6 Reasons Why "The Sims 4" Was a Major Disappointment
Months of waiting for The Sims 4
My Sims obsession began with the first game and slowly yet consistently grew with each new installment. I gleefully collected expansion packs and created big neighborhoods with complicated social hierarchies that really only made sense to me. I'm afraid to even think about how many hours, days, and weeks I've poured into my Sims. Each new game seemed to get better and better, and I had the same expectations for The Sims 4.
I watched the official trailers and interviews with some of the programmers, downloaded the Create-A-Sim demo, and pre-ordered the deluxe edition in anticipation. I sank about seventy dollars into the game and all the special add-ons. Sure, that's more than I make in a day at my current job, but Sims has always been my favorite game, and there are so many ways to play. I was under the impression that it was actually a very cost-effective investment. However, as I am writing this, I've probably only put four or five hours into the game. Perhaps the excitement is partially to blame, but I found the game fairly tedious and missing most of the features that had made the previous games so enjoyable.
A very thorough review on Gamespot
- The Sims 4 Review - GameSpot
The Sims 4 is beautiful and charming, but its constricted structure makes it disappointingly limited.
Critics and players gave the game lackluster reviews at best
Because the game was not released to critics before the launch, there were no reviews available at the time that I bought the game. This was actually a pretty smart move on EA's part, as the game did not receive much praise from the critics. In my research, most of the critic reviews I found were mixed and gave the game a mediocre score on average. However, the critics were much gentler than the players, as the players just tore the game apart, such as giving the game a score of zero and adding comments like, "This game was a total waste of money, and I regret buying it." It's impossible to be more direct than that.
As I'm not super into video games, nor am I familiar with how they are created and what makes them appealing on a higher level, I am inclined to put more stock in what the general players have to say. While they might not focus on such aspects as the animation or the details of the game play, the Average Joe will certainly answer the question, "Is this game fun?" While video games can certainly be praised for their artistic value or potential for cultural impact, I am most concerned with whether or not I will be entertained as I play the game. Unfortunately, it appears as if most players are in agreement: The Sims 4 is really not that much fun to play, and it's certainly not seventy dollars worth of fun. My lack of enjoyment stemmed from what I felt were six discrete shortcomings.
1. The functionality of emotions is ridiculous
One of the selling points of The Sims 4 is that Sims now have emotional states. How you control your Sims influences their emotions, and, consequently, their emotions govern the actions that are available to you. For instance, if a Sim is depressed, he or she might be unable to work on his or her comedy routine until in a better mood. Sounds pretty lifelike, right?
Wrong. While the idea itself is pretty cool, the Sims swing back and forth from totally opposite moods in what is an astoundingly short amount of time. I mean, emotionally sensitive people certainly exist in real life, but I found it a bit silly that my Sim could become incredibly happy after receiving a hug from a friend and then become close to suicidal five minutes later when she burnt her mac and cheese. It's not particularly realistic, and it's more exhausting than fun to have to prevent your Sims from spiraling into an incoherent rage because the toilet gets clogged.
Emotions as a whole, despite what the promos stated, wasn't an aspect that was unique to The Sims 4. In The Sims 3, Sims would get little moodlets based on both major and minor events that happened, and the amount of influence that these moodlets had was correlated with essentially how big of a deal the event was. So, if a Sim had a baby, he or she would receive a sixty-point mood boost for three days. If a Sim was insulted by another Sim, he or she would have a ten-point mood decrease for a few hours. These numbers themselves are arbitrary, but you get the point. The way that emotions worked in The Sims 3 was much more true to life, more fun, and easier to manage.
One of The Sims 4 promo photos showing how hip and cool the new Sims are
2. No open world
EA boasted that The Sims 4 would run perfectly fine on mid-range CPUs. What they didn't mention was that they would accomplish that by eliminating the open world that made The Sims 3 so exciting. Sure, the loading screens come and go pretty quickly, but it definitely disrupts the feel of the game. Visiting your neighbor's house used to be a seamless process, but it's now broken up with loading screens. This also means that you can't control several Sims at the same time if they are not on the same lot.
And while Sims from different neighborhoods can visit and interact with one another, the worlds are incredibly small. There are fewer public venues to visit, and exploring is near impossible. Although the game might run more smoothly and crash less often, the lack of an open world greatly limits how much you can control and customize your Sims' neighborhoods.
A more favorable review from IGN
- The Sims 4 Review - IGN
Kallie Plagge provides a comprehensive review of the game that praises its few highlights while still mentioning the shortcomings.
3. Fewer traits
In The Sims 3, each adult Sim would have five available slots for character traits. This was a huge stride in making Sims as unique and customizable as possible. However, in the newest installment of the franchise, each adult Sim gets three selected traits and a "bonus" trait that comes with your Sim's particular aspiration. Although the new pull and drag tool in Create-A-Sim was one of the big selling points of the game, the player cannot make the Sims' personalities as dynamic, which, to me, is the most interesting aspect of my Sims. I don't particularly care if I can make my Sim have particular physical proportions; rather, I want my Sims to interact with their world in a manner that fits whatever personality I decide to give them.
Watch the first official trailer for the game
4. Fewer features than previous Sim games
The Sims 4 received a lot of flack from fans when it became obvious that several features that were present in previous installments were nowhere to be found in the new game. At it's launch, the game was missing cars, swimming pools, ghosts, and several career paths, prompting players to voice their concern about EA's intent. Would these features become available for download later for a fee? As if seventy dollars wasn't enough for such a mediocre game. As of now, EA has made many of those missing features available free of charge.
The biggest oversight, in my opinion, is neglecting to add the toddler life stage, a feature that first made its appearance in The Sims 2. In the new game, the Sims grow right from little babies to school-age children with no steps in between. Now, the toddler life stage was always my least favorite, because it always seemed the most stressful. The child still had to receive constant care, and there was pressure to get him or her to develop rudimentary skills and to learn to walk, talk, and use the potty so he or she could grow into a well-rounded, successful Sim. That being said, it was always super satisfying to me when my toddlers grew into children with the foundations to several skills. Part of what made the previous games so enjoyable was the small challenges. By taking out the toddler life stage, the game is less challenging and therefore less rewarding.
The Sims 4 build feature
What is your favorite aspect of the Sims?
5. The benefits were blown out of proportion in the advertisements
The advertisements for The Sims 4 stated that the Sims are now smarter than ever. Along with the emotions feature, one of the selling points was that the Sims could now multitask. I mean, sure, it's handy to be able to eat a sandwich and watch TV while chatting with your significant other, but you don't really save that much time, and it is more difficult to manage. It's a nice addition, but it was given way too much attention and hype. Having the ability to make Mortimer Goth check his email on his phone as he takes his morning poop isn't really what I would call an innovative new feature.
The animation has greatly changed since the first game
The Sims 4 certainly gets a poor review from me
6. It's too whimsical and cartoon-like
This isn't really that big of a complaint, as it's more of a personal preference. While I like the goofy touches of the previous games, The Sims 4 took it a bit too far. While The Sims 3 had animation that looked more true-to-life as far as physical features and object detail, all the Sims in the new installment are very cartoon-like. The animation is colorful and pretty, but I hate that the game feels like it's geared specifically towards younger folks, as it's a game that can, and should be, appealing to a wide age demographic.
Also, with every new emotion or action, it seems there's a cute little sound effect that goes along with it. Listening to all the beeps and whistles and cheeky melodies gets tiring after awhile, especially if I'm doing my best to get lost in the game. If I'm trying to focus on getting Betty to hone her computer programming skills, I don't need to be called away with a sound effect when her husband has a conniption fit over the poor reception on the TV.
Better luck next time, EA Games
If you haven't already gone out and purchased The Sims 4, save yourself the disappointment, and spend your hard-earned money on something with the potential to make you happy. Stick with The Sims 3, and you'll have a much more satisfying video game experience. While it will probably be close to a decade before EA releases another Sims game, I can't say I feel any sort of excitement for it, and I'll never make the same mistake again of buying the game before reading the reviews.