No, that’s not my house. My house looks like something you’d see on a “before” part of a home makeover show, where the audience gasps and says things like, “Who could even live in a place like that? Mercy me!”
OK, so I had a jonesing for some Sims action — it had been far, far too long since I played any sort of Sims game apart from my brief (and bugged) foray into the original Sims earlier this year. The Sims 4 had been on my “to play” list for a couple of years now, although I’ve held off because it didn’t get the most glowing of reviews. However, it was on sale for $20 last week and I figured it was high time to check out the latest incarnation of the Sims franchise before Sims 5 is announced.
I used to be such a Sims-head (or whatever they call addicts to this series). Both building houses and watching a life simulator take place are deeply gratifying types of gameplay for me. And, as I found out this weekend, the Sims games are perfect for audience participation.
When I loaded this game up, three of my children ended up congregating around my computer and giving me all sorts of advice about how I should make the characters, what I should put in the house, what I should make them do next, etc. This wasn’t annoying at all, but rather a really fun group activity for us. The kids had so many giggle fits over the different hairstyles, Sims emotes, and activities the Sims could do. And when I created little versions of them, they got even more invested. It was great to bond over video games in this way, I must say.
So what about the game? My first impressions were very positive. I love the look and aesthetic to Sims 4. It’s a little more cartoony than the last installment and has a “softer” feel, but is definitely Sims at its core. There doesn’t seem to be any meters for the characters’ moods, but rather just icons and mood states, which works out well.
Building a new home was mostly intuitive. There’s a lot I have to learn about doing this well, but I got the basics pretty quickly. I liked that there were options to plop down fully-made and -furnished rooms, but I always prefer to start from scratch. What I didn’t like is that you couldn’t start with a blank neighborhood map. It’s my tradition to demolish everything, evict all families, and make everything just mine. This game resisted me on doing that, and that was kind of annoying.
What we all ended up enjoying the best was to watch the characters without interfering. They were like little soap opera stars, all super-emotional and highly emotive, and that connected very strongly with my kids. Of course, they were incredibly meta by wanting to watch whatever the sims were watching on the TV, which made me a little cross-eyed to consider.
As I fiddled about with yet another house design, I found myself really wishing that there was an updated Sims Online that would allow for connections to a huge pool of players instead of just my own characters. I’m crossing my fingers that Maxis adds deeper multiplayer functionality to the next edition of the series, whenever that arrives.