things like dishwashers, family trees, garbage compactors, pool tables and even hot tubs! What is a Sims game without hot tubs?! It’s blasphemy I tell you.

Will Future Content Help?

I really hope that with expansion packs and more content in Sims 4 the game play gets better for me. Right now, just the core game doesn’t really have enough to keep me playing for hours like I did with previous ones. I hate that because I really do like the game overall. However, adding in more things to do, odd adventures to take your Sims on, and other items to do in the game will help a lot as far as keeping gamers interested.

I think that the problem is older Sim gamers love the aspects that they removed in this game, such as traveling and hot tubs. (I’m stuck on the hot tub thing, obviously.) However, younger gamers, such as my preteen daughter, love this one. She jumped on my computer after I was finished playing and I had to almost physically remove her from my desk later that day. So, if you are buying the Sims 4 for a younger gamer, they will love it.

Either way, you should check out Sims 4 for yourself and see what you think. Don’t just take my word for it as I’ve been playing the Sims franchise for way too long.

Trying not to melt away in the heat of Oklahoma, MD Weems has been a writer and artist for over 20 years. Her written works over all types of gaming have been used in college level game design textbooks as well as in US Patents over virtual character design. She has worked with gaming companies all over the world and is even cool enough to have her own Korean cartoon character.