First impression of The Sims 4
Honestly. My first impression of The Sims 4 after two hours of play was "Wow. It's even worse than I thought".
I wasn't going to buy the game even close full price, because I thought it wasn't for me. I really disliked the way the game looks and that it lacked so much basic content. There wasn't anything new and if you knew the sims already, making them look even more stupid when walking and talking didn't bring any new value to the game. They may seem funny for the first two hours of playing if you're under the age of 12, but then it looses it. Then it's only annoying unless you are able to ignore it.
About the graphics... The Sims 3 was easily pictoresque and I've seen some pics that first looked to me like they were real photos. I don't think I need to say more. You either like the style or you don't. I think I'll get used to it. I was afraid before any pictures of The Sims 4 was released, that EA would go to this direction with the game design, because we were given hints in The Sims 3, like in the Bohemian Garden set's flowers from the Store. A very good improvement is that the graphics seem more coherent now compared to The Sims 3. In The Sims 3 you had items with graphics from as high as my favourites from Le Cirque Esprit set, to some unbelievable pixel mush, like some necklaces and clothes. Not to mention a few horrible mistakes that should have never been published, like the Katy Perry Sweet Treats Fountain. (It's a disaster)
With this design The Sims lost some of its uniquenes and became more like any other game. I think it's sad because there are no other sandbox simulation games of this size. The Sims 4 and especially the hidden lots remind me of my other favourite game at the same time as The Sims 2, Rayman 3 Hoodlum Havoc. And yes, it was published in 2003. The Sims 4 graphics were simplified for better performance, and that's why they made the neighbourhoods as they are now, stagnant pictures, like the one shown above. You can't access there even with the camera. That's a big change after The Sims 3 and it isn't the way other big game series are going, they're growing bigger and bigger with more detail and realisticness. I guess the difference between The Sims series and others is that this is played by girls and women, who are not expected to have computers powerful enough to run heavy games. I can't come up with a better explanation. But we do, at least we who wanted to play The Sims 3.
Because of this downshifting the collectibles appear in certain stationary objects, like logs and rock piles, just like in The Sims Medieval. Even the ponds are unmovable objects. I liked the new style of the town in The Sims Medieval, but only because it was a spin off. It wasn't the main game. The collectibles were so amazing in The Sims 3, appearing around the world where and when unexpectedly, but it's all gone in The Sims 4. So no ponds or any other lowering or raising of terrain, and not a word of them coming back, only rumours. The pools and basements were at least added in patches.
I actually waited half a day before opening the game for the first time, because I wanted to share the moment with my sister. We shared The Sims 2 back then and that game meant so much for both of us, and I kinda hoped to go back there with the new Sims 4. I waited for the intro video and music and seeing the sims, but they never came. Höh*, I'd say. There also wasn't those funny loading texts, like "Adding hidden agendas" or "Preparing a tasty grilled cheese sandwitch", only "hints". The hints irritated me in The Sims 3, possibly mostly because of the translations to Finnish. In this game game there's one that already pushes my buttons, about whims that are first talked about in plural and then singular form in the same sentence. There were lots of misspellings in The Sims 3, please no more.
(* A word I use when something disappointing happens. A little like Homer's "D'ough!" but in a calmer way )
But what I didn't first realize after hating the fact that I have to have Origin on the background all the time was that there's no Launcher anymore! Hooray! Thank you EA, you do listen to us sometimes!
So after loading the game I just pressed play. It went straight to Create a Sim. I had tried the CAS Demo before and didn't like it, but I thought it was just unfinished and would be better in the actual game. It wasn't, but I think I can live with it. (I noticed you could do dangerously anorectic sims with it.) What I'm still missing, as a person more than less from the average height, is the ability to adjust the sims' heights! The slider mods in The Sims 3 were working almost perfectly, so why couldn't they make it work with a new game? I want shorter sims!
This brings us to two big problems I have with the sims int The Sims 4. We have only two life states that differ from each other by their looks, children and everyone else. In the streets you see only children and adults walking. Teens look like young adults, young adults look like adults and so does the elders, the only difference being there is the posture and maybe gray hair. No toddlers at all and only rumours about them coming back. I didn't really get the idea of young adults and adults in the first place, because there wasn't so much difference in The Sims 3 between them, and because of that, at least teens and elders should be able to tell apart from adults. I don't even care to try playing with them now.
In The Sims 3 I wished the teens to be just a little shorter, adults to look a bit older and the elders to look much older, with the ability to adjust the age with some extra sliders. In The Sims Medieval this was done in some way with a slider that added wrinkles and shades to sims' faces. The wrinkles in The Sims 3 you could add to the elderly sims' faces were just not right, they looked more like someone painted them on. This was done rather nicely in The Sims Medieval.
So the toddlers are gone, and I know that's a huge thing to simmers who want to play family life. I don't personally care that much, because I usually build and have only one sim who tries to be perfect in everything, but I too think it's a big setback. Now we only have babies that do nothing, and straight from the grib jumps a kid when they age up.
***Here was supposed to be a picture, but Wix messed up again***
We had some fun with the sims' voices and their descriptions. I red afterwards, that EA has gone a mile forward with gender sensitivity, with no gender boundaries, and that's actually very cool and suitable for the audience. Sims are by default "masculine" or "feminine", so this new feature doesn't mix up genders in game completely by default, but you can now choose any clothes, voice, hair and so on for your sim. You can even choose if they can pee standing! They could've gone a little further though. I think the Sim way would have been the ability to make hermafrodites, because sims can still only become pregnant or impregnate. I wouldn't mind if it was both as default :D This means women impregnating men and same-sex conceived babies. This is why I like fantasy, everything is possible. I think it's also an important message that you can remove the fertility from sims. I don't think removing fertility deepens that much the game for majority of players, because you can always woohoo without making babies, but this may mean so much to some players. To others this may seem indifferent. I like that EA makes a these sort of statements.
The clothes were alright. I didn't have much interest in them, but I noticed something: no more dozens of ugly hats that you'll only use once for the goofy of the town! Yes! Finally they're gone!
I created just one sim, Silva Silvala (how original). I then chose one of the neighbourhoods to live and had the first eye sight to the worlds I was meant to play. I think this is where my sister finally lost her interest. (She had also done with her pasta.) You now have the whole world under your save file, and can switch between families and neighbourhoods easily.
The play mode was much like it used to be, only the selection panels were scattered all over the place in an inconvenient way. The concept of events from mobile games were brought to game, this time in a form of Day of The Dead Challenge. I like the idea and collected all the Sugar Skulls. (Okay, cheating a bit first, but I did collect them all eventually. I also cheated the collection of the Bunny Eggs. The prize was cute.)
Some animations, like the Plumbob in the loading screen flickers sometimes annoyingly. Within the first two hours of play the game got already stuck with music shattering. I first thought the speakers unexpectedly broke, so I checked them with other audio. The sound was fine, so it was the game itself that caused the music to shatter. I went back to play and it was alright then.
"Why on earth doesn't this camera turn around?" I honestly had to ask for help, because I couldn't rotate the view. I felt stupid watching my sims and buildings from one angle, and I was sure the game couldn't possibly be that lousy. No help from the game instructions and the settings didn't change even if I tried switching it to The Sims 3 style. If you want to rotate up and down, you press control and the arrow keys, but if you want to rotate the view to the left or right, you use , and . . Except in buy or build mode, if you have and item selected. Then , and . turn the object and you can't rotate the view. WHY? The rotation was already working before with the arrow keys, why make it not working? I've heard that if you change the camera to The Sims 3 style, you can use the mice scroll to rotate the view. My mouse doesn't work that way because it's designed for Win 8 and will change the window if I press it. Maybe I should try to change it's options...
The task bar could be longer. The red text telling you've maxed out the bar is annoying. I love how the sims can chat with multiple sims at the same time and do other things while doing so. But it takes it's toll. My sim Silva almost died of hunger, because she was chatting while cooking. She continuosly cancelled the cooking task and went to sit next to her guest on a bed. I cancelled the chatting and send her to cook, and she cooked and chatted at the same time, always leaving her food to the stove. (Luckily the guest left and she finished her cooking and got something to eat.)
So if there are sims around the house, they will always start chatting independently. I wished this random chatting would be cancelled automatically, if I sent my sim to do something, because now I have to cancel the chatting every time they finish doing other things. Combine this with sims cancelling their task bar by themselves freguently, and you have to check upon your sims all the time so that they would do what you want. For example, my sim Silva almost burnt the whole house (with her oven), because she didn't put the fire down even when I told her to. And when you have a fire in your house, you can't call the firemen, because there are non, leave the lot or go to buy or build mode. Silva was just freaking out and I watched the house burn, unable to do anything. When she finally obeyd and put the fire down, half of the furniture was already burnt. That's very Sims 2 if you ask me.
The Cow Plants are back <3
I think they might have been favourite thing in The Sims 2 and I waited a long time to get them to The Sims 3. It wasn't hard to get one and once you had a bush producing the seeds, you could have a garden full of Cow Plants. I thought it spoiled the fun a little not having unique Cow Plants, but when I grew up one, it was't so easy to keep it alive. I tried to feed it some of my neighbours, but they never came near the plant. (At least the sims were finally smarter in that way, I can't remember how many neighbours died in Cow Plants theet in The Sims 2...)
I have always loved the gardening in The Sims, and in The Sims 4 it was better than I expected. My first plant was a garbage plant! Grafting is also fun and realistic in a sim way. The only problem with the plants are that they're not working.
At first everything looked liked it was supposed to, as far as I know, but then I lost all the names of the plants. They didn't appear when I moved the mouse on top of them like they first did, and this made the grafting difficult. I couln't tell what plant I was crafting to. Another problem is, that when this happens to plants out in the neighbourhood and I harvest them, nothing shows up in the inventory. I had to take cuttings of the plants I still didn't have to graft them in my own garden, so I could harvest them. I looked for a topic about this bug somewhere online but I found nothing. I should already start the game as vanilla, but I haven't done so yet. The game has been installed for less than a week and it's already two years old, so there shouldn't be bugs like this. Oh well, we know The Sims.
The loading screens... Oh my, why, oh why, oh why... They take away the open world and give you nothing instead. The Sims 4 was supposed to be light and easy to run and one way to achieve that was to add the loading screens. The game was first rather quick compared to my Sims 3 with EP's, Stuff Packs, Mods and a truckload of heavy CC, but after five days of play, with only one save game and EP and no custom content, the loading screens now take more than one and half minute every time. (I took the time for several times. The average loading time was 1,36 minutes, but my tests didn't include loading the home lot, which takes longer.) I rather load the game once for thirty minutes, like I have done with The Sims 2 and 3, while cooking or reading, than have a loading screen, no matter how short, every five or ten minutes. I like that you can now go to other towns, though it means nothing like the worlds in The Sims 3, and I'd accept a loading screen when changing between them. But loading every time you want to change the lot is like in The Sims 2, more than ten years ago. You can explore the little area around the lot you've loaded, and that's it. It's always the same area, so it's quickly seen, but the collectibles only respawn when you spent time there. After two years there's six neighbourhoods to visit and the seventh apparenlty arriving with the City Living expansion.
First of all, I loved the Gallery. It was easy and fast compared to The Sims 3 Exchange. There's even an app you can use for finding new stuff to download. It's said that items in Galleria won't include CC, which is nice if you don't want them, but I don't yet trust on that before I explore a little more. I had self attaching CC on my Sims 3 game I didn't know even existed in my game, (even a random lot inside another lot file) and I'd rather be 100% sure. I love CC but I want to controll it, especially if it's contaminated.
A massive problem wit the Gallery is, that every time you open it, it loads a huge amount of pictures to your computer, like the Featured Items file in The Sims 3. (Featured Items file regenerates every time you launch the game even if you had deleted them. The picture amount is about 250 MB. Crinrict has a way to get rid of the problem here)
I wouldn't have even noticed this so far if my Picasa wouldn't update automatically every image. When I opened Picasa, there were dozens of pictures downloading to it. I recognized they were from the Gallery. You can delete the cache file, where they show up, but it won't do any good, because the next time you open the Gallery, new pictures will show up. I haven't found a permanent fix for that. This quickens the Gallery, but you end up with a massive amount of completely useless pictures after that.
There were some ok stuff in the buy mode. The searching tool is just what I needed! But there were no collections like there were in The Sims 3 (that never worked for me, they were always empty when I opened the game). The collections were updated to the game in a patch, so maybe we still have hope with this game too. What I didn't like in the buy mode was that there were in some cases almost half of the items locked. I kinda like the idea of earning stuff, but then they should be somewhere separed place, like in The Sims 2 the career prizes were or the social rewards in The Sims 3. EA has to know something about psycology, so they should know that people don't like to know what they're missing. The locked items weren't motivating to me, quite the opposite. So I went and searched a cheat code.
The build mode is highly appreciated, I've heard, and that's what I've seen in the Gallery. I had some problems with it first. As my mouse wasn't working as espected, I couldn't turn the view, and I was quickly so frustrated that I actually closed the whole game after trying to build something. But I wanna build! I'll get there eventually. I'm just sorry for the Sims 3 if that means I won't be building with it anymore...
I take my words back. It's not that bad!
This game wasn't ment for us fans. If you like The Sims 2 and 3, this game isn't any better, only newer. Maybe EA wanted to make a game for a new generation of simmers, although I can't find a good reason for that, if they diss the old fans.
But as a game, it's still fun and working. I can't wait to learn how to use the new building mode, and once I get over the picture freight, uploading to the Gallery.
I'm still very glad I got the game as a promotion gift. I couldn't afford the game, or rather wanted to pay for it, but now I'm already checking the first game pack, Outdoor Retreat. It looks like something I like in my real life :) Also the festivals in the becoming EP City Life are very interesting to someone studying how to produce them in a little larger scale.
Would I recommend it? Yes, absolutely. Just maybe not to simmers who love The Sims 3. We simmers in Finland are loyal to the previous parts of the series, and I haven't heard too much of a praise about this game, for good reasons. But I like it more than I expected, so I'm happy :)