The Sims 4 Review

Dan Webb

All my life I’ve wanted to be an astronaut… floating in space, boldly going where no man has gone before; it sounds like utter bliss. I’m so glad that a game like The Sims 4 has come around that allowed me to achieve all of my lifelong goals then. Orrrrr, what I really meant to say is, I really like being an evil shit and having complete control over someone else’s life, bending to them to my own will, forcing them to do things they wouldn’t do on their own. Oh, and I like making houses. Houses are pretty.

So yeah, The Sims 4 is my kind of game. Also, I wanted to be a lawyer growing up. What kind of a narcissistic little prick would want to be a lawyer when they want to grow up!? Anyway! Three years after the PC release of The Sims 4, Maxis’ virtual life-simulator has finally made its way onto current-gen consoles and well, as far as ports go, Blind Squirrel's effort is not great.

But first, let’s talk about The Sims 4 and how delightful it is. It’s delightful, folks… well, if that’s your kind of thing, and anything where I can build stuff and wield my unrelenting power over my poor vessels, I’m more than okay with. The Sims 4 is head and shoulders above The Sims 3 – well, what I remember of it anyway. There are more tools, more options and more things to do. You can stay in your cosy little neighbourhood and run your little ship if you so wish, or you can venture out into other surrounding districts, visit museums, parks, friends, gyms, bars, clubs, libraries and so on.

The Sims 4 also introduces emotive states for your Sims, so if a particular Sim is really motivated by creativity, doing something creative will then give them a boost in mood, which can help with other aspects. There’s a load of different moods too, both positive and negative, all of which affect the game and some of the options your Sim has available to them. Walking in on someone on the toilet, for instance, will cause your Sim to become embarrassed and they can then tell self-deprecating jokes and the like. Get flirty and you can give a rose to someone. Become confident and you can tell outrageous stories. You get the idea. It’s a good little system, and one that adds a little something extra to the game.

There’s not much else to say, in all honesty. You manage your Sims' needs, you can get jobs and be career driven, you can become a family man and raise kids – something that I found weirdly engaging… maybe my loins are trying to tell me something – or you can literally lie – or lay, baddumtsh! – around and do bugger all. The choice is yours. Build a house, use templates, whatever. That’s the beauty of The Sims series: you get full, unadulterated control.

Going back to the whole parenting thing I just mentioned, honestly, my experience with my in-game daughter was a surreal one. Usually in games you create an adult character and roll with them, but to actually create something in-game, teach it to walk, teach it to use the potty, teach it to talk, have to feed it and then see it grow up with a ton of traits and skills, it’s a very unique experience in The Sims 4, one that shouldn’t be overlooked. I guess that’s the beauty of life, and the fact that The Sims manages to capture that is pretty special. Anyway, let’s get negative for a second… well, a lot of seconds.

By now we’ve established that The Sims 4 is pretty great, in fact, my only pet peeve with the game is the fact that you have to buy all of the previously released DLC from the PC version. This isn’t a greatest hits kind of thing, which considering the game is three years old, it bloody well should be. EA is not having a good time at present and are coming off like money-making, 'fuck the consumer' shills, and this kind of thing doesn't help.

From a technical perspective though, The Sims 4 is all over the place. On the original vanilla consoles, the game struggles more often than not. The frame-rate can be a little all over the place. On the newer powerhouses though, for the most part The Sims 4 performs admirably, with only infrequent bursts of slowdown.

The real issue with The Sims 4, though, is that the UI and the control aspect can be a bloody mess, and on top of that, super unresponsive. On many occasions the cursor, or whatever I selected just seemed to disappear, then there are times you have to click on things multiple times. Easily the most frustrating aspect of The Sims 4 is its control method.

Yes, there’s a quick button to jump around the UI that runs around the edge of the screen and surrounds the action, but to get to something like the needs of the character can often be a good 5 or 6 different controller inputs. It doesn’t feel like it’s been optimised for consoles at all. At. All! We understand it’s a complex game with lots of inputs and different mechanics going on, but there surely must be a better system. For instance, I don’t remember The Sims 3 being this bad. In fact, I reviewed it and not once complained about the control system!

On top of all that, The Sims 4 on console can be a bit of a buggy affair. Sims can, out of nowhere, lose all their queued up commands, despite being fully green across the board when it comes to their needs. Sims can have old actions bugged on the screen for ages, with the only fix being to travel elsewhere to refresh their queued actions. Sims often walk through walls. They can often just straight up ignore you, which can be a huge frustration. And this is a non-exhaustive list as well. I reckon I could probably have spent the entire review listing the bugs, but alas, nobody wants that. Just know that it’s a buggy mess.

That said, I still had a huge amount of fun with The Sims 4. You could say I’ve become mildly addicted. Even with the game’s huge qualms and drawbacks, there’s still a great Sims game in there somewhere. When you’re not fighting with the controls or the bugs of the system there is genuinely a lot of good times to be had. The Sims 4 on consoles is a struggle, but one that’s worth putting the time into if that kind of the thing is your bag. And oh my, is it a struggle! Not lumping the old DLC in there as well seems like a nickel and dime move too! The Sims 4 could have been so much better. So, so, so much better!

The Sims 4

If you can get past all the issues that The Sims 4 has on consoles, it’s a ton of fun. That’s a pretty big 'if' though!

Form widget
68%
Audio
70%

Bloody Simlish, it’ll drive you mad! Mad, I tells thee!

Visuals
80%

The Sims knows its art-style and doesn’t stray from it. Good! Because we bloody love it!

Playability
50%

Oh boy, it’s a bit of a mess. It’s hard to navigate and can take multiple flicks of the stick to get where you want. Plus, it’s buggy. Very, very buggy. It’s not always a battle, and when it isn’t – or you get used to it (that took me 30 hours, ha!) – it’s bloody fun.

Delivery
70%

It’s a bit shit there’s already £45’s worth of DLC up on the store for it. There is a lot of content in the game already, and you can easily play it for hundreds of hours without it, but you can’t help but feel a little aggrieved. Otherwise, its decent.

Achievements
50%

They're bloody bland! Basically, max out every single skill and career and do 26 generations in one household (and a few more)! Yes, I said 26... Grindy!!

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