The Sims 4 Review – Console Controls Conundrum

The Sims has always been a staple of my now limited gaming time. Whenever I get the chance I do tend to load up The Sims 3 and spend an hour or so continuing the mundane life I’ve created for myself. Now it seems I can do such mundane tasks on a console, with The Sims 4 on Playstation 4. I’ve never been a fan of The Sims on console, as to be fair it’s much more suited to the keyboard and mouse than controller. But, I was willing to give this a shot and to see where it would take me.

After the disappointment that was the Xbox 360 version of The Sims 3, I was extremely hesitant to play this. So much so that upon receiving my review copy, I put it off for as long as I could. I lasted about a week before surprising myself and popping the disc into my console.

Usually at this point in the review, I would have talked about the story. But considering this is The Sims, what can I really say? I suppose we should just sit here and wait then, there’s nothing to say. You basically create your own story like all the other games in the series, except that weird one on the PSP. Whatever the case, there’s really nothing to say in regard to story telling, there can be as little or lot of story as you want there to be. In my case, not a lot, I basically made a hyperbolic version of me and allowed him to become a successful and critically acclaimed author, unlike myself.

Gameplay

One of the best parts of this game to be quite honest is the Create-a-Sim mode. It’s had a few nuts and bolts added into it and it’s been made into something much more complex. Although saying that it’s definitely dumbed down the trait options, which don’t have as much depth or choice as the previous iterations of the series. Although the lacking trait options, the options in regard to styling out your Sim are so much better than previous iterations of the game.

The Sims 4

Fun in the park!

To give credit where it is most definitely due, The Sims 4 does expand on a lot of areas that were lacking in the previous game. By far the biggest change for me is the larger variety of standard areas in the game. Rather than being shoved into the one and only map of the game, we get a nice choice of three very different areas. The layout and style of all three is very different but has no impact on the gameplay as far as I am aware. Quite simply it’s an aesthetic choice, but after playing so much of The Sims 3, it’s just nice to get out into the desert.

By far my favourite part of The Sims is the build mode feature. I always obsessed over building and furnishing a house for my Sim. Unfortunately, as console owners are aware, building things that require multiple menu navigations is very difficult. To be fair, EA can have credit for at least trying to make this work, but it just doesn’t. It’s clunky, difficult to use and unresponsive at the best of times. What I did like was how creative they were getting, they did the absolute best they could. The left and right bumpers are used to control the free placement grid, with the ability to turn it off and on with ease. However, aside from that, everything else is a plain mess.

It’s not just the build mode either, live mode certainly serves similar problems. The inability to click on the icon of a Sim and fly straight to their location is a very difficult one. If there is that option then I most certainly have no clue whatsoever as to where that is. But enough of pissing about with houses, how is it to actually live with your Sim? Well, it’s really more or less the same as the older games. The only real changes throughout this series have been solely graphical. The shakeup of the traits system has led to some newer conversation topics and interactions, but they are more novelties than anything else and will not affect the gameplay whatsoever.

The Sims 4

Them Abs Though!

See, I don’t like games that play themselves, and I can confirm The Sims 4 will play itself. I had to put the controller down and take a phone call. Half an hour later, my Sim has managed to write a best-selling children’s book. Basically, if you leave the Sim to their own devices, they’ll get stuff done. That is both a blessing and a curse though, looking through the options yielded no results for the disabling of free will. It seems now Sims are free to escape from death, bastards.

Graphics and Sound

I may be one of only seven other people in this world to prefer the graphics of this game over that of The Sims 3. Don’t get me wrong, the previous iteration of this game is truly superb looking and is still looking great almost ten years later. However, the more cartoonish and bright graphics of this game, while hindering the realism, do add a certain clean slate to the series, something I would argue is very well needed. The same graphics had been kept for quite some time and it’s only now on The Sims 4 that we see a major change in graphical style. It was definitely worth the wait, with the game looking absolutely superb. The vivacious colours and brighter style and tone is definitely one of my favourite parts from this game.

As usual, musically and sound effects wise, The Sims is always a pleasure. There’s nothing I can really fault about the music within this game, it manages to capture the “hits” of the first game and the melodic accompaniment that was found in the future games. To say it’s one of the best bits about this game would be an understatement.

The Sims 4

Building your dream house

Quite a few menus have changed in this game, especially when compared to the more streamlined and menu driven HUD of the third game in the series. Instead, we now have tiny tabs in the bottom right of the screen that we can click on. No longer do we have to visit a building and apply for a job, if you want a job you’re three clicks away from having one. If only it worked like that in the real world, we can dream though can’t we.

Conclusion

Regardless of what I’ve said about this game, be wary that it is in fact a console edition of the game. No matter how good this version is, the keyboard and mouse alternative will just be better, that’s a simple fact. The problem with The Sims is that it is very much a desktop game, and the branches into console gaming have always been mixed at best. If you don’t have any way of getting The Sims on your computer or laptop, then I would definitely recommend this. While it is certainly the weakest game in the series, there’s certainly nothing wrong with this console edition.

Without a doubt the best way to play The Sims is not on a Playstation, however if it’s the only option available, you may have a bit of fun, I certainly did. Lacking the finesse and precision of its keyboard counterparts, The Sims 4 may look funky and fun, but you’ll find a fair bit of frustration throughout your playthrough. If you can slog it out and get used to the controls then you’re certainly in for a half and half experience. Think The Sims 4 Lite, we’re not entirely there just yet, but it’s serviceable for those stuck with The Sims on console.

The Sims 4 receives a Thumb Culture Silver Award.

Disclaimer: We received a physical copy to review this game.

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