By Kermath Davies
Few things are as iconic as the little green diamond that floats above the head of a Sim - not surprising, seeing as The Sims is the most successful game series of all time.
With 14 years of development under their belt, developer Maxis was proud to debut their fourth edition of the cult game at E3 this year. However, there are more than a few notable features present in The Sims 3 that are all but lost in The Sims 4.
It's a malady we've seen in games before like GTA IV, where flying was almost completely omitted because of the map shrinkage and development focused instead on detailing. Most of the work went into making GTA IV look great rather than expanding horizons, and I feel the same can be said for The Sims 4.
Let's start with the positives. The biggest and most obvious change is in the all-new Sims Personality Creator.
You're not only fleshing out their clothes, but aspirations, designing what kind of a person they will become and how they interact with other Sims. Each Sim has one main aspiration, with spaces for three traits that you can add to the equation.
These will cue up milestones for your Sim and make for deciding factors in how impatient, bitchy or annoying your Sim becomes to others.
Your Sims can also multitask in a way that's unparalleled in any other simulator I've ever played. They eat in front of the TV like normal humans do, or train and talk to others at the same time about spaceships or underwear.
Their autonomous minds are designed to interact and react to things that are genuinely surprising, tapping into an entire range of emotions never before seen in the series.
I spoke to Associate Producer Azure Bowie-Hankins at E3 this year, who was very proud of the outcome from the research that went into every interaction, from obvious actions like cooking and talking to each other, to the little things like how their body language will change, depending on which Sim they're talking to.
Unfortunately, it's not all a great time. As I mentioned before, The Sims 4 lacks a few things from its predecessors, like swimming pools and expansive, seamless maps.
The amount of times the loading screen pops up is a little ridiculous; you can't even visit your neighbours without the game having to think about it. You also can't see where your Sims work and some key career paths, like law enforcement, have been completely wiped, and this is only the tip of the iceberg from stuff that didn't make the cut.
That aside, I'm actually not bothered by the missing components as much as I thought I would be. To be honest, when I started playing I could see and appreciate the amount of development that's gone into making the game's tools efficient and generally much more fun to play around with.
You could create practically anyone using the Sim Personality Creator, and it's scarily accurate. Almost every part of the body is modifiable. You can push and pull at cheekbones, or create a style to suit their body-type or personality.
Obviously I created a virtual me and, in doing so, a high maintenance nightmare.
He's driven to succeed in financial wealth and will one day buy his very own mansion, along with 15 pieces of art. At the moment he's eating everything in the house and sleeps in as much through the day as possible.
He's also slim, not too built but toned enough to see some muscle. Just like me in real life, right?
When I tried naming him, I found that the filters were smarter than previous versions. I first tried Rich Bitch, which was obviously disallowed, so I then tried Baby, then Sexyman. After 30 minutes of trial-and-error with sassy last names, I settled for Huntley Banger.
I also added three flatmates to the equation of random traits and appearances. The creepy part was adding a Sim that represented my dream boyfriend into the house and watching him and virtual me actually form a love bond without real me having to do anything!
That's not even possible for real-life me, so in rage I partitioned the house into two separate dwellings, where they would learn to live apart, with whatever flatmates were on each side of the fence at the time.
After I realised how psycho I was, I restarted and created the Banger Family. The reason I mention this is because if you looked up their surname in the new online catalogue, you'll be able to find the house I designed for them and buy it for yourself, so you don't have to start from scratch.
Even better, if you like my kitchen or living room, but dislike my bathrooms floor-to-ceiling windows, you can choose to just buy the former and add it on to your own dream home. You can also pick up entire rooms, furniture and all, and move them around instead of demolishing them.
Sims have grown old and died from the amount of time it takes to relocate an area of a house in older versions, so I'm sure many will find this new feature a godsend.
What's more, all houses from previous Sims online catalogues are ported and searchable in The Sims 4, where before you'd have to stop your game, go to a website and download what you wanted. Now everything is right there and it works.
You're also able to import individual Sims this way too. Creating and sharing is just as simple. In about two clicks, your masterpiece is uploaded and becomes available for download to all of The Sims community. Easy.
I really under-rated this game before I gave it a fair chance. I've especially enjoyed the new variety of death animations, which became my new fun thing to do with the Banger Family.
The player is in charge of their Sims' emotions from the beginning all the way through, but if you manage to push them to extremes, they can die from laughing too much, die from embarrassment and a variety of death by anger.
The Sims 4 is incredibly addictive and has forged its own beautiful space in the gaming realm. Yes, there are obvious things missing that some older fans might notice in The Sims 4, but it's excusable for the amount of cool new features and tools that the new title packs.
We've all grown up with them and The Sims will live with us for at least another generation. As equal as the new aspirations will be a thrill for old Sims players, I guarantee you'll have a good time even if you've never played a game in your life.
It's straightforward, good time gaming that adds yet another knot to Maxis Studio's success.
It's the way The Sims ought to be.
The Sims 4
:: Publisher: EA Games
:: Developer: The Sims Studio
:: Format: PC, Mac
:: Rating: M
source: newshub archive