The Sims are back for a fourth intsallment, once again giving you the opportunity to create your dream home and watch your virtual avatars evolve. After years of waiting for a follow up to the Sims 3, can this latest installment manage to reignite interest in the series?
A Sims package that lacks content
The Sims 4 isn't trying to revolutionize the principle of the series. Nevertheless, I still expected to see several new features compared to other games in the series. Shocking, it's clear that with this new version, Electronic Arts has done the opposite of what I expected: instead of adding new content, the publisher has decided to lighten the game up by taking away a large number of features.
There's no swimming pool, no toddlers, you're unable to view your Sims' place of work– the list is far too long and the conclusion is clear: Electronic Arts seem to have given themselves plenty of room to add future DLC with features that have been removed from the game. It seems to me to be an unfortunate approach, seeing as the "complete" game is already being sold at full price.
This criticism aside, however, the game offers countless new activities that your Sims can do in town or at home. The range of objects you can purchase is already immense and original, as are the numerous outings that you can go on. It's a shame, however, that you now get a loading screen whenever your Sims move between lots and neighbourhoods, whereas The Sims 3 offered an open world where the action remained constant. The good news is that there is a new community portal that allows you to share your creations online (characters and constructions).
Great interface and artificial intelligence
In terms of gameplay and accessibility, The Sims 4 has improved a lot from its predecessors. Despite the presence of a bulky tutorial that can be annoying for those already familiar with the series, everything has been redesigned for better control of the game.
The new character creator is excellent: you can very easily create the Sim of your dreams by simply dragging the mouse over the body parts you wish to change. When it comes to building or customizing your home, items are now organized in a clear way, according to the different rooms of the house.
The way that Sims behave has also been the subject of much attention. With a much needed revised system, your characters are now more autonomous and intelligent, taking care of themselves by automatically performing tasks that meet their needs. This allows you to concentrate on the essentials and develop your Sims' talents through the game's numerous activities.
Note, however, that the camera controls are awkward and impractical. It's impossible to move in three dimensions, and its a huge letdown for a game that benefits from the experience of the three previous episodes.
Not technically amazing, but very well optimized
Years after The Sims 3, many were expecting a true graphical overhaul for this new edition. Unfortunately, the difference between The Sims 3 and The Sims 4 is clearly not as apparent as it should be. Despite the addition of some nice graphical effects that look appealing, the graphics of this new version were already dated from the moment it was released. It's too bad, although this drawback does have an advantage in making the game compatible with less powerful computers.
Not to take away from the technical aspect in this new Sims, the level of facial detail has clearly improved. The main improvement lies in the huge number of animations available, with Sims now being able to go through a wide range of emotions. You can, therefore, experience lots of funny situations that help give an excellent impression of Sims life as a whole.
Full of idea with just a bit too much DLC
The Sims 4 is an underwhelming success. The developer seems to have worked hard on the interface; the Sims character creator and the build mode are gems of simplicity and have great potential. With a much needed revised system and better automation of your Sims, you now have more freedom for a better gaming experience.
Unfortunately, the game is tarnished by flaws that are not easily overlooked, especially for longtime fans of the series. In addition to undeniable technical inadequacies, the game has been stripped of large amounts of content compared to the Sims 3, indicating a very long series of paid downloadable content coming soon. This is an unfortunate move on the part of Electronic Arts, who may want to review their policy in the coming years if they want avoid alienating many of their fans.