the sims 4

Of mice and men

XBox: The Official Magazine - - START - Martin Kitts

After a seven-year ab­sence from con­soles, EA’s hugely suc­cess­ful vir­tual doll­house re­turns to Xbox One by way of a be­lated con­ver­sion of the best-sell­ing PC game of both 2014 and 2015.

There are few rules or ob­jec­tives for liv­ing in the sand­box world of The Sims

4. You can mi­cro­man­age ev­ery as­pect of your res­i­dents’ lives or leave them to get on with it, but since it’s a shiny, happy place of per­pet­ual sun­shine, pop­u­lated by over-friendly peo­ple who can’t stop talk­ing non­sense, we thought it might be the per­fect place to try start­ing a cult.

So we cre­ated Ted, a charis­matic joker with a dark side, and moved him into the largest plot of land in the frag­mented town. He was go­ing to need all that space for his pala­tial liv­ing quar­ters and ‘re-ed­u­ca­tion’ dun­geon, and we set about build­ing some­thing be­fit­ting his as­pi­ra­tions.

The build­ing menus of­fer a huge va­ri­ety of items, from ready-made rooms to bare walls that you draw with a cur­sor and fur­nish from scratch. Items are filed in sev­eral ways – you can click on a pic­ture of a house to find parts, or view them sorted by func­tion. You can also search by text, which isn’t ideal on a con­sole but is still a quicker way of lo­cat­ing some of the more ob­scure items.

Same as it ever was

This is the full-fat PC game, not so much adapted for Xbox as ported across un­changed. There are no larger fonts to make text more vis­i­ble from across the liv­ing room, and the pri­mary con­trol method is to push a cur­sor around the screen with the thumb­stick, which is im­pre­cise and of­ten frus­trat­ing. But you do get ab­so­lutely ev­ery­thing from the base

Sims 4 game, which is an enor­mous amount of con­tent.

All of that fur­ni­ture comes at a price, though, and by the time we ran out of cash we had a two-room hovel that would rent for about a grand a week in London but in the pris­tine Sims world was barely fit for a trailer park. The cheap­est nar­row win­dows gave the in­te­rior an authentic prison cell am­bi­ence, and a lack of funds to fin­ish the walls meant that the kitchen and bath­room be­came part of the main open plan liv­ing space. With only the toi­let as a wa­ter source, Ted’s

per­sonal hy­giene soon took a turn for the un­pleas­ant.

Think­ing maybe our grand plan for Ted was just a non-starter, we de­cided to for­get about him and start over with a new SIm on a cheaper plot. Sorry Ted, they prob­a­bly don’t even have a cult leader ca­reer path in the game any­way. But that’s when we found we could ac­tu­ally send a newly cre­ated Sim to move in with him, bring­ing $20K in fresh funds as a house­warm­ing gift.

Pretty soon Ted was liv­ing in the man­sion of his dreams. When he felt sad be­cause he didn’t have a pool, we brought in a cou­ple of new re­cruits and built him one while he slept. When he ex­pressed a pass­ing in­ter­est in learn­ing to play mu­sic, we added some more Sims, pock­eted the money and built him a con­cert hall.

We got into a rou­tine of jump­ing into the char­ac­ter cre­ation screen, quickly ran­domis­ing a new Sim and send­ing it straight round to Ted’s place, but this is where we even­tu­ally fell foul of the game’s lack of con­ces­sions for con­sole play. We’d been leav­ing the Xbox in sleep mode be­tween ses­sions, in the mis­taken as­sump­tion that ma­jor events such as a new house­mate mov­ing in were trig­ger­ing an au­tosave. One night a dash­board up­date must have hap­pened, be­cause the next day the con­sole had restarted and we noted with hor­ror that Ted had lost five fol­low­ers, $100,000 and an en­tire wing of the house we’d spent so long bat­tling the con­trols to cre­ate.

Sense of clo­sure

De­spite it hav­ing had over 20 patches on PC since launch, crit­i­cisms from the orig­i­nal ver­sion still ap­ply here. The lack of an open world is par­tic­u­larly dis­ap­point­ing, with the town di­vided into tiny lots sep­a­rated by lengthy load­ing screens that will soon put you off the idea of travel. Sims go off to work dur­ing the day – Ted man­aged to find a gig as a standup co­me­dian – but you can’t fol­low them around town, you just have to read about what they’ve been up to.

The fo­cus of the game is nar­row, par­tic­u­larly when com­pared to The

Sims 3, and while it took a bit of a crit­i­cal kick­ing in 2014, it sold ex­tremely well on PC re­gard­less. Three years later, if you’d like to see what all the fuss was about but never had a com­puter to play it on, this Xbox One ver­sion is a fair com­pro­mise.

far left Why do our par­ties al­ways end up in the bath­room?

right Don’t ac­ci­den­tally cook your own flesh!

left Ted is feel­ing slightly tense as the first of to­day’s pil­grims de­parts for paradise.

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