Months after a rocky start after its release in September 2014, the Sims 4 is now available for Mac! The newest edition to the Sims series by EA games had been hotly anticipated but started in a wave of disappointment and criticism on its initial release. Gamers were disappointed with its buggy start and the disappearance of features, some of which were to be released as per the EA business model, via expansion packs at a later date. Having a Mac is an advantage in this case because by the time I was able to get my hands on this game, patches had been released to remedy issues. In particular players had experienced multiple problems with babies, build mode, unlocks and saving issues and updates have been made to include features like paid leave and paid family leave, the business career and the release of pools.
Let’s start with an overview of the game. Like previous games, the Sims is about making and playing out your sims life as you choose. You can give them a career, a family, choose their goals and aspirations and fulfil and design their lives to be perfect, or ruin them completely because that’s how you roll. New features on the game include a revamp of the ‘traits’ system making your sims more quirky, a streamlined and improved build mode and a new level of emotional intelligence. The game on appearance alone and minus any of the bugs other players experienced, is smoother and more seamless then any previous version and the gameplay is the wonderfully integrated. Travelling between lots and now worlds is easy, and sims can build skills, but also die there.
Sims themselves are truly unique and more ‘human’ then ever before. There’s a certain thrill to watching your sim pick up their tablet computer, make their way to the bathroom and proceed to play games and do their business. The multi-tasking is spot on, and is fantastic for the Sims version of the hard grind, skills development, promotions tasks and aspirations. A sim who lives alone in order to make money without distraction, lets say an author, can write for hours at the library while still getting social need and making friends. It’s a great way to allow players to complete some of those tasks that need to get done to establish your sim, and get onto enjoying your mansion, money or aspiration points in whatever manner you see fit.
The traits of sims tie into the your three original choices, your starting aspiration, and any you earn through completing aspirations and using your rewards points. A sim can be crafted in more and more ways, they can be creative, a genius, mean, good, geeky, a loner or even a ‘bro’, they can be a creative visionary, utterly beguiling or a successful entreupreneur. These traits tie into the mood of your sims, active sims will frequently be enegerized, geniuses will be focused, romantic types will be flirty. Not just this but the whims and wishes of your sims will also alter depending on their mood, and there are various ways you can manipulate this to your advantage. If you’re confident you can smooze with the boss, be a better public speaker or ace your comedy routine, get in the right frame of mind for your employment and you will perform better. All of this is fun to play and manipulate, to learn what items can assist you can play with your sims mood in that way that makes you feel both like God and a little uncomfortable that your inspired sim has written four novels today and you are sitting at a computer playing a very addictive game.
There’s plenty of ways to make money and manage your aspirations in the game. The creative pursuits really bring it in fast, but most skills and careers give you some opportunity to make money. Even if they don’t bring in the dollars initially, you have the ability to swap aspirations at any time without losing your progress which makes it easy to pursue multiple routes for your sims. It’s these factors that’s really make the game enjoyable, giving as much freedom as possible to let you play the game as you want. Other areas that have improved is the ability to build your house quickly with fully formed styled rooms, and even better the ability to move and rotate whole rooms including furniture.
Along with the advances there’s also some notable omissions in the new game. Babies are now basically just objects and the toddler growth phase is skipped entirely, there’s no risk of your house being burgled and you’re limited to 3 floors in your house. There’s no aliens, no ability to change the terrain height of your lot and no failures of aspirations as seen in other games. There’s also no hot tubs or ability to ‘woohoo’ in public spaces like bathroom stalls. None of the omissions really feel like they’ve ruined or fundamentally changed the game and if anything they’ve been more then made up for with the aspiration structure, and greatly improved item functionality.
One of the things that the developers really missed out on including is greater world building functionality. For a group that could bring us Sim City, they’ve made their focus too narrow in their Sims series. Part of the joy of the game is the ability to build and shape your Sims houses and to a lesser extent the public spaces. Go online and you’ll find lots of imitations of buildings from popular culture like sitcom houses to go with sitcom families and even animal crossing inspired cottages. If the Sims offered an ability to shape every aspect of a neighbourhood, the whole base terrain, what lots and where, what – if any, watercourses and even the skyline, imagine what the community would create!
I love The Sims, I love manipulating their lives and personalities and filling their houses with luxurious objects and quirky art. I love making them in my own image, and not in my image, and in every other way that comes to mind. I remember the first game, and the feeling is the same, albeit with a few more high tech gadgets in the mix. If you’re a fan of the franchise, you will undoubtedly enjoy the game as much as I have!
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