After five years it’s time for another outing for EA’s people simulator. Despite the scrubbed up visuals and user interface tweaks, on the surface at least, The Sims 4 still looks very similar to that which gone before.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing and should provide some comfort easing series veterans into the new game mechanics.
For this latest entry the emphasis is on character’s moods, with their interactions, experiences and desires changing the way they behave. Kind of like real people.
As with its predecessors, The Sims 4 provides players with fun on three levels.
The first is the character building aspect, whereby you sculpt - physically and psychologically - the family members that you want to populate your world.
You can model your Sims after yourself, your own family or someone you know. You can even make a deliberately dysfunctional family just to watch the fireworks.
The second is the architectural/interior design aspect. The Sims 4 gives players a comprehensive set of tools to create intricate and beautiful-looking houses. With enough in-game cash a cheaply purchased run-down shack can be remodelled into a virtual palace.
But it doesn’t stop there. Players can choose from a catalogue of wall and surface finishes that puts Bunnings to shame. Then there’s a kitchen to be designed, bedrooms and lounges to be furnished. And what about ornaments, house plants and entertainment systems?
And the third is the whole social/life simulation. This can be as simple as just watching your Sims interact with one another whilst you add creature comforts according to their desire, or manipulating situations to improve or hinder your Sims’ lives.
What The Sims 4 actually is, beyond the creation aspect, is a story simulator. It’s like a soap opera in your computer, with you as the director. As you watch intimate relationships develop and rivalries form, you find yourself getting invested in your little Sims lives.
All the Sims in your world can interact with one another, be it with a member of the family you created or one provided with the game. They can visit each other in their houses, arrange parties or met up at one of the social locations in the neighbourhood.
The game ships with two worlds Willow Creek and Oasis Springs. Both have a number of vacant lots and empty houses for your Sims to buy. There are also a number of properties occupied by your neighbours. Sims can also travel to the local library, the museum, a nightclub, the gym or the park.
The social aspect of the game doesn’t end with in-game antics of the Sims, themselves. All your characters, families and properties can be uploaded and made available to other players, giving your creations a life beyond just your game. You can also download other player’s characters and properties into your worlds.
The graphics are superb, with characters and objects meticulously detailed. There’s also some beautiful real-time lighting and shadows in the game. Every window and every light making a difference to the interiors.
I wasn’t overly looking forward to playing The Sims again, but after an hour or so I became captivated by the lives of my Sims. This is a surprisingly fun game.
With limitless interactions, career options and lifestyles, The Sims 4 is truly a game with a million stories.
The Sims 4 is out now on Windows PC.