Ahh The Sims, a game that came back into my life when it launched a few weeks ago. It is a magical game full of character creation, home building and life living. My girlfriend loves it, me…I’m not so sure. It hasn’t pulled me in as much as The Sims 3 did.
That isn’t to say this is a bad game, just that I haven’t yet seen what makes this new edition stand out from The Sims 3. What is strange to say though is that I enjoyed the game most when watching others play it.
My first experience of watching someone else play was when Chris Thursten from PC Gamer asked for people to make themselves and upload them to the Sims online community. I dived into the Sims Creator (this was before I got the full game) and designed myself. I chose some aspirations and traits and an electic mix of clothes which largely matched my personal style. The aspirations are interesting, within each broad class such as Family or Fortune, there a sub-aspirations which let you narrow done what your friendly (or evil) little Sim wants to do with their life.
Soon enough, Chris had a number of British games journos (plus me) ready to go in a house he had already built. Twitch was booted up and I was able to watch Chris lead myself, and seven others, through their lives. There was a great community spirit within the Twitch chat as we discussed what each Sim should do with their day, why certain characters walked around in their underwear all of the time and what jobs they should get.
It was great fun and it let me see the majority of game mechanics. Easy Sim has a general moodlet (Happy, Determined, Energised and such like) which has an impact on how they behave around the house and at work. This moodlet can be influenced by performing tasks related to their aspirations and traits, for example a fitness freak will feel energised after completing a workout. Elsewhere, if someone interrupts you when you are in the bathroom you might feel embarassed, or if the bins are full they might be uncomfortable with their surroundings. It really helps you understand how your creations are feeling.
At one point during the Twitch streaming, Chris took a collection of Sims out to town. He picked up his mobile (every Sim has a mobile now which can be used for parties or finding jobs) and invited a few people to the local bar. Dancing and attempted jokes on a microphone ensued and it was all very amusing.
A few days later, once I had access to the full game, I booted it up and invited my girlfriend to play. She quickly set about recreating the two of us complete with required traits and clothing styles. This was followed by some home creation. She had some initial difficulties with the controls in the build mode, I had some trouble as well as the building controls have been tweaked slightly since The Sims 3. Apart from this slight trouble with rotating objects and moving the camera around, she picked up the building mode with ease.
Soon enough the shack had gone from a dull tiny hovel to an expanded, semi-luxurious home. While watching her play around, I was quite impressed with the ease of which you can now move walls around within your plot, just click and drag on them and you can make a lounge big enough for a grand party, or a cubicle in which to starve and kill your Sim. The option to plonk down a fully furnished room that has been ready designed caught my eye as useful for those who don’t want to spend hours and hours in build mode, but my girlfriend enjoyed choosing different furniture and appliances.
Once she had built her dream home on the tiny starting Sim budget, she got to work with living their lives. At this point I had taken myself off to play Destiny, but she was having a great time getting our Sim-selves into jobs and watching out for their needs and wants. At one point when I popped in, she took us to the park where we both ignored each other, one started playing chess and the other went for a jog. It was all classic Sim fun.
All in all, my girlfriend spent about seven hours straight on the game before pulling herself away and blaming me for introducing her to the game. I think she enjoyed it secretly.
And so, it was finally time for me to have my turn with the game. Having already seen two versions of myself find their way into the game, I took a creative approach to Sim design and made three wrestling tropes. El Lucha who walks around with a mask at all times and is fun loving, The Bad Guy who likes evil things and Paul Cona..a take on ultimate good guy John Cena. This time I quickly made a house complete with several pieces of gym equipment and not much else and let my wrestling chums get on with things.
I set The Bad Guy outside to insult strangers, John to the local bar to mingle and have a good time and El Lucha to work out with the gym equipment. It was fine…but having watched two others play the game for quite a while already, I didn’t know what else I wanted to do. If I am honest, it all felt a bit similar to The Sims 3.
You know by now what to expect with a game of The Sims, and the new moodlets, traits and building options (though it lacks pools) might be enough to be of interest to you. It certainly has my girlfriend enticed, but I’m not as convinced.
The Verdict – On target
the Girlfriend’s Verdict – Headshot
Platforms Available/Reviewed – PC
Review copy supplied by EA’s internal PR team. Please read this post for more on our scoring system.