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Review: The Sims 4 (PC/Mac)

September 15, 2014

Equipped with its brand new Build Mode and Sims creation tools, the Sims 4 proves that it is focused entirely on quality over quantity. Image provided by Electronic Arts

Although the game is missing some of its much-loved core features, overall the Sims 4 is a title that is appealing to new faces and old



The Sims 4 is one of those games that is loved by many, and only hated by a few. Whether you’re a hardcore gamer or just a casual one – who rarely leaves the comfort of their Facebook games – chances are you’ll be able to find something interesting about the Sims franchise.

The Sims 4 makes it even easier for anybody to jump into the game, as Maxis – the developer of the Sims and SimCity franchises – learned quite a bit about how people play simulation games after its latest attempt of SimCity.

Like its big brother, the Sims 4 has been changed drastically in several areas to create a more streamlined game. While gamers tend to fear the word “streamlined,” Maxis understood this and gave gamers the ability to take things to the next level, if they chose to.

The first real encounter with how the game has been streamlined is when the player first uses the Create a Sim tool.

In previous games when players wanted to make their Sim, they were subjected to several sliders that tweaked various aspects of the face or shape of the Sim. While the sliders worked, they were somewhat complex to use.

Want to tweak the height of the eyes? Well, it might throw off the proportion of the width of the eyes. Now you might have to go back and change some other sliders to get the look just right. The Sims 4 takes a different approach to making a Sim.

Rather than using sliders – which still exist for simple tweaks like height or weight – changes to the appearance of a Sim are much more natural. Want to change the position of the eyes? Great! Click the center of the eyes and move them up and down, or left and right.

The Sim creation tool feels less like a math problem, and more like sculpting a character with clay.

What’s Hot?

While the Sims 4 shines in a variety of ways, the game makes its biggest impact with the new Build and Live modes of gameplay. Why is Buy Mode not included in this? The answer to that question is simple.

Build Mode – like Create a Sim mode – has also been streamlined. Now instead of having the house furnishings in a separate area, as previous games included a Build Mode and a Buy Mode, everything is combined into one mode.

Build Mode is also “smart” in that it’s easy to renovate homes on the fly. In previous titles, resizing rooms required tearing down walls, changing floors and wallpaper, shifting objects and replacing the roof. In the Sims 4, almost all of these tasks are automated which allows players to quickly change their house on the fly.

Aside from that, Live Mode has also been subjected to a major facelift. The major game mechanic that Maxis has implemented into Live Mode is multi-tasking. In past iterations of the franchise, Sims couldn’t complete even simple tasks at the same time. Want to have a conversation? Well, you can’t watch TV.

This time around, however, Maxis gave users a lot more freedom by allowing Sims to stack tasks and complete them together. Sims can now read a book on the toilet, eat a meal while conversing and a wide variety of combinations of tasks.

If two tasks can be grouped together, the Sim will realize this and complete those them together. Gone are the days of waiting for a Sim to take what feels like a century for two virtually meaningless tasks. Now Sims are smarter and better equipped for everything they do.

What’s Cold?

Now it wouldn’t be a proper Sims game without some bugs or features missing. While it should be expected that going from a fully finished Sims 3 lineup to a brand new Sims 4 would force gamers to give up some features, the game is surprisingly lacking on some of the important features.

Toddlers are no longer in the game, which may be a relief to a person that hates kids, but others may find this to be quite annoying as it removes the sense of accomplishment that came with potty training that new bundle of joy.

Not to mention that toddler development tasks in previous titles allowed players to shape the future of their Sims, as it changed their future personality and gave them perks that could impact work or school in the future.

There are other features that are missing, such as apartments which were included in both Sims 2 and Sims 3 downloadable content and arguably should be included in the base game at this point. Seasons and basements also fall into the category of must-have features at this point.

The Rundown.

Other reviewers have stated that the Sims 4 provides an experience that is just enough, and while there is some truth to that, the game is still incredibly enjoyable. The game doesn’t feel incomplete, but it does feel like Maxis sacrificed some features to better others – which isn’t necessarily a poor decision nor a good one.

While the game should be recommended to die-hard fans looking for another Sims fix, skeptics should be warned that at a certain point in the game the shadow of downloadable content feels incredibly strong. EA and Maxis do not hide that the Sims 4 business model relies on gamers spending a bit of a premium for the content that they consider to be a supplement.


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