Game Reviews: The Sims 4, Part 1

My Ratings:

  • Gameplay:  7/10
  • Graphics:  8/10
  • Intuitiveness:  9/10
  • Content:  Pending.
  • Replay Value:  Pending.

Pros:

  • Very fast load and save time.
  • The new Create-A-Sim is very slick and easy to handle.
  • The tutorials are excellent.
  • Emotions definitely add an interesting new twist to the game.
  • Love way social interactions flow now.  Very slick.
  • Less time spend juggling needs, more time spend having fun.
  • MY SIM IS ADORABLE.

Cons:

  • The fast load time at the start of the game means that there are constant smaller load times throughout the game.
  • Lots have all been separated again, unlike the open world in Sims 3.
  • The interface is a bit childish for my tastes.

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Introduction:

Let me start off by establishing my geek cred here a little.  I am in no way a casual gamer.  I have been a medium-hardcore gamer since I first got my hand on a video game at the age of ten.  I cut my teeth on twitch FPS games like Doom, and epic RPGs like Betrayal At Krondor.  AGE TEST!  If you remember that game, I’m sorry to tell you that you are now old.  However, there is one semi-casual game that has always been my bane, and that is The Sims.  Take one guess if I’m ashamed of that.  Spoiler: NOPE!

I did discover The Sims fairly late on, though.  I haven’t played the original, but I have played The Sims 2, The Sims 3, and The Sims: Medieval extensively.  I wouldn’t consider myself to be a normal Simmer, though.  I don’t build great legacies spanning a dozen generations, and tell complex over-arching stories while manipulating eight sims at any one time.  I prefer to control one sim, turn off ageing, and guide her slowly towards perfection.  I’m very methodical and precise about it, and almost always start off playing the same character for a while.  In other words, I treat The Sims like a roleplaying game, with one strategic difference: my secondary goal is to WooHoo as many sexy sims as possible.

Look, everyone has to have a hobby, okay?  Don’t judge me.  Or do, I don’t care.  Moving along!

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Part 1: First Impressions

For reasons that even I don’t quite understand, I decided to indulge myself in the Collectors Edition of The Sims 4.  I think some part of me just desperately needed to know what an “Interactive USB Plumbob” actually does.  My very first impression was that the packaging was lovely, and I was impressed by the effort that they’d gone through to make the Collector’s Edition feel worthwhile.  My second impression was “Dear Jebus, TWO DVDs?” – what can I say?  It’s been a long time since I bought a game with discs.  Steam and Origin are my friends.

“Oh well,” I said.  “No time like the present!”  So, I plugged my Interactive USB Plumbob in, popped in the disc, and started ‘er up.  8 gigs later, I was finally loading the game.  Being an old hand at The Sims 3 (with all the expansions and custom content), I expected to have to wait forever for the game to load.  I started to get up to go make a coffee – but the game was loaded before I even got out of my chair.  Before I knew it, I was looking at the new Create-A-Sim system.

I was still a little bit stunned, and hadn’t even had a chance to psyche myself up to making a sim yet.  The loading was just too fast!  Ack!  Confusion!  Thankfully, there was a nice, discrete little tutorial on hand right away to help guide me through the process.  And all I can say is “Wow!”

Like most Sims fans, I’ve read a few of the pre-release advertising pieces, which all talk about how you can pinch and pull your sims features to make them look just right, but I couldn’t picture how that would work.  Well, now I know.  It works by pure magic.  Or possibly witchcraft.  Maybe a bit of both.  But however it works, it works and it works beautifully.  One of my gripes with both of the previous games was that it was impossible to make a pretty sim out of the box, but that is not so with The Sims 4.  For the first time, I managed to render my favourite character perfectly.  World, meet Abigail Sanford, the namesake from which I drew my pen name (Abigail Hawk).

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It was perfect, and it was so easy that it was fun.  Fun!  Create-A-Sim is never fun!  Well, it finally is now.  Hallelujah!  Everything has been streamlined into this intuitive, easy-to-use package that’s just fantastic.  Want to change her hair?  Click her hair, and it takes you right there.  Change the shape of her eyes?  Click ’em.  Change her blouse?  Click that!  So quick and easy.

The down side is that they have taken some of the customization out of your sim’s personality, but they’ve also added in a few interesting quirks.  You can’t pick your star sign, but you can adjust the height and volume of your boobs – and the way your character walks.  Create-A-Sim gives you eight extra walk animations in addition to the default, ranging from playful to snooty to lazy.  There’s no Lifetime Wish, but there are Aspirations that you can change at any time, and each of them gives you a unique trait.  I picked Master Chef for Abby, which gave her the Essence of Flavour trait which allows her to make higher quality food and drink.  For her traits, I picked Romantic (can’t be the ultimate Natasha without that!), Athletic (to burn off all the carbs she’s going to cook), and Self-Assured (because she looks damn fine, thank you very much!).  Then, it was on to the game.

Just like in previous games, I was then thrown into the Map view.  There, I was given another quick tutorial, and told to pick my house.  I decided to go for Willow Creek, and just plunked Abby down in one of the random starter houses in Willow Creek, to see what it was like.  

To start with, it was all pretty familiar.  Mailbox?  Check!  Fridge?  Check!   TV?  Check!  You know, the usual.  But then the tutorial kicks in, and it starts telling you about Emotions, and that’s where it gets interesting.  The new emotions system gives my sim moods, but unlike the old moodlet system, these ones actually have implications in the game.  The tutorial decided to show me how it works by randomly making Abby stink (thanks, game), which gave her the Grungy moodlet and run off to the shower, freaking out.  It wasn’t hugely different to the old games, though.  Not yet.

Once she was happy again, I let her wander around the house a bit to fill up her needs.  Then, I was delighted to discover they’ve added one tiny detail that makes a huge difference: sims now automatically wash their hands after using the toilet, and it doesn’t take forever!  Hallelujah!  Love it.  While I was busy cheering over that like an utter, OCD dork, Abby’s Mood bar suddenly went green, and she spawned a moodlet called Energized.  Apparently, this comes from being an Athletic sim.  There was a guy wandering past at the time, so she promptly rushed out to greet him and enthuse about exercise.  YEAH!  EXERCISE!

Well, she seemed to be in the mood for it, so I decided to send her to the gym.  Unfortunately, doing is a bit of a pain in the ass with the new system, because you have to zoom out to the map, fiddle around, then go through another loading screen.  Ew.  Do not like.  But once it loaded, I discovered quite a few more little things that I did like.  Primarily, the new socialization system!

No longer do Sims have to stand there rigidly and chat while achieving nothing!  Now, Abby can chat away happily with the guy in the treadmill next to hers without missing out on her precious exercising time.  Better yet, when I clicked another sim and selected the option to have her introduce herself, she didn’t ditch the conversation with the existing sim and run off to the new one.  No, she invited the new sim to join their conversation!  Soon, we had five sweaty little sims standing around laughing and enthusing about exercise together, all while building reputation with one another!  And when Abby decided to go off and actually exercise (you know, that thing we sometimes do.  Well, she sometimes does), the other sims stayed together and kept chatting long after she was gone.  They even invited another passing soul into the mix.

Sadly, it was at that time that I came to realise a depressing fact: there are no sexy man-sims in Willow Creek.  How can poor little Abby Natasha it up without sexy man-sims?!  It’s impossible!

To be continued…

At First Blush

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At First Blush

Dawn Fitzpatrick #1

A tale of childhood sweethearts separated by cruel fate, with a twist: One of the children is human. The other is a Nereidis, a member of a race of powerful super-humans who live in secret beneath the sea.

GENRE: SCIENCE FICTION ROMANCE
LENGTH: 224 PAGES (56,000 WORDS)
VARIANTS: SPICY or SWEET
RELEASE DATE: 1st of February 2016

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