Republished on Wednesday 29th January 2020: We're bringing this review back from the archives following the announcement of February's PlayStation Plus lineup. The original text follows.
You begin The Sims 4 by creating a Sim - an avatar of a person, perhaps based on yourself only thinner, more popular, and with cooler hair - using a fairly robust character creation suite. You can start the game with your Sim at any stage of their life, from toddler to elder, and you assign them a bunch of personality traits - neat, artistic, evil, whatever - that will dictate what makes them tick. In a nice touch, when you're creating your Sim you can assign feminine traits to masculine characters and vice versa, as well as mixing and matching clothing and cosmetic options. If you want your tubby, bearded Sim to wear high heels and pink lipstick and walk like a runway model then you be fabulous.
Once your Sim is ready, you're given a small amount of money in order to buy yourself a home in one of the towns available to you. Given your modest finances there's not much choice, but once you're a captain of industry and making big bucks you can throw money around like confetti, purchasing or designing lavish homes with every conceivable amenity. Until then, you better get used to washing your own dishes, fixing your own broken appliances, and cooking your own macaroni and cheese. If you want to live a life of luxury then you're going to need coin, and fortunately, finding a job in The Sims 4 is way easier than in real life, in that you pretty much just decide what you want to do and then do it. Once you're gainfully employed a routine begins to form. Your Sim gets up, gets out of bed, drags a comb across their head, spends eight hours in the office, comes home, has their dinner, watches an episode of Gordon Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares and then goes back to bed, ready to repeat the entire process tomorrow.
The daily grind of life is the main gameplay loop here, made a little more compelling than perhaps it sounds by a series of clearly defined goals and a fairly steady stream of rewards. Practically everything your Sim does is tied to a progress bar in one skill or another, and so while in real life you might prefer to have an extra twenty minutes in bed than get up to scrape together some scrambled eggs and toast on a morning, doing so here will contribute towards levelling up your cooking skill which will allow you to cook more elaborate dishes in the future. Everything from working out to reading a book to fixing a leaking toilet is somehow tied to a skill in this manner, and so thanks to the simple RPG systems in play it constantly feels like you're achieving something, however slight, when performing otherwise menial tasks.
As your Sim progresses through life, friendships that they've made can potentially lead to romances, leading to marriage and then children. Or you can just get a girl knocked up after a few drinks and a couple of cheeky one liners. Perhaps your Sim is a lesbian and wants to adopt. Having a partner - and the game is refreshingly liberal when it comes to who can fall in love with who - means you've got two Sims to look after once they've moved in. Two Sims means twice as much work, but also twice the potential income. Raising a child in The Sims 4 feels strangely meaningful, from teaching them to talk as babies, to helping them with their homework in grade school, right through to the crushing disappointment you'll feel once they hit puberty and become goths. When your original Sim finally keels over and dies you can continue playing as the child they raised, effectively allowing the game to go on forever.
If you're into simulation games then The Sims 4 has all of the tinkering and micromanagement that you could ever want, but that does come with some caveats that could hamper your enjoyment somewhat. It could just be our puny, goldfish memory spans, but the control scheme in the game seems almost impossible to remember. In fact, it's the only game we can recall playing in which there is constantly a reminder on screen that there's a button - L3 - dedicated solely to bringing up an illustration highlighting what the control scheme actually is. The controls change depending on what mode you're in - building, shopping, or living - and that can lead to confusion and frustration.
There's a swamp of menus to wade through, particularly when you're building or buying new household items. We ran into a few bugs, too - one time our Sim was waiting for a coffee pot to stew, and no matter how many times we tried to cancel the action it wouldn't work, and another time our Sim accidentally got stuck in a pose like Christ The Redeemer and wouldn't move no matter what we did. Resetting the game sorted it out, but we had a bunch of other issues similar to this, and that starts to grate after a while.
The Sims has always been pretty bizarre, when you think about it. It's different to most forms of escapism in that it turns the monotonous tasks we hate doing in real life into a game, replicating the very thing most of us are trying to avoid by playing it in the first place. The Sims 4 is the latest and best in the long running franchise and there's absolutely nothing else like it on the market for PlayStation 4. It's the most faithful recreation of the drudgery of daily life on the market, but it's also marred by a bewildering array of control quirks, annoying bugs, and overnumerous menus. If you're prepared to persevere with the more clumsily implemented aspects of the game then there's a lot to love - and there's a ridiculous amount of content - but some will likely be put off by its often obtuse nature.
Its a good game control will always be an issue when the port came over from. The biggest miss is user created content. Its less than half price on Origins atm if anyone wants it on PC.
I'm thinking about getting my girlfriend this for Christmas, she'll have plenty of time to play it while I'm plugged into Zelda...
As always, I'm here all day if anybody has any questions.
Loving the game so far, especially as its exactly like playing the PC version on console. I've ran into 1 or 2 bugs so far but nothing game breaking. Really hope they keep up DLC support.
God this sounds horrible, and my wife wants it. I just don't understand why anyone would like these games. Do everything you do in real life in a game.
My sim was getting married; the grim reaper showed up during the reception and killed one of the guests. I pleaded for his life, the grim reaper resurrected him and then me and the reaper proceeded to chat and ended up friends.
I love the weirdness and unpredictability of this series, flaws and all.
@Gatatog Last time my girlfriend played Sims 3 she made me and her, and I died trying to fix a broken toilet. Somehow I managed to set fire to it. It's hard to think of a less flammable object around the house.
I had no interest in this title until I read your anecdote, now I am thinking it sounds quite funny 🤣🤣
Think I'll pick it up for my daughter. She has played the last 2 on PC, so hopefully the controls won't be too complicated. It surprises me that they didn't use the touch pad as the mouse.
@johncalmc great review. Do you think the base game has enough content or can you see a push to purchase dlc?
My favourite part about The Sims is that it's pretty easy turning it into a very different game than originally intended:
I made a serial killer character once, luring strangers to my home and then removing doors in the room they were in (through the editor) so they would starve to death.
I also made a painter character once with the goal of having a studio in my backyard, selling paintings as my only income, was pretty cool.
The sandbox nature of the game makes it easy to invent new gameplay modes.
@Neolit had a snappy comeback, but I've never played gta5, 🤔
@johncalmc nevermind just read your conclusion again and you answered it in the last sentence. How about, do you think dlc will be wanted within a reasonable amount of time?
@Elodin Honestly I think you could play the base game for dozens and dozens of hours and you'd never need DLC. The DLC is mainly for cosmetic items and stuff like that. I played the game extensively before the review - I don't have figures but if I had to guess I probably stuck thirty hours plus into it - and there's absolutely loads of stuff left in it.
To get to the bit where you're ridiculously rich and you can build your dream home isn't like ten hours or something. It's a massive time investment.
I had no.3 on the PC & just used it as a house / mansion / estate building game. I couldnt be arsed with the actual people. Much like IRL I guess 🤔
@kyleforrester87 Lol I had a sink burst into flames and kill my Sim in the original Sims years ago.
@johncalmc Great review but it's a shame they don't do two player co-op anymore since Sims 2. My son and I still play that on the Gamecube from time to time.
Haven't played The Sims since forever. I feel super guilty when I read books on the game to get smarter when there are actual books in my library ready to be read.
@johncalmc thank you, I'll pick it up.
Wow, it sounds so much like real life! Can your Sims character come home from work and sit down and play The Sims on his computer all evening? 😂
@kyleforrester87 must be the first documented case of someone dieing fixing a freaking toilet
@AFCC Yup now I suffer PTSD every time I goto the bog
@kyleforrester87 Post Turd Stress Disorder?
@fuzzy833 pre turd stress disorder. I'm fine once I get going.
@kyleforrester87 can you imagine your toilet catching on fire when you're sitting on it? XD
@AFCC only after a particularly hot curry
@Th3solution They actually can. Simception.
I'm surprised the review doesn't mention what a step back this game is from the previous one, or how the Sims games on consoles/handhelds up until now have been watered down versions of the PC games. I'm guessing the reviewer isn't a Sim's fan, cause the review is sorely lacking in information and is pitifully short. I suppose it's good to review the game on it's own merits, but there's a lot more that could have been said and the reviewer sounds like they're just going through the motions. I question if they even like the game.
Put simply, this game is not exactly doing well right now with Sims fans on PC, as it's pretty much inferior to the Sims 3 and arguably Sims 2. They removed the open world and many other features present in Sims 3, much to the dismay of fans. I'm not saying 7/10 isn't a good score, but I'd say it's slightly higher than the game deserves.
That said, the fact that this is on PS4 is a big plus, but I find it kind of annoying how EA is acting like they're doing console owners a big favor by finally giving us the same version PC owners have had and charging a premium to boot. Gee, thanks EA. Why not pile some lootboxes on it while you're at it you ****s.
Not sure if you are still around @johncalmc but do the Sims actually watch Kitchen Nightmares or was that just some colourful imagination on your part? Believe it or not, I would bump this up the backlog to try out sooner if they actually did watch Kitchen Nightmares....
@ralphdibny No, they don't watch any real shows or listen to any real music. That was just my daily routine while I was writing the review.
@johncalmc lol fair enough, I love kitchen nightmares, it is jokes!
It's nice when (if)it works.... The key word being "if". This game has more glitches than ANY Sim game I've played. I LOVE the idea.., but. They forgot they were making a game, not an idea. Ideally this would be amazing. But it's very hard to play through the mess ups.. I hear people complaining about Cyberpunk 2044.. This reaches a WHOLE new level of glitches so if you like glitches THIS game's for YOU!!
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