Anticipating The Sims 4: Things to Get Excited About
It has been almost 14 years since the release of The Sims in the year 2000, and now The Sims 4 has been reconfirmed for a Fall 2014 release. The Sims franchise is one of the most successful video games of all time, despite it being largely a sandbox game. Many other games need clear objectives and good plot to sell, but in The Sims players get to create their own. Instead, gamers play to maintain their sims’ mood and fulfill their desires. It might seem like a weird concept to some, but for those who get into it, the game can be very addictive.
I am a sim-addict. I was in late primary school when I first brought home a copy of The Sims base game. It was an escape, a virtual world, closely resembling my own mundane suburban life, but in it I got to play adults and do all sorts of wacky things. I knew that I would never be a superstar or a witch, but my sims could. I even first learned how sex (an action called “play in bed” in The Sims) works from the game. And so the game stuck on. The expansion packs. Early puberty days spent playing The Sims 2. Another string of expansion packs. Graduating from high school, then acquiring a copy of The Sims 3. Spending money on yet another string of expansion packs. Seriously, what a vicious cycle.
The best part about The Sims 4 is probably the return of Maxis as developer of the game. Probably learning from the not-so-successful The Sims 3, Maxis has returned to develop this latest Sims installment, alongside The Sims Studio, who was the sole developer of The Sims 3. A huge number of Sims players believe that Maxis was the reason that The Sims and The Sims 2 were both extremely successful critically and commercially. Not forgetting EA’s notorious image to churn out the same, mediocre games repeatedly, it seems natural that collaborating with Maxis is the right path to take for The Sims 4.
Since its announcement, Maxis has revealed new features that are unique to The Sims 4, which will definitely satisfy those who were disappointed by the lack of innovation in The Sims 3. From creating the sims to their daily interactions, there is a major overhaul in the way that the game functions. Here I have listed reasons why players should stop spending money on more The Sims 3 expansion packs (they release one like every week? every day?) and instead get excited about these brand new features that The Sims 4 will contain.
More Detailed Create-A-Sim
Judging from the official gameplay trailer TheSims has released on YouTube, creating a sim in The Sims 4 has never been so easy. Players will be able to go zany with customizing their sims only by clicking and dragging on various parts of their virtual bodies, marking the end of those annoying Create-A-Sim (CAS) sliders.
I have always hated sliders. Maybe it is impatience, but I can never slide to precision, which makes it very frustrating when you are trying to give your sim the right eye size, or more often, boobs size. Though there are players out there who put a lot of effort in customizing the looks of their sims with the use of various mods, others usually just make do with in-game choices of facial features. With the new CAS, it makes it easier for players who cannot be bothered with mods, to also give each of their sims a distinctive look. So, thank you game developing gods for my sim townsfolk will no longer look like a horde of inbreds.
Another thing that should be noticed from The Sims 4 CAS reveal is the more stylized look of the sims. Though criticized by some for the more cartoonish approach, I am actually very happy with the new aesthetic. It gives the game a distinguishing look when compared to other modern games that try to be as realistic as possible. Sims in the first two games are very memorable for their unique appearances, while the ones in The Sims 3, although modeled to be more realistic, are somewhat forgettable. This proves to show that realism might not always be the best bet, and when it comes out, I believe that this new look will benefit The Sims 4 in setting itself apart from other games. Also, less intense graphics will probably do more good than harm when running the game.
Simplified Build Mode
Test drive of the base game, which involved some of Internet’s favorite simmers like TheCurtisParadisShow, unveiled the modified Build Mode. Similar to Create-A-Sim, the Build Mode upgrade in The Sims 4 favors ease over sophistication. To think about it, there seems to be an underlying theme in the way creation works in The Sims 4. Both CAS and Build Mode utilize the same method of pulling and pushing on objects, making the process far simpler and more natural. Though Build Mode in The Sims franchise has always been impressive, it has indeed always been quite difficult to use for inexperienced players.
There are no fancy curved walls or fences as of now, but judging from the NOW video that Curtis has released on his channel, players will be able to do all sorts of cool things in Build Mode like moving around an entire room instead of rebuilding it from scratch, stretching or shortening wall height and adding foundation even after a whole house has already been built. Adding roofs also become more effortless, as players can just pick a roof type, then drag and stretch it to the desired size. This new system will definitely encourage players to build more of their own houses, since its simplicity will help reduce the long hours players often have to spend in planning and building their sim houses.
Sims Have Feelings Too
A new feature that I have mixed feelings about is “emotions”. In The Sims 4, sims will now have a range of emotional states, affecting the flow of their daily lives. It will be working hand in hand with the trait system, which appeared in The Sims 3, and aims to make every sim day different from the other. Sounds pretty cool? Not really. By implementing emotions in The Sims 4, Maxis had gotten rid of the wants and fears system from the previous two games. Lifetime wants and aspirations are particularly important as they are what made the open-ended game more interesting. Players strive to help their sims achieve their goals, but with emotions it feels like there will be nothing for them to work for. I guess the goal in The Sims 4 would be to keep these virtual devils as happy as possible, but I am sure that fans would come up with cheats and mods to ensure that good emotions occurs. Until now, gamers can only speculate about the way emotions will be handled in gameplay, but I do believe that the wants system will be sorely missed.
Concerns aside, this feature does promise to feed the inner psychopath in each and every sim-addict. Holing up in the dark of their room, there are players whose sole reason for playing The Sims is to abuse the hell out of their sims by various physical harm such as fire, locking them in a room with no doors, or drowning them to their deaths. With emotions, players will be able to inflict the greatest of all sadism upon their sims: psychological abuse. Yes, sims can now die from extreme emotions, even happiness. If the thought of your sim rotting away from boredom does not make you all giddy inside, then you are probably not a sadist. Or a very boring person.
Animating, Socializing and Multi-Tasking
The Sims franchise has the most animation if compared to other games, going as far as approximately 12,000 for The Sims 2 base game when it first shipped in 2004. In The Sims 4, animation has been completely rewritten to allow new actions to take place such as group-socialization and multi-tasking.
Group socialization and multi-tasking will be possible in The Sims 4 due to the renewed system. Sims will be able to socialize in a group of up to 8 others, the maximum number of active sims in one lot, and at the same time do other things like eating, drinking, walking and watching TV. It is a a much needed update, since the actions in The Sims 3 comparably lacked innovations to The Sims 2. Imagine, now sims can be just as much a couch potato as their players, lounging and eating chips and ice cream in front of the TV.
Furthermore, the animation upgrade will also get rid of the annoying (but cute) foot tapping that sims do when something interrupts their path or action. The Sims 4‘s new animation makes it possible for sims to smoothly maneuver their way through situations like these. Even though it is actually quite funny to watch a sim’s frustration when trying to squeeze through small enclosed spaces with a big group, the foot tap has been present in all three Sims games, and it is about time that the developers get rid of it.
To close off, it is always nerve-wracking to anticipate the sequel of one’s favorite game franchise. When a gamer really enjoys the previous installment, they will most definitely have unrealistically high hopes for the upcoming one, though a lot of times they have to prepare themselves for disappointment. I enjoy and still play The Sims 3 until today, but I cannot say that I was completely satisfied with it at the time of its release. Having grown up obsessing over The Sims 2, the most successful and critically-acclaimed out of all, The Sims 3 felt lazily put together and even though EA tries to better it through a string of expansion packs, nothing can hide the fact that it is inferior to its predecessor. However, by watching trailers and reading test drive articles online, I believe that The Sims 4 will be able to reignite the success of The Sims franchise. So far, it does look promising with all its new innovations. Of course, we will never know how good it is until the games comes out, but until then, there is no harm in a little speculating and enthusiasm to fill the gap until Fall 2014 arrives.
What do you think? Leave a comment.