What is The Sims 4?
The Sims 4 for the Playstation 4 and Xbox One takes all the fun of the PC version of the game, and transplants it wholesale onto consoles, with all the same features, settings, and items you've come to know and love. Bringing the full virtual dolls house-cum-life sim experience to consoles, in The Sims 4, players create virtual characters known as Sims, then set about dictating every aspect of their lives, from their careers, friendships and families to the houses they live in. Open-ended and surprisingly addictive, The Sims 4 brings a new dimension to the game with new and improved personalities, aspirations and goals, which let you craft ever more realistic Sims, be it an anti-social criminal mastermind or a bubbly, friendly party girl - and everything in between.
How do you play The Sims 4?
A fairly free form game, The Sims 4 is essentially lets you "play God" in the lives of the Sims you've created, from helping them find love and promotions, to starting a family and growing old together. With a comprehensive Create-A-Sim suite, you can adjust almost everything about your Sims, from their appearance, to the clothes they wear, and their personalities, choosing up to three distinct traits (from an extensive list) that help shape their behaviour, whether they're outgoing, clumsy or a natural cook, to name but a few. You're also able to choose an aspiration - a goal that the Sim in question wants to accomplish with their life - perhaps finding a soulmate, having a large family or living in the biggest mansion possible, although it's up to you whether they'll actually get to realise their dream in the end.
Once you've created your Sim(s), you'll need to move them into a house and set about getting their life in order, buying some furniture and decorating their pad as you see fit, before inevitably having to find your Sims a job, as you start with a minimum of cash. Finding your Sim employment will get you a steady income to help you afford better living conditions and appliances, while spending time making sure your Sim reaches all their goals - learning new skills, and improving their old ones - will see you getting promoted, with better and better salaries as you go. But all work and no play makes Sims dull guys (and gals), and making friends, falling in love and starting a family is every bit as important in keeping your Sim happy, and one that's almost as rewarding as a huge mansion with all the best furniture money can buy. Of course, you're not alone in the world either, with the town coming pre-populated with a whole host of Sims that have different personalities, social interactions and quirks too, making getting to know the neighbours a fun pastime - as can paring two radically different personalities under one roof and watching the sparks fly.
How easy is The Sims 4 to pick up and play?
On the whole, The Sims 4 is a fairly easy going game, with nothing in the way of time limits, complex missions or any real objectives to contend with - instead, you're pretty much free to dictate your Sims' lives however you see fit. With your Sims handling the basics for themselves (at least in theory), like eating, toileting, and showering, all you need to do is help (or hinder) them in reaching their goals in life. However, with bars dictating energy, hunger, and happiness amongst others, there's only so much you can do in a day, and you'll sometimes have to step in to cheer a Sim up who's lost the will to carry on. It's also possible for Sims to die should an accident happen, but even then, death isn't always the end - there are means and ways of bringing your Sims back to life...
However, unless you turn it off via the in the menu (Options -> Game Options -> Gameplay -> untick the relevant Auto Age options), your Sims do age as the in-game days pass, and will eventually move though life stages and die. Ageing does affect what your Sim can do too - for example, elderly female Sims cannot get pregnant, and death will eventually come knocking for everyone.
In the transition from PC controls to the Playstation 4/Xbox One controller, how you control your Sims' lives is a little more awkward than it was, as you'll need to switch between interacting with either your Sims, or the game's menus, via an unusual "layer" system, which can take a bit of getting used to.
In terms of accessibility options, it's worth noting that a strong reading ability is required to play the Sims 4, as the Sims have their own unique language of gibberish. Everything, from simple conversation options and actions, like telling a joke or making some pancakes, to more in depth prompts for your Sims' current needs, is done through text alone, so for those who really want their Sims to get on in life, reading is a necessity.
- "Main Goal: Socialize with Your Date"
- "Ian has just noticed a section of software that is riddled with bugs. He can buckle down and report them all by himself, or convince his zealous Co-worker to do it."
- "Whisper Sweet Nothings"
Generally speaking, The Sims 4 is fairly family friendly when it comes to mature content - there's no bad language whatsoever, and violence is limited to very slapstick scuffles between Sims, where the fighting characters disappear in a ball of dust with the odd limb poking out; much more Tom & Jerry than blood and gore. Your Sims can also get electrocuted by household appliances, get eaten by a carnivorous plant or die in a fire - although again, these are all very slapstick and light-hearted.
However, where things do get a bit more risqué is when it comes to the romantic relationships your Sims can have, where hugging and kissing can eventually progress to sex, or 'WooHoo' as The Sims likes to call it. Essentially, when two romantically entangled Sims go to bed, you have the option to 'WooHoo' or 'Try for Baby', at which point your Sims will dive under the covers and proceed to do the deed, accompanied by a squirming lump in the bed, the occasional limb poking out from under the covers, with hearts and fireworks floating up from the couple. You'll also get the odd moan and silly sound effects, like giggles and wolf-whistles too. No nudity is shown during WooHoo-ings (everything is covered by bed covers, and afterwards your Sims are in their underwear), and in their general day to day life, such as when they're going to the toilet or taking a shower, any nudity is pixelated out completely.
Format Reviewed: Playstation 4