I never really got into The Sims. I played the original way back in the day when it was released on the Gamecube, but I think I spent more time building a really cool house with the unlimited money cheat than actually playing the game. I thought MySims was kind of cute on the Wii, but other than that the series never really hooked me.
I just never saw the appeal of playing a game that tried to emulate the monotony of daily life, at least not without some kind of hook. Sure, Animal Crossing’s bread and butter is basically the monotony of everyday life, but at least that game lets you hang out with a talking cat in a Power Rangers helmet.
Going into The Sims 4, I wasn’t really sure what to expect. It’s been so long and there have been so many entries into The Sims franchise; who knew how much content could be packed into the 4th and most modern game? Unfortunately, what I got was a testament to tedium; I know The Sims has a pretty big fanbase, but playing this only made me question why.
From a gameplay perspective, The Sims 4 is about the same as I remember. You make a Sim, build a house, furnish it with the essentials and a few recreational items and then watch your Sim take part in the daily grind, repeatedly reminding it to eat, sleep, poop, and bathe. You get your Sim a job, help it to make friends, find love, all that fun stuff. And while I can see why theoretically that can be enjoyable to some people—and I’ll admit there is a certain addictiveness to it—what it boiled down to for me was a game about watching bars go down, and having to make sure they go back up.
That’s it. The Sims are the most needy creatures in video game history, and far beyond basic abilities such as eating when they need to, or going to the bathroom without your constant instruction. Managing one was beyond annoying, and got worse when my Sim had his girlfriend move in with him, and now I had to manage two of these complete buffoons. And beyond the basic necessity bars, the Sims have emotional quantifiers, so a hard day at work would make them stressed out and I would have to spend time I could’ve been using to better my Sim to calm him down with baths and venting to his girlfriend.
But the real problem with The Sims 4 on PS4 is how poorly optimized it is for console. It reeks of a game that takes the same interface as its PC counterpart and just slaps it on a controller. Icons are mapped to the corners of the screen, moving the joystick will cycle between them one by one like a badly designed NES password screen. Clicking the touchpad will shift you to “mouse mode” but the control of the mouse is pathetic, picking up a crazy amount of momentum at any prolonged hold and swinging wildly out of control. Menus and sub-menus are tedious to navigate—again, you can see how this would’ve worked had you had a mouse with proper control, but on a PS4 controller it’s an absolute chore.
And while this isn’t so bad while you’re playing the game proper, it’s beyond frustrating when trying to build anything in The Sims 4. Which is to say nothing of the pathetic camera controls while building; how walls and items swing out of place when turning the camera, the two camera angles you get that range from a slight 45 degree angle to Bird’s Eye View. How you need to click out of every menu if you want to undo or redo any action. My whole neighborhood consists of one single house, because I couldn’t fathom trying to build an entire community with these controls.
And The Sims 4 runs pretty pathetically too. It was particularly bad while in the “Build Mode; ”after building a pretty small house and putting, honestly only a few items into it, it began chugging at 10 frames per second and there were a few moments in the “Life Mode” where began to seize up. Shifting from the “Life Mode” to the “Build Mode” chugged so hard I honestly held my breath in anticipation of a crash. Sure the game looks fine, characters have a cartoonish style that removes them from reality and adds to the silliness of the whole Sims affair, and the music and sound quality isn’t bad, but that’s about it.
Oh and it’s definitely worth mentioning all the DLC that comes with The Sims 4, and by “comes with this game” I mean, EA allowing you the privilege to purchase DLC for a three-year-old game that is being re-released on consoles. This includes the $54 CDN “City Living Pack,” the $27 CDN “Vampire Pack”, and the $14 CDN “Vintage Glamor Pack.” One extra area, some costumes and “abilities” that you’re expected to buy again, to say nothing of the $80 CDN “Deluxe Party Edition” that doesn’t even come with any of these expansion packs.
Like I said, I know The Sims has its fans, and I could probably see why. Like Harvest Moon or Animal Crossing, there’s a certain amount of joy you get from creating something and watching it flourish. But I personally cannot understand the appeal. At the end of the day, it’s a game about watching bars deplete and then fill up with a half-decent house building minigame built in. Maybe I’d have enjoyed The Sims 4 more on PC, and maybe you would too. Skip this one.