They’ll Never Stop the Sims

I recently had a desire to play some Sims, but The Sims 3 was having problems. It took hours to load, and when it did it tended to crash after I only played it for a little while. I tried doing some troubleshooting based on tips I found online, but it didn’t seem to help. The game startup screen even says something about only playing with a few expansions at a time, which is weird because it would mean I’d likely lose some stuff if I did that. There was, however, a sale on The Sims 4, so I decided I might as well check it out. I saw some fan theories about how Sims 3 was purposely buggy to get you to buy the next installment, and while that may not have been intentional, it’s basically how it worked out. I really don’t like giving up on a Sims game, though, because I get somewhat attached to my characters. I also spend so much game time building them up, and it’s ultimately to little avail. I tend to use a combination of original characters and ones from other media I enjoy, with a focus on ones I can easily fit into different situations. I mean, I’d like to use Oz characters; but even though there are probably Scarecrow and Tin Woodman skins available, how would it make sense for them to eat, sleep, and use the toilet? Instead, I’ll come up with some convoluted backstory about how a family has ties to Erdrick from Dragon Quest, Cecil from Final Fantasy IV, and Glinda.

From what I’ve read, the main draw to Sims 4 is the variety of moods and interactions for Sims. Unlike Sims 3, it’s not an open world, which probably has a lot to do with why it loads so much more quickly. You’re not limited to a single lot and can explore the area around your active Sims’ home, but going to other parts of town requires losing control of the rest of the household while out. Time does still pass normally when you do this, however, unlike in the first two games when going downtown basically puts you in an alternate dimension. What’s noticeable about the neighborhoods is how small they are. I don’t just mean smaller than in Sims 3, but I think they might even be smaller than in Sims 1 with the Pets expansion installed.

I think it might be possible to move Sims between worlds, but I haven’t tried that yet. This limits the number of households you can create, as some of the lots are too expensive, and others are auto-populated. Yeah, I could move out some of the pre-made Sims, but I generally don’t like doing that. There are a few familiar Sims from earlier installments, including the infamous Goths. I do appreciate how easy it is to switch between households, which was a pain in Sims 3, likely because there was so much data for the game to keep track of. Since switching not only took a long time but also removed all current wishes, I tended to stick with one household for a long time, and I like to distribute my time a little more equally among families. While it can be fun to leave the Sims on their own occasionally, I generally prefer to have pretty tight control over how the story (such as it is) plays out. I haven’t figured out how much Sims you’re not playing can do in Sims 4. I never totally knew in Sims 3 either. While it gave the impression of mapping out where all Sims in the neighborhood were at all times, it also tended to bring other Sims to wherever your characters happened to be. Relationships definitely changed, and I think Sims you weren’t playing could even earn money.

One major thing that’s more convenient, as well as more fun and more realistic, is that Sims can talk to each other while they’re doing other things.

They already could to some extent, but you didn’t have a whole lot of control over it, and options were limited. In this installment, you can tell jokes or stories while eating or playing video games.
You have more choice over the appearance of Sims you make, but there are a lot fewer personality traits you can give them.

There’s also no option for favorite food, music, or color, not that those impacted gameplay much anyway. There are some interesting new jobs available for Sims, but a few of the traditional ones have disappeared. Actually, a few were originally parts of other career paths, but have become their own. You can be a secret agent or an astronaut, but not law enforcement or military. Build mode includes ready-made rooms that you can add to existing houses.

It doesn’t appear to give the option to automatically add a roof, though. I assume current and future expansion packs will provide more options, because what better way is there for Electronic Arts to make money than to make you pay for things you already had in earlier versions? Overall, I guess it feels smaller than Sims 3, but a bit cozier.

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