By Kimari Rennis
The time has come! The Sims 4, the popular simulation franchise is finally available for the PS4 and Xbox One. The quirky people management game allows you to watch its denizens made of sometimes humorous artificial intelligence, make friends, find relationships, get careers, grow, and go on adventures.
If you ask me, it took too long to port this game. Nothing is worse than that feeling of defeat you get when you can’t get a game you want because of its platform. After being heartbroken by the release of the Sims 4 only on the PC, which I did not have, The Sims 3 for the Xbox 360 was my haven. There was nothing I did not accomplish in that game. I completed all the challenges and career paths. I practically owned the Karma meter, and my most memorable moment was building a robot who soon joined my family. I named him “Chester, ” and I’ve loved him ever since. I’ve poured hundreds of hours into the Sims 3 and I’d go back to it any day. When I look at the Sims 4, I feel both loves — and underwhelmed. Items that gave me lovely memories are gone as well as classic customization options, and when I see the available expansion packs, I feel like emptying my pockets because I long for more. I desire more content.
The Sims unique gameplay is what makes the franchise. Life and living it is the concept of the game. There’s no real beginning and end. I wanted to show off this experience to someone who didn’t know the game well. I asked my friend, Justin, to watch me play the Sims 4 via the share play feature on the console. This was the start of a new series called “The Adventures of Justin.”
I strayed away from the save file I made of me becoming an eSports Gamer. In this new Justin world, it was all about my friend in his search for love and journey to success (which we, as young people, are still trying to figure out). Living off of $400 and traveling into the future to move in right next door to his lover, Justin struggles to make a living. He avoids and fights off rivals from his past life and tries to make money without skills and reliable appliances. In our next playthrough, we will try to convince one of Justin’s Rivals to move in – then find a way to kill the Rival so we can do experiments with the Grim Reaper, if we can conjure him up with the right kill. (It’s complicated.)
In addiiton learning how to build houses, I’ve learned the new features implemented in the shift from the Sims 3 to the Sims 4. You can form groups to travel, talk, and sit together. Realistically, if someone jumps into your conversation while you are saying something personal, you can feel embarrassed. I still wish there were expansions, of course.
But then I check out the tunes as a distraction. The phenomenal soundtrack for all The Sims games has never failed to put a smile on my face. Even the title screen greets you with joyful music with a hint of mischief, exploration, success, adventure, and the joys and wonders of life between people. All of these emotions and feelings are tied together into a symphony with guitars, violins, trumpets, drums, flutes, the piano, and more. When your Sims are feeling neutral about life, a simple acoustic guitar plays. When energized, a short, fast-paced tune with exaggerated violins plays. Memorizing the themes is part of mastering the game — you’ll know precisely what moods or emotions your Sims have to act upon when certain music plays.
It’s a complex game, too. The Sims can multitask. They can work and talk at the same time which is something the previous Sims games were not capable of. Along with a refined menu design, The Sims 4 showcases its new emotions system and the advanced Sim creation menu. Instead of applying traits that permanently determine how your Sims communicate, your Sims moods give you different creative options. For example, when you are happy, you can choose to brighten someone’s day. A sad or embarrassed Sim can talk about problems and insecurities. With the push and pull abilities for the Create A Sim menu, the possibilities are nearly endless when making your person; you can adjust all body features with the heavy focus on the face. I’ve spent hours creating me as a Sim, and it was enjoyable playing around and experimenting to try and make my face correctly.
The Sims 4 attempts to address the controversy and the issue of gender. The game adds a more advanced drop down menu for gender in the Create Sim section, allowing you to apply information like masculine or feminine clothing, a masculine or feminine body type and even if it uses the bathroom standing up or not. This shows the deep thought and planning and humor put into making The Sims 4.
The game, with all its bells and whistles, feels like a gift. A mix of soft and sharp graphics, new features, and smooth controls makes it feel like the game was made for the console. However, there is always a downside, a $50 added expense. I’m upset about the lack of extra content and having to pay for more of it. Yes, expansions have always been apart of the Sims culture, allowing people to purchase more and overall revolutionary content to introduce to your Sims’ lives. For The Sims 4, it’s different. It feels as if material that was initially supposed to be in the game was plucked out and placed in expansions – which is 3-expansion pack. This stuff you have to buy makes the “vanilla” version of the Sims 4 for the PS4 seem bare and lackluster, especially for a die-hard Sims fan such as myself. Basically, you need more money to have more fun — just like real life. There should be free expansions for fans.
Despite the issue with a lack of content, The Sims 4 is still an excellent life simulation game. It brings your daydreams to life, continuously. Just use your imagination to create a Sim any way you want and control their daily lives. The addictive game’s aura will cause people to play for hours, not only fans but new players to the franchise like those who just want a digital version of a lively dollhouse. With the exception of that expensive expansion, what’s not to love about the mischief and magic of life?
Kimari Rennis is a New York Videogame Critics Circle intern, part of our ongoing partnership with Bronx’s DreamYard Prep School.