The Sims 4. Not a game I was really looking forward to. That alone made me a little sad. I’ve bought all The Sims games since the very first one, nearly all the EPs and SPs and a ton of store content for TS3. And on the whole I’ve enjoyed them all. But nothing looked particularly great about TS4. The screenshots looked cartoony and all EA seemed to push were the Sims and their emotions, something I really couldn’t give a damn about. They sacrificed toddlers, again something I couldn’t care about but I can see how story tellers and legacy players would be annoyed. The lack of swimming pools is a bit disappointing but I can live with that.
The following is a compilation of all the stuff I’ve come across over the last couple of days that’s made an impression, be it good, bad or ugly.
- The game loads in seconds and the loading screens are quick when you’re travelling around town (for now at least, before DLC and EPs no doubt slow it down).
- It feels so smooth to play. No juddering or lag (so far…).
- CAS and build mode seem a lot easier for those who just want to get on and play the game. I have no interest in CAS so for me, taking 5 minutes to make a semi decent Sim was a bonus.
- The roofing tool has been given a proper upgrade. You can have different patterned and coloured roofing sections. You can also quickly make the roof convex or concave by pulling up or down on the little white ball that appears when you select the roof section.
- I love, love, LOVE being able to make objects bigger. This really makes landscaping a lot better as the selection of outdoor plants and rocks isn’t exactly large. In build mode you bring up the cheat console, type in testingcheats true and hit enter. Then grab an object, let go of the mouse, hold down Shift and press ]. To make the object smaller again hold down Shift and press [. As soon as you move the object you’ll see the size difference:
- There is no CASt. I’m finding it really hard to love this game for the simple reason that EA decided to take out CASt, something which we are so used to that it really seems like a massive step backwards. And most of EA’s colours and patterns are downright hideous. I swore that I wouldn’t buy TS4 because there was no CASt and now that I have I knew I should have trusted my instincts. It’s very hard to make a really great room or to have a standard theme running through a build because there’s no way to mix and match colours and patterns properly.
- There is no MOO. Another thing that we’ve become so accustomed to and enjoyed using. You can slightly overlap some objects but this sometimes results in the objects disappearing. My Sim’s front door was constantly vanishing until I moved a flower pot which was nearby.
- Not having the same camera control interface or possibilities, especially in build/buy mode.
- The edges of bookcases and other objects placed in a corner still disappear slightly into the wall. This has always really annoyed me in TS3. It looks like one edge of a bookcase is missing.
- When you’re in build/buy mode the controls are all over the place. The catalogue items are at the bottom, like they’ve always been. The eyedropper, grab and similar tools are along the top of the screen. The options, save, gallery and similar are in the top right of the screen.
- No OS X version and no word from EA if there will ever be one. They’ve obviously learnt from their massive mistake using Cider for TS3 but why no native version for OS X?
getting ready for the usual, pointless ‘Macs aren’t gaming machines’ comments from the less informed
- Whilst the graphics are softer than TS3 I can’t help thinking that The Sims 4 looks like a Facebook version of The Sims 2 on acid.
- The loading screens. Yes, they load quickly but my god they are annoying. You can’t just have a nosy around the neighbourhood whilst your Sim’s doing their thing because there isn’t really anywhere to look around. If you want to look around another area, for example where the library is, you have to send your Sim there so you can have a look. It’s such a giant step backwards and it ruins the flow of gameplay considerably.
- Not being able to place empty lots in the neighbourhood and no really small lots. 20×15 is the smallest lot size.
- I keep getting an annoying glitch whereby when I click on a house to edit, or a sim to play, I get the plumbob loading screen then it goes back to the town view. No matter what lot I try to enter this happens. The only solution is to quit the game and reload it.
The fridges not snapping to counters really irks me:
But the way the counters snap to each other is seamless, especially round open corners. I also like the way the splashbacks only appear when the counters are up against the wall :
It’s quite ironic that a game I have spent the last 5 years complaining about, The Sims 3, is the game I’m going back to isn’t it? A game that always feels like it’s going to kill my Mac any minute and limps along like a lame puppy. But despite all the problems with TS3, which are infinite, the overall gameplay and creative possibilities are great. The Sims 4 just feels empty, like there’s something missing but I can’t precisely pinpoint what it is.