I was thinking of a clever way to start this review, writing something about the importance of The Sims franchise or something like it, but after playing the PS4 port of The Sims 4, there’s only one way to properly start this review: oh my goodness this game is BAD.
Surprised? Well, I surely am. I wasn’t expecting this level of bad.
Now that my proper introduction is out of the way, I can talk about The Sims 4, otherwise known as the black sheep of The Sims franchise. Released in 2014, the game got a lot of criticism for lacking lots of features at launch, such as the absence of an open world city or basic elements such as a freaking swimming pool, as well as the very expensive expansions released later on, which featured a lot of those cut elements (thankfully the swimming pool was added later on for free). EA had three years to analyze how to properly re-release The Sims 4 for consoles. They knew the mistakes they made, this was the chance for redemption. But this is no ordinary publisher we’re talking about, we’re talking about the publisher that made headlines in a nearly monthly basis this year for controversial moves (closing Visceral, buying Respawn, Mass Effect: Andromeda as a whole) or anti-consumer actions in their games (the whole Battlefront II controversy, the death sentence to the Need for Speed franchise that was Payback). So how did EA release The Sims 4 for consoles? Well, they put out the same damn vanilla version from 2014.
Granted, it features whichever free updates released throughout the past few years (yes, you can build swimming pools), but once you log into the game, the first thing you see, even before you can properly start the game, is a nice invitation for you to spend more than a hundred bucks worth of expansions packs for a game released three years ago. Ain’t that a beautiful way to greet players into a new game? They don’t even know what’s inside the disc and they already have the opportunity to spend three times the price of the game in content in order to make it have as many elements as its predecessors had on their release day.
If this wasn’t enough, the game itself isn’t very good, either. Whoever was in charge of porting this PC game to consoles did a very poor job, I regret to announce.
Let’s not even dive into the graphics and sound departments in much detail. You know The Sims 4 is not a looker, looking pretty much like The Sims 3. Not many visual improvements have been made when porting to the PS4, as there are even a few framerate drops every now and then. The sound department is also pretty weak, with the near nonexistent soundtrack being the weakest of all core Sims games. I really hope you like that silly gibberish language the Sims talk all the time, because that’s 90% of all the noises you’ll hear throughout the game.
The real issue here, though, is the gameplay. The controls are simply terrible. I do understand that trying to adapt a mouse+keyboard layout to a video game controller is no easy task, but The Sims 4 features controls so confusing and unreliable it makes me lack motivation to keep on playing the game. For starters, the analog stick is TOO sensitive, making the simplest act of properly place a trash can next to a toilet seat a chore. Another big issue is the fact the game decides by itself to change between a free cursor mode, like a mouse, and a highlight mode, like most games handle menus. The button layout is also, for lack of a more respectful word, terrible. You can only use the control stick to select items when on menus, with the d-pad being used for four different commands, such as selecting Sims and removing walls. Before you say that translating the controls of a PC-based building simulator to consoles is impossible, just take a look at Tropico 5 or Cities: Skylines. They are definitely not perfect, but they’re surely way more enjoyable than this trainwreck of gameplay design.
The most annoying issue in the game, however, is the excessive amount of tutorials. For every small action you try to do in the game, an invitation for a tutorial shows up instead. There are moments in which the game basically freezes due to the fact it is literally loading a dozen tutorial invitations at once. It feels incredibly invasive and it makes the already annoying gameplay even more annoying to deal with.
In the end, all I can say about the Playstation 4 version of The Sims 4 is that it’s a gigantic disappointment, even if the original game wasn’t that good in the first place. It features excessive amounts of day-one DLC, underwhelming visuals and sound effects, a depressing lack of features that were great in The Sims 3, and one of the worst PC-to-console control schemes I’ve ever seen in my life. Electronic Arts, once again, released a dud in 2017. This is getting too frequent and too annoying for their own good.
If you excuse me, I’m off to the game store. I’ll get a refund and look (or wait) for a pack featuring all expansions for a much more dignified pricetag. On PC, of course. Didn’t you read what I just wrote?
Better yet, I’ll just stick to The Sims 3.
Also available on: PC, Xbox One