Title: The Sims 4 (Console)
Platform: Xbox One (reviewed), PS4
Developer: Maxis, The Sims Studio
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Release date: Out now
tl;dr:: A straight up port of the PC version that suits consoles pretty well!
Price: PS4: $50/£45 | Xbox One: $50/£45
Family Focus: Click here for more information.
The Sims 4 and I have always had a tricky relationship.
I’ve been an avid player of 3 for years since the launch, and still am today, so when 4 rocked up and took away my story progression, my open world, and my Create a Style, I wasn’t happy. I got The Sims 4 as a Christmas present when it launched, played it for an hour, then never again. So when I found out it was coming to console, I got curious.
For one thing, the console versions (up until 3’s releases) have always been story and quest based, not sandboxes. There’s also the great thing that since all consoles have the same specs, you’re not at risk of your PC melting into slag anymore. So I gave it a whirl, and The Sims 4 is surprisingly enjoyable on console – if you ignore the Bethesda-worthy glitches.
First up, if you got your hopes up and wanted another gem like the PSP version of The Sims 2, this is sadly just a port of the base game, and I mean vanilla base game. Choice and styles are very restricted, along with the gameplay, and it’s very obvious you’re meant to cave in and buy the expansion packs to enhance your game. This, I was actually considering, until I saw City Living being advertised for another £50. Toddlers, however, have been added in (these didn’t come with the original base game, causing such an uproar, they were later added as a free update), which I am utterly enamoured with. So much has been added to the life stage, and it’s a genuine challenge to play. Top marks, EA!
The cartoony style also translates over nicely, with vividly popping colours and a whimsical nature that fits right in with the franchise. There’s no inferior console version over here; it holds up perfectly, ignoring all claims of CC (custom content, for all the non-Sims nerds out there) perfection. It feels just as much at home on consoles as it does on its home platform, and this was something I really didn’t expect. The camera also feels so much better on the console version; it’s much more natural to zoom in and out with the joysticks, and the top down view doesn’t feel anywhere near as claustrophobic.
The controls are a bit of a mixed bag; some are wonderfully fluid and intuitive, and others are a controller-throwing lesson in frustration. My favourite one is the three time settings – these are mapped to the R1/L1 keys, which is perfectly within reach, and exactly what you instinctively go for, and the walls up/down/partial being left and right on the D-Pad, with changing the storey for the building on up/down. On the other, there’s no button to hit to toggle between Live Mode and Buy/Build Mode. You’ll edge scroll as you move the cursor to the corner of the screen, but can’t always hover over menu options accurately. One of these weirder choices is navigating said menus – you can either move slowly, but freely, or maniacally snap between windows whenever you so much as twitch.
This is the main object of frustration when playing – nothing is ever as quick or easy as it should be. You can’t just hover over the object you want, then move the camera when in Buy Mode, you have to manually exit out of the menu first, and god help you if you’re trying to read what a Moodlet says, or work out what to do for your next promotion. In those menus, there’s no option to hover freely at all, just ping erratically between menus until you’re dizzy. Even in Create a Sim, you have to navigate out and close menus before you can click on the next thing you want to change, as opposed to just switching automatically. It’s a minor nitpick, but it’s there, and it’s ultimately annoying.
When you do get free movement, it’s slow and imprecise, ultimately making you misclick and stumble when you really don’t want to. Navigating the menus is a pain (pro tip, use the D-pad, makes life much easier), and as for the famed “sculpt your Sims’ face by clicking and dragging,” in Create a Sim, that’s pretty much impossible to do accurately. If anything, the two movement options need to be switched; speed up and make the free one more sensitive, and for the love of god, slow down the automatic one.
There’s also the issue of the glitches. This is not unfamiliar territory for me in the slightest (Error Code 12, anyone?) but this feels especially bad for a game that is not only three years old but on another platform, where these things should have been ironed out. I had several tutorial boxes that refused to close unless I rebooted the game, the slight animation bump when switching between Live/Build/Buy Mode, moodlet effects happening without the triggering moodlet, and my last save data completely erased, leaving me with an older one. Thankfully, that was the worst of it, but erasing saves is not a good thing, especially when there are few easy ways to back up console data.
On the whole, this is The Sims without the hassle of needing a good computer. My only real complaints are the weird glitches, slightly buggy controls, and the fact that said controls aren’t always mapped to the most intuitive buttons, without really explaining where they are – why is “sell,” mapped to Y?! Ugh… I’m perfectly happy with this being the easier to access version for non-PC gamers, even if I do miss the glory days of The Sims 2 on console. My real issue is the fact that there are no added incentives for buying on console.
Yes, we got toddlers and pools straight out of the gate, but the expansions are still full price. Considering the base game is so bare bones, it very much feels like you’re being pushed into buying the expansions just so you don’t send your virtual people crazy with boredom. There is a Deluxe Party Edition, but it’s more like a Stuff Pack than an actual expansion. If this had been bundled with City Living, I would have been totally for it, but considering Origin will probably have Christmas deals to discount the expansions, I don’t think I’ll be picking up any console expansions until there’s a much bigger price drop.
- Looks really nice on console.
- Most controls are fluid and intuitive.
- Easily accessible for non PC players.
- Control sensitivity needs fixing.
- Still buggy, and console means no mods.
- All the expansions are still full price.
The Sims 4 (Console) is rated PEGI 12/ESRB T for Teen. There’s mild crude humour, cartoon violence, and the most PG rated sex you’ll ever find. Totally safe for kids, especially now there’s no dubious mods to corrupt them!
This review is based on a digital copy of the game provided by the publisher for the purposes of this review.