The Sims 4: a moody hands-on

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GC The Sims 4

The Sims 4 isn’t too far from release now. I got to play it during Gamescom and I’m only slightly embarrassed to say that I ended up playing for way longer than planned. It’s rather fun and addictive, and has plenty of new features to keep you entertained.

Create a Sim

This is the starting point for most people jumping into The Sims. The new Create a Sim is available as a demo for those who want to try it out for themselves, but I was thoroughly impressed and amused by it.

For my first Sim, I decided to start by importing a character from the gallery. This was rather quick and painless and gave me an awesome goth chick as a jumping off point. I decided to make her hips a bit bigger, though – something done by simply grabbing them an pulling. I could do the same with her shoulders and legs; it was just as easy and intuitive as the videos made it seem. Next up was fixing up her face, something that I could do in minute detail. I grabbed hold of her eyelids and changed her squint and even changed the direction in which her nostrils flared.

Beyond her physical attributes, I also adjusted her psychological ones, giving her some mischievous traits paired with some playfulness. How to make a prankster in one easy step. She was certainly a whole bunch of fun to play with, but I’ll get to that part later.

After playing for a while, I decided to return to Create A Sim to make a new character from scratch. After making a traditionally handsome man, it was a matter of choosing a style for him. There are a bunch of present style options for those of you who don’t know how to match shirts and shoes. Options include the Emo Train or even some bizarre hipster fashions. However, when dressing Swag McSwaggleson, I made him look like the totally preppy dude I knew he should be. I even gave him some greedy traits to watch him “make it rain”. Swag is saved in the gallery, too, so you can feel free to download him and see just how gratuitously swaggy he is.

Build mode

I’m not normally one to spend much time in build mode in The Sims. Most of my building time is spent swearing at the screen while I try to figure out how to make all the furniture face the right directions so that my Sims can sit on the couch and watch TV. The new Build Mode, however, makes things way easier – even for idiots like me.

I barely even tried to design my little starter home, instead opting to drag around the existing rooms and build on using the gallery. As you might expect, building is still the most expensive part of the game. I couldn’t even come close to affording most of the prettier rooms that people had built, but it was still cool to see all the options available. Expanding rooms is pretty easy; all you need to do is grab onto a wall and drag where you want it. Furniture readjusts as the room grows so that you don’t need to move each item to suit the enlarged space.

Rooms can also be moved as entire units, something that the game desperately needed for when you want to swap around the bedroom and kitchen. While this functionality works really well, it’s important to note that any rooms with outside walls will also change the shape of your home. I was a bit perturbed when I moved the bedroom only to find that the front door was now directly in front of my bed. That definitely required some fixing.

Changing ceiling height is quite simple and in fact the entire building experience is way easier and more creative. I found the controls to be really intuitive and easy to navigate.

Live mode

While plenty of people love to create characters or build a dream home, the real crux of the game is the live mode, where players can see how the Sims interact and what weird things they get up to. My Sim certain was strange, and I was surprised at just how moody she could get.

Due to her playful and mischievous personality, my Sim loved making jokes and playing pranks on other Sims. While these could energize her and make her even more playful, bad interactions with other Sims could still upset her. However, these led to a whole bunch of new activities. She needed a cold shower at one point to cool off from an interaction, and later on all she wanted to do when feeling flirtatious was tell dirty jokes.

Moving around the world is quick and easy, she was able to live in one neighborhood while flirting with guys from the next town over. All of these activities would greatly influence her mood – just watching something romantic on TV or reading something exciting could change the options for interactions with other Sims. However, just like in real life, these moods can change rapidly and unexpectedly. One second my Sim was feeling flirtatious, the next she was playful, and then all of sudden she was a bit uncomfortable due to a joke falling flat. Sounds like a typical Saturday night.

I really like how the moods influence gameplay. They don’t just change the types of things my Sim wanted to do, they change the types of actions, too. When my Sims felt inspired, she cooked better and learned that skill faster. Of course, when she was in a bad mood, she messed up her cooking and ended up with a bad taste in her mouth. It adds a whole bunch of weird and wonderful things to the game and will certainly get players cracking up at all the strange things the new moodier Sims get up to.

Last Updated: August 20, 2014

Zoe Hawkins

Wielding my lasso of truth, I am the combination of nerd passion and grammar nazi. I delve into all things awesome and geek-tastic. You can read more of my words over at www.borngeek.co.za, or just follow me on all the social networks to get the true range of my sarcasm and wit.

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