Tag Archives: The Sims

Skyrim Hearthfire, and Thoughts on Skyrim Remastered

I’ve been mildly laid up the past week; nothing serious but the sort of thing that excuses extensive video game playing. I decided to revisit Skyrim (again), but got a little bored of the original, without any DLC’s. I lucked out and found Skyrim: Hearthfire for only $5, and decided to give it a go. I’m super late to the party, since it came out four years ago, but I’m in love with it. The DLC basically adds on elements that make Skyrim like one of my other favorite franchises: The Sims.

 

Hearthfire doesn’t add too much to the game by way of quests or extra locations for quests. Instead, it adds the option to homestead and build your own large house, adopt children, and adds items and activities like baking. It sounds a bit boring when put like that, but considering the base game includes the option to buy houses in the cities, the addition to build your own mostly customizable home to store things and create items in is fantastic. Each homestead allows for three wings to be added to the home, and each includes three different options. There are three different homesteads to build, so there is 27 options for how to build your home, which is a huge step up from the city houses. You can include an enchanting tower, or an alchemy lab, a storage room or a library, for example. The options are fantastic, and give so many options for storage that I fear I’ll turn into a video game hoarder just to fill them all up. The addition of things like a carriage that can get you to any settlement in Skyrim is also a fantastic bonus, and you can choose to make your home cozy by moving any adopted children (up to 2) and your spouse there if you choose.

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A completed homestead

Personally I’ve had a lot of fun building the homes from scratch and choosing how I’ll furnish each of them. There are limitations to the game, like the fact that the three houses have the same design and differ only in what wings you add to them, but they are all in very different locations with varied weather, views, and random bandits/giants that show up on occasion to wreak havoc. Considering I only spent $5 for these add-ons, I’m incredibly happy with the result. It’s changed the way I’m playing the game, which after revisting the game several times since its release 5 years ago is all I can ask for.

Skyrim Remastered

While passing a GameStop the other day, I saw a huge banner advertising Skyrim: Remastered coming out next month. I was at first confused and excited, and then definitely let down for a few reasons. I love Skyrim, and the idea of a remastered seems simultaneously cool and redundant. Without being remastered, Skyrim is already a gorgeous (albeit bug-filled) game, and while updating the graphics could make it even more breathtakingly so, I’d much rather know that Bethesda is working on a new project.

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Elder Scrolls Online was, unfortunately, more of a letdown that most of us hoped. I know that I maybe tried it for a week and then actually went back to playing Skyrim. Since then I’ve been hoping that soon they’ll release a new game in the Elder Scrolls series, but so far there’s only rumors and speculation. The release of a Skyrim: Remastered makes me pause, wondering what that will mean for the next installment. I appreciate the need and desire to release Skyrim for the newest consoles, but I almost think the better move would have been releasing the next game on just the newest consoles. That move alone would almost make me consider finally upgrading my PS3 to a PS4. Instead, I see news of an updated Skyrim, and realize that I could just spend the money on the other DLCs and be happy with that and my good ol’ PS3. I guess we’ll just have to keep waiting on a new installment, and unfortunately it looks like we could be waiting a while.

Sims 4: Get Together, First Impressions

After being a little disappointed with the first Sims 4 expansion pack, I was both excited and apprehensive to actually try the most recent one, The Sims 4: Get Together. Normally I would consider this a review but this Sims 4 Expansion was actually so jam-packed with new things that I feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface!

The Good, basically Great:

This expansion actually added a full town, with beautiful residential lots but also a plethora of public spaces, from beaches and cliff side hangouts to cafes and nightclubs to a massive maze and historical, haunted mansion. There are so many new places to explore, and besides having so much to do, everything is beautiful. The new town is huge and is based in Bavarian style, which with the new gorgeous graphics of the Sims 4 looks fantastic. There’s plenty to wander and do around the town itself, and I actually found myself wanting to because it’s so beautiful.

The main purpose of Get Together is to also introduce new ways to hang out with other Sims, and so Clubs have been introduced, which include a lot of varying features. You can customize clubs to only allow members with certain traits, you can encourage and ban certain interactions and activities, have specific interactions with fellow club members, and organize hangouts at a specified club hangout. You also accrue club perk points to use to buy perks that improve your club in lots of different ways. Personally I found this to be a great way to make friends in the Sims, and get them around people with similar interests and traits. You can join or create your own club easily and get people in it without meeting them first.

This expansion came with a lot of different Create-a-Sim items, from wardrobe/features to a few new traits (it also came with a few more skills to be mastered by your Sims). I got the expansion around the same time The Sims released a patch that allows players to customize gender expression in Sims, opening up all features (including walking style, voice, body type, and how they interact with gender specific items in-game) to every Sim, feminine or masculine. The combination of the two to my game opened up my Sims creation to feel so infinite that I found myself having to resist creating new Sims all the time.

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Windenburg, the new town.

The Meh:

Besides feeling overwhelmed with how much I had to explore, I was mostly disappointed with how the club feature can overwhelm gameplay. Similar to how the introduction of dates can lead to every Sim you meet calling and asking your Sim out, the club feature can lead to clubs trying to meet all the time. Every time I made a friend/enemy/new romantic partner, too, other friends and club members would text or call with a message responding to the new relationship. While trying to build up careers or skills, it can feel like a bit of an overload of interactions.

The constant bombardment of social calls aside, the club feature worked best for me when I used cheats to avoid taking care of my Sims’ needs. When I first loaded up the game I decided to turn off my Sims’ needs so that I could explore every feature, and when I then tried to play a different game normally I found myself completely neglecting clubs while trying to take care of a family of Sims with children and careers versus just a single Sim doing whatever I wanted. Perhaps that was just me adjusting, but I’ve always found that the social aspect of the Sims can be the hardest part to balance with everything else you’re doing in your game. Throughout the whole series, that’s been one of the drawbacks for me, so seeing it compounded in this game with the addition of clubs isn’t much of a surprise.

Overall:

I was really pleased with this latest expansion of the Sims, which was refreshing after how let down I felt by the last one and the base game in general. This expansion felt a bit more planned out and like they spent more time adding features to enrich the game. If anything else, this game expansion is worth it for the new town and being able to explore everything it has to offer.

Sims 4 Get to Work Review

I’ve held off on writing a review of the Sims 4 expansion Get to Work for a few reasons. I needed to give myself some time to really try out all of the features, and also time to decide whether I hated it, loved it, or was really “meh” with it.

I’ve talked about it before, but one of the main reasons I like The Sims is for use as brainstorming for writing. So when I saw that I could actually simulate being a detective in Get to Work, I got excited since I’ve been working on a mystery.

As far as added features go, besides adding additional character creator pieces-parts and household items, the expansion adds extra jobs and the ability to own a business. The three professions are Detective, Doctor, and Scientist, and the businesses you can run are retail-oriented, so that you can sell goods that your Sim creates.

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For the Love of Sims

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.