The Sims 4 was released earlier this month and after playing it for about a week now, I wanted to share my experience of the game so far.
After installation, as long-term players will know, you can jump right in and play one of the pre-designed families. However, if you want to make your own characters, Create-a-Sim is where it all starts.
Here, you shape who your Sims are. You give them a name, a voice tone and a walk style. Choose their skin tone, eye colour and hairstyle. Players can now click directly on to each part of their Sim to sharply define their features. You can give them small ears, thin lips, broad shoulders, a beer belly…or whatever comes to mind! I found it does take a little practice before you can get things exactly how you want them. To make things easier, there is a selection of templates to choose from so you can automatically get the big nose or heart-shaped face that you want for your Sim.
There’s a good selection of clothes to choose from for both genders and every age group. Although they’ve done away with the colour wheel of The Sims 3, there is a bit of a choice of shades and patterns with every garment. Sims can have different outfits for everyday use and formalwear as well as for the gym, bedtime and parties. Accessories include socks, hats and pretty jewellery.
When you’re finished styling your Sim, decide what they want in life by choosing one of ten aspirations. They can aspire to become a musical genius, to be fabulously wealthy, to find their soulmate…Whatever aspiration you choose unlocks a bonus trait — for example, your Sim will become a quick learner if they want to be a computer whiz or they’ll gain a high metabolism if they dream of being a bodybuilder. You also choose three more traits from a range of thirty-five to make up your Sim’s personality. They can be cheerful or mean; a foodie; a geek; romantic; clumsy; materialistic and more.
If you’re creating multiple Sims, you can define their relationships with each other before you send them out in to the world. Although you can have children and siblings and the rest, there are no family trees in TS4. That’s the only feature I’m missing from Create-a-Sim (also toddlers but I think enough has already been said on that!). Other than that, I really like this part of the game. It’s easy to use, there’s lots of variety and the opportunity to make some really unique characters.
When your Sims are ready to start living, you can choose to move to the lush green Willow Creek or the desert-like Oasis Springs. Go straight in to a fully-furnished home or buy up an empty lot and build from scratch. There is only a small selection of lots and homes available which is a bit disappointing. If you want to put your own stamp on your place, Build/Buy mode is really easy to use. You can purchase entire pre-designed rooms to place directly on to your lot and you can push and pull walls to instantly build an extension. Also, at any time, you can pick up and move the entire building — very handy for when you realise you need more space to create that dream back yard!
Some players love creating interesting and original characters in Create-a-Sim while others can spend hours designing a replica of their perfect home. My favourite part of the game is live mode when you get in to your Sims’ lives — for me, that’s when the fun begins!
So — to start — when your Sims settle in to their new home, at least one of them is going to want to get a job. Bills arrive on a regular basis and you only get 48 hours to pay. The amount of Simoleans you have to part with will vary depending on the size of your home and what items you have inside it. If you don’t pay up on time, you’ll face the consequences! Unlike in previous games, it’s not going to be a repoman just popping by to take an item of equal value. Instead, your power will be cut. If you still haven’t coughed up the cash by the next day, your water will go too. Imagine a home with no lights, showers, no flushing toilets, no TV…! I love this new feature!
I’m not, however, a big fan of the range of the careers in TS4 — astronaut; criminal; culinary, entertainer, painter, secret agent, tech guru and writer. There are currently no jobs available in medicine, politics, science, law enforcement…Call me traditional but that’s what I would rather see! One positive here though is that it is a bit more of a challenge for your Sim to get promoted. It’s no longer just a matter of showing up on time, they also have to complete little tasks and reach certain standards. If you want to climb that career ladder, you need to put in the effort!
You’ll definitely want some money coming in if you’re planning to have a family. As always, loved-up Sims can woohoo or try for a baby (at the moment, these actions are limited to the bedroom!). For fifteen Simoleans, lady Sims can take a pregnancy test by clicking on the toilet. Whether or not they take the test, all expectant mothers start showing within a few days.
The first two trimesters lasts twenty-four hours each with the bump growing every day! It wouldn’t be unusual for your Sim to be a little heavier after she gives birth. In previous games, Moms snapped back in to shape straight after their little one appears in their arms. This time around, it seems different. My first Sim wanted lots of babies and ended up practically obese by the time she had her fourth! She was constantly hungry throughout her pregnancies so naturally I let her fill up but it definitely showed…Oh well, I’m all for a bit of realism!
For pregnant ladies, the third trimester can last up to a couple of days. When Mom goes in to labour, she can choose to have the baby at home or in the hospital. Babies arrive in bassinets and spend this life stage there. Parents can pick them up to feed, cuddle, bounce and change them. Annoyingly, there’s no maternity leave. My poor Sim was in her third trimester and still had to go in to work! She gave birth as soon as she came home and the next day, she was back in the office. Baby was automatically sent to day-care. I do like that there’s day-care now but I still wish we could have babysitters as well. I find it a bit strange that teenagers can get part-time jobs as babysitters and yet parents are never able to hire any! Also I’ve noticed that only the babies get sent to day-care. One of my Sims was a single mom and had a child who would be left in the house on her own every day after school (until 11pm when mom finished work!).
After two days, babies turn in to children. As always, children are expected to go to school and hand in their homework on time. Continuous bad grades can result in the intervention of Social Services so if you want to continue raising them, be sure the youngsters regularly hit the books. They can also improve their skills by practicing their typing on a computer, playing some violin or drawing at the activity table (their works of art can even be proudly displayed on the walls!).
After thirteen days, your sweet little ones turn in to teenagers. I’ve got to say that I don’t find the teens too interesting for now. There are no curfews; they don’t really have mood swings; they don’t get in to trouble for skipping school or not doing their homework….I found it impossible to make my teen Sim fail her classes! If you want to keep them out of the house for longer, teen Sims can also get part-time jobs such as babysitter, barista and sales assistant. They can also start up relationships and even ask their parents about woohoo (or their parents might even bring up the talk themselves — cue the cringing!).
Sims can also adopt through the computer. It costs 1000 Simoleans per adoption and — for the first time — prospective parents are given a choice of who they’ll get. It’s no longer just about picking a baby or child, boy or girl. Now they’re also given fifteen faces and they can select whichever one they feel will best fit in with their family. These children come with their own names but they can be changed at the time of adoption. I’m very much a family-oriented player so all my Sims end up being parents eventually!
There are, however, lots of other cool features that aren’t related to parenthood. For the first time ever, Sims can properly multi-task. They might be enjoying some mac and cheese at the table when they decide to head to the couch and watch some TV while they eat. If they see their friend is working up a sweat on the treadmill, chances are they’ll hurry over to strike up a conversation. They could be playing a fun game on their phone when they suddenly need to pee — gross as it is, they’ll have no problem continuing their game in the bathroom! This is one of my favourite new features in this game. It definitely adds a sense of realism as you play.
Sims can throw different types of parties — house, birthday, dinner and wedding. You can hold these events at home or on a community lot and there’s a fun option to hire help. Order a caterer to keep the hunger pangs at bay, an entertainer to provide the music and a mixologist to get the drinks flowing! As the party gets going, Sims are challenged to meet different goals such as thanking guests for coming and serving up some yummy cake. If they meet their goals, the party is deemed a success and they even receive a reward for all their efforts!
Emotions is a huge new feature of TS4. Every day, Sims are influenced by the world around them. Doing something fun will make them happy while a dull conversation will make them bored. A game of chess will get them focused. A fight with a friend will leave them angry and wanting to blow off some steam. Even their showers can affect them. A brisk shower gets them energized, a long and thoughtful shower fills them with inspiration and a hot and steamy shower leaves them feeling flirtatious!
Seemingly it’s possible for Sims to die from emotion overload, such as having a heart attack when they’re massively shocked or even literally “dying from embarrassment”. For the sake of this post (ahem), I tested this theory but I really don’t think it happens so easily. I had my Sim walk in on his housemate in the shower, get rejected by the girl of his dreams and then wet himself in a crowded room and — although he was “mortified” — all he did was hide in his bed! So for any players concerned about their Sims meeting a sudden demise, I’d say don’t worry too much (but still save regularly just in case…!)
Since I started playing The Sims 4 a week ago, I’ve explored a lot of the great new features but also been a bit disappointed with what’s missing. It’s not just toddlers and pools and family trees that are gone. There’s also no repairman, no burglars, no cars…There has also been quite a number of glitches, some of which have been fixed but some which remain. It’s still early days but hopefully they’ll be sorted soon — really they should be because a glitchy game is unacceptable and can get very annoying!
Earlier in the week, I mentioned that I was about 75% happy with this game. I’m sticking with that for now. There is a lot to improve upon but for the most part, I’m enjoying the new features and challenges. It’s been a week but I feel like there’s still more for to discover and do within the game (yeah that includes making my Sim die of embarrassment — I need to see that now!)