Believe it or not, it’s been almost two years since The Sims 4 was released. I have to say I’m nowhere near as smitten with this base game as I was with The Sims 2 or 3 but it’s still entertaining enough. An add-on can give the game a whole new lease of life so I’m always interested in new releases. Up until recently, I had only installed Get to Work as an extra as none of the other packs appealed to me at all! The release of Dine Out last week was the first to catch my attention in a while so I decided to give it a go.
Dine Out comes with 6 pre-made restaurants that you can pluck from the library and place straight in to your world. I’ve always felt that TS4 was lacking in venues so these are some much welcomed additions. Sims can visit any of the restaurants at any time by themselves or with family and friends. If the restaurant is particularly fancy, there may even be a dress code! Once they’re seated and ready to order, they can choose from the menu. The choices and prices can vary from place to place. If they’re really enjoying their meal, your Sims can take a picture (#foodie, anyone?!) or pass their compliments on to the chef. It’s fun getting Sims to dine out but it’s even better when they go in to the business of running a restaurant themselves!
To become a restauranter, you can either create your own restaurant or take ownership of one of the six pre-made places. I jumped right in with designing my very own little bistro! I chose a plot in a nice neighbourhood and got to work. Since building your own business requires serious Simoleans, I used a sneaky cheat or two to increase my funds. The cash went straight in to my household so then it was only a matter of transferring a lump sum to the business! I haven’t had the game a week and I’ve already created three different restaurants. I’ve always been more focused on live mode so I’m surprised how much I’m enjoying this part of the game! There are just so many possibilities! You can create an upmarket eatery, a greasy spoon, a local pizzeria…and you can add your own individual touches to each place. So far, I’ve just redesigned the same restaurant but I’m thinking my family might invest in a second lot — a cute coffee shop could be on the cards!
Once you’re happy with how your restaurant looks; it’s time to consider how it will run. At the very least, you need one chef, one host and one waiter. All my staff came to me with little or no experience but with encouragement and training, they became more and more skilled. Those who couldn’t keep up were shown the door! There is lots of possible interaction between owner and employee: you can praise or criticize your staff, check up on them, promote or demote them and much more. I love how easy it is to customize uniforms too, it can be as simple or sophisticated as you like!
Of course, every restaurant needs a menu too. There are plenty of options and you can decide exactly what drinks, appetizers, mains and desserts will be served at your joint. I made the mistake of creating a super fancy menu at the start but I soon realised that my poor rookie chef just couldn’t keep up! I had to simplify the menu to keep customer complaints at bay but as my team became more experienced, I could add more complex dishes to the line-up.
As soon as your restaurant is fully equipped and staffed, you can open for business! There’s the option to buy advertising but I really didn’t find that necessary. Plenty of Sims showed up and anyway — at least at the beginning — you don’t want to be too overwhelmed with customers! A good host will promptly greet and seat the clientele. You can gauge how each customer is feeling by looking at the star rating over their head. Hovering over the individual will bring up any specific compliments or complaints they may have. As the owner, I always get my Sim to welcome the patrons once they’re seated to make them feel extra special and guarantee brownie points! My Sim can also recommend dishes, prioritize customers or offer a round of drinks on the house! Everyone who comes through the door contributes to the restaurant’s overall rating so it’s important to keep as many as happy as possible. From time to time, a restaurant critic might drop by too!
There are lots of great new features in this game pack but there are a couple of things I think could be better. First of all, it annoys me that you can’t set opening and closing times for the restaurant. I generally open around noon and customers keep coming until I shut up shop. There’s no cut-off point so when I close, there are always at least a few customers in the middle of ordering or eating. It’s so abrupt but there’s no other way of doing it! Also I find some Sims have a tendency to wander when they’re dining out…I don’t understand why they think it’s a good idea to do a lap of the venue during dinner — often with plate in hand!
Really though, I only have one major problem with this pack and that is that you can be a restaurant owner but it’s not considered a job. My Sim has the ambitious trait and she gains negative moodlets if she’s not employed. I had to sign her up to the business career and take endless vacation days so she could spend time looking after the restaurant. Even at that, she still gets down when she hasn’t been promoted in her business career after a certain time! Of course, you can arrange for the restaurant to be open in your absence but where’s the fun in that?! I much prefer for my Sim to be there and I think it’s such a shame that I can’t simply set her job as restauranter. I think her ambitious trait would be more than happy with how well her place is doing! As I want the restaurant to be a family business, I get her kid in at the weekend to help clear tables! If only you could mop the floors and refill the condiments, that would be something else for her to do too!
Like I said, I’ve had the game less than a week but so far, so good. There haven’t been any major glitches for me and all in all, I’m enjoying its features. It should keep me entertained until the next expansion pack comes out (I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it’s going to be Generations!).