Originally released on PC back in 2014, The Sims 4 has finally made its way on to consoles. Ports often have issues with regards to controls, and The Sims 4 does suffer when it comes to using the UI not only is it quite clumsy, but also bugged. During the early stages of the game there are tutorials that appear in pop-up windows, that’s all fine and well, but when the game has decided to keep the cursor on the play screen behind there’s nothing else to do other than reset the game, and if you’re an hour or so in that is a lot of progress to make up again, especially when it happens two or three times. This could be enough to put some people off. However, I persevered with it and thankfully with the tutorial pop ups only showing the once, they finally stopped, enabling me to get on with playing the game.
There were a few occasions after the tutorial bugs where I did encounter others, they did seem to mainly occur after switching from build mode to live mode. where I would no longer be able to interact with objects in the world, with the option to tell my Sims to “go here” available. The first time I was unaware that this had happened as I saved the game to exit just after doing a touch of remodelling, and upon loading was presented with the fact that the game had saved with the bug still in effect, forcing me to reload from a previous save, which in itself is a task if you have multiple saves on the go as the game is currently bugged to show the time and date of loading the game on each save, rather than the time and date you actually made the save.
Moving forward I’ve found myself saving every few minutes in fear of the game bugging out again, touch wood I’ve been able to play a good few hours since without having any other bugs rear their heads. On to gameplay and The Sims 4 is pretty much what you would expect, I admittedly have not played a Sims game in a good few years but there’s a definite familiarity to it, and you can get stuck in pretty much straight away, that is once you have got over the cumbersome and clumsy UI that just has not ported very well from the PC version, especially the lack of cursor speed, my it is slow. Switching between the cursor and menus is done via the view button, pressing it will transfer you to the menus that surround the screen, you can also click them while in cursor mode to access. I feel that it would have benefited with an overhaul altogether, maybe implementing a pop up menu wheel that works so well with many other PC ports.
Back to the gameplay, you start out by creating your Sim, or Sims that you want to start with then take them on their journey through life. There’s plenty of stuff to keep you occupied, the game does feature all of the updates present on the PC version and there is plans to periodically update the game with future updates, however, there is no support for social events, custom content or mods. I feel the devs have missed a trick here, as other games have proven that mod support on console is much welcomed. I do however like the new mood system, it adds just that little bit more to the game than just making sure your sims eat, sleep, poop, repeat. Moods can give boosts to activities such as practising an instrument or social activities. this coupled with the new multitasking that sims do make them feel all the more realistic.
Aside from controlling your sims, you can also build and edit their homes. This is one area of the game I really like, although it is tricky using a controller to create walls etc, and the camera sometime like to do it’s own thing, mainly slowly moving away from the area you are working on. That aside, there is plenty to keep you busy here, I spent a fair few hours (not counting the time I lost due to the tutorial bug) turning my Sim’s single storey home into a multiple floored dream mansion. Building can be done either piece by piece or if you are not so confident you can build rooms simply selecting the room shape you need, placing it then drag to resize. Ideal for getting a new build set up quickly or for those not so confident or new to the game.
I really want to like The Sims 4, the bugs are a massive let down for the game and simply shouldn’t be there. I could see it being off putting for newcomers, as for myself having played previous Sims titles and enjoying them, I persevered, as I have previously said. It did make me turn the game off and play something else for a while, as there’s nothing more frustrating than losing hours of progress, and in all honesty I probably would have not bothered picking it up again until a fix was issued had I not had to review it. Moving on to the visuals, they are what you expect, a cartoonish 3D world with lots of nice little details, beatufiful you could say. The same goes for the audio, plenty of ambient noises, little jingles that play when Sims level up a skill etc. right down to the iconic ‘Simlish’ language spoken in The Sims Universe.