Life can be very boring sometimes. But between those bouts of procrastination and embarking on the daily grind, there can be some magnificent moments. Whether they be fun, sad or crazy, that’s what life is all about. Because if you focus too much on the mundane, you’ll wonder where all your time went, and why you swapped your hair for a spare layer of fat on your waist. And that’s something that The Sims 4 captures perfectly.
So I made a Sim who loved to paint, hated company and got good vibes from his solitude. I then walled him into a room based on designs haphazardly recalled from that one time I watched Oldboy, gave him the bare necessities to survive and made him paint. And that’s all that he would do. He’d eat, poop, shower and sleep, and then he would paint. Day after day, night after night. Eventually his skill with the brush became so good, that he could charge a premium for all of his paintings, filling up his bank account. And then he’d paint some more. And hone his craft even further.
And while my
slave employee was dabbling in oil paints and abstract expressionism, a Sim that I had made of Zoe was living the high life, using that cash to create a mansion for herself, while using her downtime to play tricks on her neighbours. Sim Zoe now had the opportunity to do whatever she wanted. She could afford to hold a lavish dinner party. She could buy all the big screen TVs and turn her new gargantuan living room into a segmented cinema. Sim Zoe’s house was essentially one big experiment in terrible design for me then.
Which was a sharp contrast to the life of my own Sim. Sim D had a job. Sim D had responsibilities, would complain when he smelt funky and was quickly becoming a fat bastard thanks to his junk food habits and lack of exercise as he would rather use his downtime to insult random pedestrians. Sim D was caught up in the mundane side of life, having to pay bills, troll people online and watch his waistline expand like a sun going supernova.
And in another experiment, I filled a household with dead celebrities. Sim Heath Ledger was a committed actor who would get funked out if he couldn’t commit, while Sim Belushi ate everything he could lay his hands on in the kitchen. At least he didn’t snort the washing powder. Sim Winehouse was a drunk wreck who tried to be popular but her poor hygiene and abrasive personality made her the most hated Sim in the household, before I allowed the Grim Reaper to put her out of my, and everyone else’s, misery.
And that’s where The Sims just works astoundingly well, as a massive sandbox where there are no limits. It’s the Ayn Rand fairy tale of games, an experience where your hard work eventually pays off and you rise to the top. But to do so, you’re going to have to know your character inside and out. You’re going to have to monitor their needs, take advantage of bouts of manic inspiration and keep the anthropomorphic Lemmings in line.
You’ve got tools that can help create the most detailed of Sims, with a process that is far easier and intuitive than previous outings. Want to make a handsome square-jawed bastard who works out all day and is a hit with the ladies? Easy enough. Want to make a complete wreck of a Sim and watch him struggle in silence as weeps through each and every day, before dragging himself back home to sleep and repeat the process all over again? Yes, yes you can do that you wonderful twisted person you.
And these personalities now also make for far more expressive creations. A happy Sim can paint the most expressive of paintings, a tense Sim can bungle through a conversation and even walking into a beautiful house can make your Sim depressed over the fact that your decor skills have left it living in a hovel that isn’t even fit for a peasant.
And it’s that experimentation which makes the game so tremendously fun. The Sims are as detailed as ever, pouting, smiling and laughing like maniacs as their day goes on. The new personalities can be terrifyingly accurate, as a psychologist pal of mine tried the game out for a few minutes, examined my custom creations and asked me if I’m alright. The world is beautiful, and now, more customisable than ever.
When you’ve got a chance to play architect, you’ll find more than enough tools on offer. Rooms can be squeezed and dragged to your exact specifications, the decor chosen to match your specific taste and adjustments can be done on the fly. Mercifully, roofs can now also be designed with far more ease and nuance, something that previous games just never got the hang of. Right now, I’m still busy building stately Wayne Manor. Once my painting troll that I entombed in a basement, gets done painting a few masterpieces so that I can afford the upgrades to form the D-Cave.
There’s a lot of detail waiting to be fiddled with, from hanging paintings at just the right height, to placing an item at a certain spot that satisfies any lingering OCD desires. Sims can now also a multi-task, a godsend of a feature for players who want to set up a day of activities for their creations. Other improvements come in the form of a smartphone that you can use a hub for all activities related to your Sim, a camera that has been ripped off of its central tether from previous games and allowed to do far more roaming and and pooping can be even angrier than before. Hell yes, poop physics/emotions matter to me.
Of course, the game is not without a few faults. Or to be more specific, bugs. The game has an annoying habit of crashing at the most inopportune of times. The Sims occasionally come down with Alzheimers and forget where they’re going in their own homes, talk through walls or have conversations with people that aren’t exactly there. They’re not game-breaking bugs, and hopefully they can be patched up soon.
Series veterans are also going to realise that despite the various improvements, The Sims 4 is not in any way as robust as The Sims 3. The core game is magnificent and well designed for the most part, but there are a ton of missing extras, which will presumably be filled out with various DLC packs. For a few extra bucks of course. But for newcomers, this is a great game with which to jump in and experience the wide and crazy world of the Sims. There is still so much to do in The Sims 4. Hell, I’m probably going to find some new activities myself, even after a week of spending a few hours a day on this game.
Last Updated: September 12, 2014