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The Sims 4 Review

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Definitely a fixer-upper

★★★★★

Oh dear. Let's cut to the chase – The Sims 4 is a colossal disappointment. It's not disappointing in the same way that Maxis' last game, the revamped Sim City was, with its forced online play and crippled servers. No, they've learned their lesson on that front: this is a wholly single player experience, with as much or as little online interaction as you choose. Instead, the mistakes this time around come in the form of a mountain of missing or severely curtailed features.

Anyone returning to the series will be dismayed to find there's no more Create-a-Style, which once allowed you customise the appearance of just about anything in the game. There's no toddler phase for children, with Sims going from baby to child (babies themselves are just interactive objects, too). Building options are deficient, with no more basements, pools or multi-story buildings, and the entire gaming world is flat. It’s hard to create the kind of virtual life you want for your digital minions when so many options are removed.

There is some good though. The control system is intuitive, far more so than its predecessors. Sims can now perform complementary actions – cooking and conversing with guests, or hitting the gym and flirting – improving their individual stats in both areas at once. Look at them, multi-tasking like real people! The build system, limited in choice of what you can build though it is, is at least improved. Rooms can be dropped in, pre-shaped and styled, or walls and decor can be added manually according to taste. Dialogue options are vastly expanded, and your Sims' emotions and moods are clearly indicated, while the traits you can give them – such as being shy, or hyper, or nerdy – impact their interactions and relationships.

Complete newcomers may be perfectly fine with the changes; to anyone unfamiliar with the series, The Sims 4 is even enjoyable in places, despite its sense of humour feeling a little forced at times. Gamers with absolutely no experience of this nearly 15-year old series are likely to be few in number though, and the weight of the missing features – with nothing compelling enough to make up for their omission – is damning.

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