The Sims is a series of life simulating games that allow you to fully control the lives of your Sims, whether for good, evil, mediocrity, or fun. You can build and decorate their house, create the Sims’ looks and personality, and either help them succeed in life or watch them struggle and fail. It’s possible to make generations, and watch the whole town change and grow.
I love The Sims. I don’t know what is so appealing about simulating another person living life, but it’s a lot of fun. Sometimes I just want to play someone working their way up a career, sometimes I want to create the perfect love story, and sometimes I want to create the coolest villain ever. I currently have a game going of a Villainess who lives in an all blue decorated house and loves to be snobby and evil. It’s the most fun I’ve had with the game in a while, but the coolest thing I use the Sims for is character creation for writing.
I don’t know why, but being able to use the character creator and simulate the character I’m writing helps me brainstorm. It helps me work out the kinks, and also come up with realistic character traits, especially quirky ones. In order to avoid the “Mary Sue” trap of having a perfect character always, the Sims gives me ideas for how to make them just a little imperfect but still amazing. Maybe they are very brave and confident, but just a little bit of a couch potato? Or vain? It’s easy when writing to want to create the Perfect Character who does Everything Perfectly and is also The Chosen One in the Universe because they’re just Wonderful and Perfect. But character creation on the Sims has always helped me dial that down a bit. Plus maybe they passed out that one time because they hadn’t gotten enough sleep, and wasn’t that embarrassing? Or maybe they caught their significant other flirting with someone else, and I should consider making their relationship not so perfect in my writing?
When The Sims 4 came out, I was super excited to play it. It seemed like the developers were coming up with even more ways to make the game realistic. It makes it easier to have group conversations and activities, and Sims now have emotions that have an effect on everything they do. As someone who not only plays the game for fun but also uses it as a creative catalyst, it seemed like a dream come true.
For some reason though, I’m not 100% happy with the results. Sure, the character creator is amazing and the Sims have never looked better (thank you more realistic hairstyles!) But the game lost the ability to completely customize everything, which was one of the best parts of the Sims 3. The ability to customize every color and pattern and every inch of the game was fantastic. Now, my characters seem to always have one of the same three hair colors that I like. There’s not enough variety, even though there are more options of styles than before. It feels oddly limiting; lots of different styles to choose from, but maybe only 5-8 colors for those styles.
Unlike other Sims fans, I wasn’t that upset about not having pools or ghosts right off the bat. They never featured too prominently in how I played. But there were aspects like not having the decorating tool that made me miss playing the Sims 3. I also miss the way that the town changed so much in the Sims 3; you were able to set it to Story Progression and the entire town would change as people moved in and out, got married, had kids, died, etc. The Sims 4 progresses some, but not as much. The lack of memories bums me out too, but that didn’t come with the base game of the Sims 3 like it did with the Sims 2, so that’s not too huge of a loss. It may be coming in an expansion.
I’ve wondered though whether or not I also miss the features of the expansion packs I had with the other games or if this one does fall a little flat. A base game will obviously not have as many features as one flushed out with expansions, but I still just feel some like it’s missing some things that made the others so much fun. While it is awesome and amazing the little things that they improved, like being able to drink coffee while also eating breakfast, that make the game more realistic, the way that the emotions and everything else play out just don’t feel the same to me as past games. Still, even with that feeling I find myself playing it a lot, and it does help with character creation. Maybe once I do have the time to add on the two expansions that have been released I’ll find myself loving it even more. For now, though, I’d say it’s 3.5/5 stars for me.