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Review

The Sims 4 Review

  • First Released Sep 2, 2014
    released
  • Reviewed Sep 10, 2014
  • PC

The minigame of life.

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Control-shift-C-"motherlode." It's a series of commands that every Sims player knows, the one that infuses your bank account with precious simoleans for buying the fanciest lamps, laying the plushest carpet, and landscaping with the most impressive of shrubbery. Few games are so defined by their cheat codes, yet if you want to move a digital family into an upscale abode without devoting dozens of hours to building up funds, this code is your ticket to affordable maid service and plush window treatments.

This approach treats The Sims as a dollhouse, a role that The Sims 4 fulfills with some aplomb. If you want to build but prefer not to micromanage the details, the game comes with various prearranged rooms that you can fit together like Tetris pieces, but if you're devoted to the arts of architecture and interior design, you have the series most streamlined set of buying and building tools yet. Buy and Build modes share the same interface, making it simple to mix creation and decoration rather than forcing you to approach each activity as an opposing side of the same simolean. Stretching and dragging walls into properly modular rectangles? It's as easy as knowing how to use a mouse and keyboard. Not sure what category a chess set falls under? Just type a keyword into the search field and select the best match. Given the conflation of two modes into one, and the amount of categories to sift through, The Sims 4 does a creditable job of leading you right to the objects and tools you're seeking.

On the surface, there would seem to be more than enough styles and objects from which to choose: sofas of various shapes and colors, tiles for making your bathroom as 1970s-era-tacky as you'd like, and other means of personalizing the homes of your little computer people. When the time comes to set up a life of leisure, however, the boundaries become more rigid than they first appear. The Sims 3's Create-a-Style options, which let you texturize and paint your surfaces and textiles in intricate ways, has been dropped, leaving only predetermined colors in their place. Color can make a great throughline for aesthetically linking various shapes and styles, but should you gun for an eclectic interior, you quickly find that objects don't always have the same hues available between them. Mixing and matching can make a room look more random than refined; the Create-a-Style option provided a means of connecting disparate decor, and its loss diminishes creativity.

In fact, The Sims 4 as a rule feels diminished when compared to even the vanilla version of The Sims 3, before it had the benefit of add-ons that let you be a ghostbuster and live in high-rises. Much has already been made of the features that didn't make the cut, but even if you don't have a list of those features on hand when you play, the squashed purview is apparent. I didn't mind the small lot I initially laid claim to until I decided to splurge on a telescope, an item that at one time was compact enough to fit into a small corner of the yard. By contrast, The Sims 4's starting telescope, a gargantuan beast that most amateur astronomers would kill to own, couldn't fit, and I ultimately erected it on a public lot, in front of the library. Previous Sims modders (and a Sims 2 expansion) had introduced microscopes to the mix, but I had no room for the lab-quality colossus in The Sims 4. Limitations, limitations, limitations. It wasn't The Sims I had gotten used to over the last several years.

Creating a nice home is simple--provided you don't want a basement.
Creating a nice home is simple--provided you don't want a basement.

The Sims 4 doesn't just take away. It has presents to give, too, in the form of new kinds of social interactions, objects, and other charming detours that make keeping an eye on your sims a sheer delight. Multitasking is at the forefront of these changes: sims greet visitors without putting down their cereal bowls and chat while gardening. Using the toilet is also not an event your sims have to fully focus on, and I laughed heartily when the digital version of myself sat on the john while playing games on his tablet; it really was like peeking in on a little me. My sim daughter, meanwhile, felt it was appropriate to drink her orange juice while peeing, a combination of activities I am not sure I can support.

I am not sure I should share my misgivings with the young woman, though. In The Sims 4, sims are quite moody, getting embarrassed should you send one sim to the shower when another is seated on the toilet, and getting randy when they're in the vicinity of their spouses. You're constantly pushed to take advantage of these moods, earning points for small accomplishments that you spend on rewards that provide temporary buffs (get energized immediately!) or permanent enhancements (never get fired!). Sims also gain access to new kinds of social interactions when they get moody--angry sims want to get in fights, embarrassed sims need reassurance, focused sims want to play chess, and so forth.

No Caption Provided
Hand buzzers and holographic video games: Entertainment at its best!
Hand buzzers and holographic video games: Entertainment at its best!

Changes in mood are accompanied by predictably ridiculous exclamations in the gibberish language known as simlish. One sim I closely maintained was particularly mischievous, fooling neighbors with a hand buzzer and insulting anyone that dared assemble at the club while she sucked down a nightcap. I would have her make fun of other sims' clothing, which she did in an adorable snotty tone, causing her victim to recoil in horror at her obnoxiousness. I gave that same sim the snobby trait, and selected a default walk animation which had her head tilted upwards so that she could look down her nose at the plebeians that dared walk the same Earth. Watching her strut her stuff was consistently wonderful, though she wasn't the only digital person worth keeping an eye on: miniature me would use books as puppets, opening and closing them like mouths and mimicking what they might say before cracking them open and actually reading. Watching your sims in action means having a frequent smile stretched across your face.

Turning these individual activities into long-form stories isn't as compelling as it was in The Sims 3, however. The previous game's open world, which allowed for seamless travel and smooth multi-sim control, has been replaced by smaller lots separated by loading screens--a system that harks back to older games in the series. Having to stare at a loading screen when you want to travel to the park is distracting enough; moving back to your home lot to maintain other family members and finding them standing stiffly in front of the house, waiting for your commands rather than naturally going about their business, is even more so.

No Caption Provided
Death and woohoo. The circle of Sims life.
Death and woohoo. The circle of Sims life.

The deeper you wish to go, the more roadblocks you stumble upon. Perhaps it's sensible that a game with no large spaces to traverse would not feature bicycles, but I still miss riding across town, zooming over hills and through valleys until I reached the graveyard and harassed the ghosts there. Not only is transportation gone, but so are the hills and valleys, all of them smoothed out into a uniformly flat surface that doesn't support basements or terraforming. Elsewhere, the emphasis on specific tasks detracts from the freeform noodling. When giving my first birthday party, for instance, I was so focused on fulfilling assigned tasks like serving drinks that I failed to notice how differently The Sims 4 handled birthday cakes than its predecessor. I missed being able to simply buy the cake, scatter around some balloons, and have a wonderful time. When I had failed to please the birthday girl, I didn't feel as though I hadn't given everyone a good enough time--I felt like I hadn't clicked on the right things in the right order. It is in that distinction that you find the difference between The Sims 4 and its predecessor.

In short, The Sims 4's biggest problem is that The Sims 3 exists, and describing where it stumbles by necessity means looking at where the series has been. This is a lovely and lively game that elicits constant smirks, but The Sims 4's moments never feel like part of a bigger picture. Spontaneity is limited in turn, which brings me back to that gargantuan telescope now sitting in front of the library. Gazing at the stars means enduring a loading screen, and while I appreciate the top-level commands that I can issue to family members playing in other lots, simultaneously spending time with other sims means enduring even more loading screens, or forcing my family to travel together. I love looking at and listening to The Sims 4, but those little digital people aren't so enchanting as to keep me hooked--not when a decked-out version of The Sims 3 is far more inviting.

Back To Top
The Good
Colorful visuals and fantastic audio make watching your sims a joy
The core build and buy tools are both robust and accessible
Moods and multitasking lead to hilarious sim actions
The Bad
Cramped structure limits personal stories and restrains multi-sim control
Far too many series features have been frustratingly pruned or removed
6
Fair
About GameSpot's Reviews

About the Author

Kevin VanOrd can't count the number of times he wearily dragged himself to bed at four in the morning while playing the original Sims. He has nurtured two large households over the course of 30 hours or so for this review. He still feels weird having watched the maid walk around his digital sim's dead body while she cleaned the kitchen.
488 Comments  RefreshSorted By 
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Avatar image for dr0siko
dr0siko

Gamespot tried hardly to polish this game's reputation for weeks trying to convince people it's "decent" and "worth buying", so I expected a untruthful review and rating.. but as they rated it 6/10, it's fair imo.

Avatar image for hmoobpaladin
hmoobpaladin

EA, you done f***ed up, again! Also, bring back Story Progression!

Avatar image for nothingformoney
NothingForMoney

@eloquent_win SimCity 4 was great

Avatar image for dr0siko
dr0siko

@nothingformoney says no one ever...

Avatar image for saturatedbutter
SaturatedButter

@dr0siko Sim City fans pretty universally agree that SimCity 4 was great. The newest one was terrible.

Avatar image for adventure2u
adventure2u

@saturatedbutter Sicm city 4 is the newest one

Avatar image for saturatedbutter
SaturatedButter

@adventure2u @saturatedbutter The newest one is simply called "SimCity" with no number on it. People refer to it as either Sim City 5 or Sim City (2013). Sim City 4 came out in 2003.

Avatar image for CrackDima
CrackDima

@adventure2u @saturatedbutter no the new one was 5

Avatar image for jdonoso
jdonoso

@adventure2u @saturatedbutter The newest one is Sim City 5, jesus... xD

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BoxOfPocky

@nothingformoney Depending on how high and/or drunk you are when you are playing it.

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PETERAKO

@nothingformoney @eloquent_win I think he mistook simcity 2013 as a 4

Avatar image for Dannerfjord
Dannerfjord

Sims 4 is a great little game. But i think its too small for an A-rating and the pricing should be cut... Also, it seems that they very clearly want to make people want more stuff in the game. To sell expansions. That is typical of EA and i think its such a greedy move, that i won't endorse it with even buying the game. expand the content without the added cost.

Avatar image for digigamerx
DigiGamerX

@Dannerfjord Yep, that's what I said in another comment. It's going to be the same as Sims 3 with it's hundred or so expansions. They will never release a Sims 3 with all the expansions in it, they make too much money selling them individually. Way to kill the Sims franchise EA/Maxis. I must admit, they did a really great job and went out all the way.

Avatar image for jophy
jophy

@eloquent_win anything bought by EA is dead or soon to be

Avatar image for GIF
GIF

So buy Sims 3 if I want a similar experience? Is there a mega pack on the PC with all the DLC to date?

Avatar image for jophy
jophy

@GIF buy sims 3 for better and more experience. Not similar.

Avatar image for Abberon
Abberon

EA/Maxis are so incompetent these days that they can't even compete with older versions of their own games.


From Spore, to Sim City to Sims 4, this literally has to be one of the worst major studios in the gaming industry.

Avatar image for indiexanna
Indiexanna

@Abberon And SimCity Societies wasn't that great too

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RoastedZombies

@indiexanna @Abberon Sim City 4 was the last great Sim City.

Avatar image for tumblerpiston
TumblerPiston

Well, this is disappointing. I knew the game would get dumbed down to some extent, but not to this level. To make matters worse some of these things aren't even fixable with add ons or expansions (We all know there'll be plenty of those) in particular the lack of an open world and the loading screens. If they do find ways around those then you could very easily make the argument that those features should have been should've been in the game to begin with.

Avatar image for blikketty
blikketty

I nominate Mary for reading everyone's reviews from now on, but can we get her a pop filter for her mic? or maybe a de-esser in editing?

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ggregd

It looks the same as Sims 2 and 3, but with shadows.

Avatar image for vadagar1
vadagar1

mean while on IGN


10/10 best game to date


: /

Avatar image for roastedzombies
RoastedZombies

@vadagar1 I used to like IGN more, but they have gotten really bad recently, and now I stick to GameSpot.

Avatar image for Hekteur
Hekteur

@vadagar1 I suggest you ACTUALLY go to ign and read their review before saying anything stupid.

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Abberon

@vadagar1


Maybe get a clue and realize he's poking fun at IGN and their horrible reputation for untrustworthy reviews.

Avatar image for jdonoso
jdonoso

@Abberon @vadagar1 IGN gave The Sims 4 a 7.5 rating... too generous :/ http://www.ign.com/articles/2014/09/02/the-sims-4-review

Avatar image for Hekteur
Hekteur

That's an interesting cycle phase we're in right now. Way back then people started to ask for innovation. The devs started raising the bar for gaming and added features over features. Most games become buggier and buggier over the year. People started to whine about bugs "Hey stupid devs and publisher!!! We don't need our games to be more beautiful or to have more content. We have enough now. What we want is functional games not crippled by bugs." Some devs took the decision of making their development cycle longer while other decided to focus on making solid stable games instead of keeping raising that "content bar". Now, the gamers are complaining that their games doesn't have more content than the previous iteration and that the games take way too long to make...

Avatar image for Abberon
Abberon

@Hekteur


Maybe even a fraction of what you're saying would make sense if EA didn't have a long and storied history of botching releases and not offering value.

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Shelledfade1

@Hekteur You must be delusional if you think cutting content is necessary in order to make a game that isn't a crappy console port / badly optimized buggy game. Get help.

Avatar image for MoreThot
MoreThot

@Hekteur It's EA.. They never get their shit right. TBH this was done on purpose with lack of content so they can push it into a expansion (I use that word loosely) and charge 30 bucks for a pool, basement and grill etc etc.

Avatar image for Urizen316
Urizen316

There you go. Kevin VanOrd writes a game tailormade for him, and let's someone else voice it.

Keep it this way.

Avatar image for fitriulina11
fitriulina11

@Urizen316 Personally I like building houses, I do more building than playing sometimes. Then again I build/collect miniatures as a hobby and have actually built dollhouses. I have Sims 3 and all but one expansion pack, they are fun but I'm also enjoying the sims 4. Sure there are things I'd like to see added eventually, but there is nothing I require to enjoy the game as it stands.

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Urizen316

@fitriulina11 @Urizen316 Eh yeah sure, agreed. Not sure how this was a response to me :) I just can't stand VanOrd's godawful pronunciation :P

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grin89

and resident evil 6 got a 4, i miss feedbacula

Avatar image for Hekteur
Hekteur

@grin89 Poooooor little gamer... A game he hates got a better score than another game he likes. As if The Sims shared anything with Resident Evil and should be reviewed the same way.

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StHapns247

I will never understand the draw of The Sims. I've tried many times, but it just can't wrap my head around.

That said, it seems like those who enjoy this series might just as well stick with The Sims 3 until EA adds everything back in with expansions and what not.

Avatar image for taanoir
Taanoir

@StHapns247 To each their own, I'm not big on shooter games for much the same reason I don't understand the draw.


Personally I like building houses, I do more building than playing sometimes. Then again I build/collect miniatures as a hobby and have actually built dollhouses. I have Sims 3 and all but one expansion pack, they are fun but I'm also enjoying Sims 4. Sure there are things I'd like to see added eventually, but there is nothing I require to enjoy the game as it stands.

Avatar image for simuseb2
simuseb2

@StHapns247 Well for me, I like expanding my family tree to be bigger and bigger and seeing my sim's genetic's mesh together. The Sims appeal lies in these things:

1) Creation- Its basically a virtual doll house and a building simulator. You can create whatever kind of person you want, and you can build your own house and furnish it.

2) Stories- It's a medium used to tell simple stories.


3) Comedy- This kind of ties with stories. It's funny to watch your sim die, then the grim reaper take his soul away and then read the newspaper on the toliet afterwards before leaving. Its funny to see your sim succumb to insanity as he is forced to interact with the only entity who loves him- the social bunny. Its funny to see your male sim, after being abducted by aliens, returning pregnant.

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Unreal849

@StHapns247 It's kinda like playing with Barbies, for grown-ups. Not my cup of tea either.

Avatar image for StHapns247
StHapns247

@unreal849 I prefer to think of them as "action figures"

Avatar image for PETERAKO
PETERAKO

Kind of expected. If you count that the new features might get old before long then the score might drop. Sims4 is basically back to to square 1. Sims 1 HD edition. only bones are left. tissue sold seperately


BTW the visuals have recieved conflicting criticism. I would say its subjective but I think that its bad that they havent recieved any meaningful upgrades.

Avatar image for Hekteur
Hekteur

@PETERAKO yeah.. The Sims 4 is EXACTLY like the first Sim game... with upgraded graphic... and multitasking... and emotion system... open world actually being present (NO, loading screens doesn't remove the "open world" from a game The Elder Scroll and every other open worlds always had loading screen), all the new customization options, that new solid Sim creator, that entirely new game engine, tons of new interaction, tons of new skills (do you actually remember how many skills there was in the first Sim game???), and while I could keep the list going for long, I'm just going to stop right here.

Avatar image for PETERAKO
PETERAKO

@Hekteur @PETERAKO I stand by everything I said. I Don't find the graphics to be upgraded, sidegraded at best. Multitasking Is only a small adition and the same goes for emotions that as I said will get old without the rest of the game. The lots are seperated instead of being seemless and feel isolated unlike games like skyrim's world that feels seemless even with (instantaneous) loading. It comes down to "sims 3 had no loading screens". I insist that this feels like a downgrade to the ways of the first sims game both in shape and content. I also condemn sims 4 for being a barebone (overpriced) base blatantly build for selling DLC.


Also since sims 3 The sims games feel devoid of challenge and any level of difficulty. My sister could advance her sim to riches in half a day.

Avatar image for mappyislove
mappyislove

6 was a fair enough score for this game, but honestly though, I'd give sims 4 a 4. Thanks EA for your money grabbing bullshit. Can somebody please set fire on their office so all this bullshit ends?

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KrayzieStryker

@mappyislove you need to beheaded the snakes or it will come back... ^^

But yes EA should just burn and starts from the beginning of their career maybe they will think once again about their costumer and not only their money and marketing

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Blue-Sky

Can't wait to pirate this in 2-3 years when they actually release enough features to match Sims 3. Refuse to give EA my money for this poor development model.

Avatar image for mappyislove
mappyislove

lol at the sims kevin!

The Sims 4 More Info

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  • First Released Sep 2, 2014
    released
    • Linux
    • Macintosh
    • + 3 more
    • PC
    • PlayStation 4
    • Xbox One
    The Sims 4 is a simulation game that lets players create new Sims with intelligence and emotion.
    5.6
    Average Rating362 Rating(s)
    Please Sign In to rate The Sims 4
    Developed by:
    Maxis, Electronic Arts
    Published by:
    Electronic Arts
    Genre(s):
    Simulation
    Content is generally suitable for ages 13 and up. May contain violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, simulated gambling and/or infrequent use of strong language.
    Teen
    Crude Humor, Sexual Themes, Violence