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The Sims 4

Score: 85%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: EA Games
Developer: The Sims Studio
Media: Download/1
Players: 1
Genre: Simulation

Graphics & Sound:

It seems like The Sims have been around for as long as I can remember. Over the years, they have changed a bit with each new version and then added on to the versions. I do believe that the changes from The Sims 3 to The Sims 4 are the biggest ones yet. Some I like, but others I am still having trouble getting used to.

The visuals in The Sims 4 are a drastic improvement over the previous versions, starting with the new Sims creator. If you remember before, you had to click on the various parts of the face or body and you could change them, within boundaries. Now the body, faces, even eyes and hair are all from one screen. You can customize your characters and make them look exactly like you want. You can get so detailed that you can create your friends pretty accurately. The one thing that I was shocked to find is that you cannot change the hair color to any color of the rainbow (like you can in a whole lot of games now). There are 18 different colors that you can choose from for everyone except children. Children only have 9 colors. There are still some that have highlights and varying shades, but youíre stuck with those. I definitely expected more hair color options. The youngest you can create is a child, not a baby or toddler. The choices of outfits are pretty varied, but quite limited compared to how much I have in The Sims 3. I do wish at least some of that had been imported (other than as a trophy that you can buy in-game).

The Sims still speak in Simlish, so you wonít be able to understand them, but you can still choose their voices and customize them quite a bit. There is no "default" background music. You can turn on the radio or the TV and have those as the background music. If you are outside, you will get the ambient sounds of whatever is around your Sim. Personally, I love the calm of the outdoors in the game. Youíll hear birds singing, fish jumping (if you are near a lake or pond), and all manner of soothing sounds.


Gameplay:

The main concept of the game still hasnít changed. In The Sims 4, you will control a household of people. You run their lives; you tell them what to do. You can choose to turn on full autonomy, which will let the Sims do what they want to when you arenít controlling them. I recommend this if you are playing with more than one character because when you set it to off, the ones that you arenít playing with will just do nothing until you tell them to. It can be helpful at times if youíre trying to micromanage for some particular reason. Your Sims can now multitask, which I have really wanted for years now. For example, you can talk on the phone while doing other things like watching TV, etc. This really helps out. There is a bit of an issue with the sleep sometimes, as far as I can tell. If you put a Sim to sleep when their energy bar is still in the green, they will continue to stay asleep longer than they should, well past when their energy bar is full. Just remember if you tell them to go to bed before they are tired, you should check and make sure they wake up when their energy is full.

There are some things that I donít like about the new changes. I miss being able to watch their needs meter while theyíre at work. It helped to determine if you might need them to slack off at work or leave early. When a Sim goes to work or school, the only thing you can do is change their effort there. When you want to use your handy skill to upgrade items now, you have to have repair parts to perform the upgrade. You can find these repair parts pretty easily when you repair the broken things around your house.

You will travel around your town differently than before. You can no longer zoom all the way out to see the entire town. Instead when you zoom out, you will see the entire "neighborhood." Each town is broken up into several of these. As of now, the houses are completely separate from the business, so no more living next to the bar unless you rearrange things and change lot types. Moving between neighborhoods is quite quick though, so itís not a huge pain once you get used to it. I just prefer the old way better. However, you can switch between towns very easily now. Itís very quick to switch to another town or another family in either town, which makes playing with multiple families much easier than before.


Difficulty:

Overall, I feel like the difficulty in The Sims 4 is comparable to The Sims 3, but some things are easier and some are harder. As I mentioned, switching households and towns is much quicker and easier than before. I found the Build Mode much easier to work with. You can still get extremely granular building your dream home, but if you donít care for that level of detail, then you can easily use the Build-a-Room Quick feature. It just feels like everything about the house designing is easier.

The schools and jobs are harder than before. School is harder for kids to get good grades. Not only do you have to do your homework, but you also have to get your kid in the right mood, or do extra credit, whichever they want. I found it difficult to get the kids in the mood that they wanted. Yes, your Sims now have moods/emotions. I realize that they had "moodlets" before, but now those moodlets will combine to put your Sim into specific moods. A mood such as Flirty will make your Sim more amorous and eager to woohoo. They can get upset if you donít agree to their desires. Instead of relying on environmental and other factors for the moods, you can use a good shower to set certain moods, like Flirty and Energized, among others. As of right now, I didnít find that you absolutely must deal with the moods. If you ignore them, your Sim might get unhappy for a bit, but theyíll get over it. The moods can be quite useful, as I mentioned before in school, and also in your work, relationship, etc.. Itís definitely something I need to play around with a lot more just to figure out all the specifics.

There is no town hall to self-register jobs now. If you want to be a painter, author, etc., you will still have to put in a dayís work like everyone else. I really donít like this change. I used those professions to be able to explore the world and work anywhere. Now, if you want to make the money you need to live, youíll have to get a job and just push yourself to the top of the job as quickly as possible. If you want to explore a lot, youíll need a stay-at-home spouse or some other Sim that doesnít have to work.


Game Mechanics:

The controls in The Sims 4 have definitely changed up a bit, for the better I think. It took me a few minutes to get used to the way things have moved around, but the bar at the bottom takes up a lot less room now, which in turn gives you more space on the screen. There are no buttons to click on to move the camera. Instead, everything is done with your mouse. You simply click and drag to rotate the camera. You can click to re-center the camera wherever you want to and your mouse wheel still zooms in and out. I never used the buttons on the left side of The Sims 3 to move the camera anyway, so itís nice to have more screen area. The one thing that I donít like is that you canít zoom all the way out to see the whole town due to the way that they present your town that I mentioned earlier. You have to zoom out and then click on travel to get between different areas.

I have covered a lot in this review, but there are so many more things left that you will need to discover for yourself. There are some things that I really love about the new The Sims 4, like the character creator, the much faster loading times, the ease of switching households, and the easier Build Mode, just to name a few. However, I donít like the way the town is chopped up into areas that you have to travel between. I do realize that helps the loading times though. I also donít like the profession changes. I really enjoyed the "self-employed" jobs like writer and painter that you didnít have to go to work daily, giving you more time to explore the worlds. As for now, I think I will still be playing The Sims 3, at least until there are more expansions added. I really miss my supernatural characters a lot, among other things. I definitely see potential in The Sims 4 though and I am eagerly awaiting more content. If youíre looking for the better graphics and other things that have changed, you will thoroughly enjoy The Sims 4.


-Cyn, GameVortex Communications
AKA Sara Earl

Minimum System Requirements:



OS: Windows XP or higher, CPU: 1.8 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, AMD Athlon 64 Dual Core 4000+ or equivalent, RAM: 2 GB, Graphics: 128 MB of Video RAM and support for Pixel Shader 3.0, Hard Drive: 10 GB free, DirectX 9.0c Compatible
 

Test System:



OS: Windows 8.1, CPU: Intel Core i7-3630QM 2.4 GHz, RAM: 16 GB, Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GT 730M, Hard Drive: 400 GB free

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