The Sims 4

The Sims 4 builds upon the formula that gave the popular life simulation franchise many years of success, while keeping the core game mechanics that veteran fans have come to expect.

The Sims 4 Review

Contrary to popular belief, just because it isn't broken doesn't mean you can't fix or at least improve upon it. With The Sims 4, EA Maxis set out to do just that, building on a formula that gave the popular life simulation franchise many years of success, while keeping the core game mechanics that veteran fans have come to expect.

It's a slippery slope, and one that tested the game's creators leading up to its recent release. With some fan-favourite features removed, gamers wondered what all the fuss was about. Could The Sims 4 re-ally be worth it right out of the box, or was the long running fran-chise taking a step back?

What's on the menu?

After installing and loading the game, your first experience in The Sims 4 will be with the Create-a-Sim feature, and that means some menus and clicking about. It's here where EA Maxis deserves its first compliment, as the HUD is clean and navigation is intuitive, a trend that will continue throughout your entire experience with the game.

Graphically everything looks great, and our mid-level gaming PC was able to run it on ultra settings without any trouble. It's certainly not a game all about resolution and frame rate, but the Sims look vibrant and the environment is a step up from The Sims 3. While the interface for moving and interacting with the world remains similar to previous iterations, it's a system that works, and it's great to see that with the exception of a few minor tweaks it was essentially left alone.

An extreme home makeover

When it comes to improving core game mechanics while simultane-ously leaving them familiar enough to appease long-time players, The Sims 4 is right on point. The already fun Create-a-Sim and Build Mode features managed to get even better, benefiting the most from the above mentioned intuitive navigation and cleaned up HUD.

For starters, Create-a-Sim is less like data entry and more like sculpting with clay, except that the click-and-drag system makes it nearly impossible to do a bad job. Through the entire creation pro-cess you will hardly find yourself using the keyboard, tinkering away at the smallest details of your Sim with the click of a mouse. This includes choosing your Sim’s personality and life aspirations, a choice that you can re-visit if things don't turn out exactly as expected.

As incredibly fun and user friendly creating your doppelganger is, the Build Mode is also a major recipient in the list of improved features. Where players used to have to fine-tune every last detail, then erase it and start all over again when they made a mistake, The Sims 4 will allow you to place entire rooms (even houses), then pick them up and move them to another area if the situation calls for it. You can still spend hours mulling over the architectural details of your mansion, but it's optional. You can just as easily visit the in-game gallery, find what you're looking for and then plop it down to start playing right away.

Life is full of ups and downs

Overall, the gameplay in The Sims 4 is solid, but there are a couple of areas that could either use improvement or will leave players asking questions about why certain features didn't make it into the final product. That's perhaps the biggest criticism we can offer - if EA Maxis was able to build so brilliantly upon some mechanics, why were others that existed in previous instalments left out?

For starters, there are no swimming pools. We were quite disappointed to find out we couldn't doom problematic Sims in the swimming pool by removing the ladder... not that we ever would. It was also a bit of a letdown to realise we couldn't alter the terrain in Build Mode, meaning completely flat lots across the universe.

Even with a few missing components, the game is fun and seems more focused on Sim personalities. Maybe that explains why a few building or object oriented features were cut.

Sticking with Simology, Whims and Aspirations ensure that you are never just wandering around aimlessly with nothing to do. The game provides ample direction on how to rank up your skills, become more social or even further your career. We absolutely loved working our way up the intelligence community ladder as a Secret Agent.

However, if the play mechanics could use a tweak, it would be with the ability to skip and speed up time. It's great that you can fast forward through the times you're at work or asleep, but even at maximum levels it seems too slow. We'd love to see the ability to skip right to the end of the day (or until morning), letting the game interrupt you only if there is an event that requires your attention.

Hard work always pays off

Looking at the entire package, The Sims 4 is a great game, and even if there are a few missing features that will disappoint veterans of the franchise, there is still a lot to embrace. The improvements to the Create-a-Sim and Build Mode are astonishing, and the bump up in visuals is on par with what you'd expect. There is still a lot of room for additional content, or even a few features that fans clearly want to return. That's the beauty of Sims games - they have a long history of being supported for several years after their release, but even so, the out-of-the-box results are great on their own. Fans of series should already own The Sims 4, while new players will find a very rewarding experience with a lot of value.

GAME's Verdict: 8.0/10

The Good

  • The environment and Sims look vibrant
  • Build Mode and Create-a-Sim are incredible
  • Gameplay is rewarding and engaging

The Bad

  • Several missing features from The Sims 3
  • Sleeping and working can slow the game down
  • Terrain cannot be altered from its default state
SKU: Reviews-305291
Release Date: 04/09/2014