Games: The Sims 4

In the last 48 hours, I have survived three kitchen fires, switched careers twice and flirted with a married man.

Thankfully, these zany life events did not happen to me but to my avatar in The Sims 4.

The fourth instalment in one of the best-selling video-game series of all time, The Sims 4 is a sandbox simulator that lets you create and control an entire town full of virtual citizens.

You can help them develop their careers, start families, give them a blissful retirement surrounded by grandchildren, or become evil and make their virtual lives a living hell.

As a fan of the original 1998 game, I had high hopes for The Sims 4. After all, the series had always delighted players with radical features in every fresh instalment.

But 12 hours into this game and it seemed as if game studio Maxis had removed more features than it had added new ones to it.

Veteran players of The Sims will notice the differences immediately. When my Sim first moved into her new town, I was quite surprised at how quiet it was. There were no cars on the road, just a couple of random Sims walking by.

This is a contrast to the vibrant Sims 3 game world, where Sims characters whiz by in cars or pedal around on bicycles, and newspapers are delivered daily by local kids.

Features that have been part of the series since the first instalment, such as swimming pools, burglars and ghosts, are also missing, although some have made their return in updates since the game was launched.

Other popular Sims characters, such as the troublesome but adorable toddlers and the mysterious green-skinned aliens, have also been left out.

Now, baby Sims simply transform into school-going children on their birthdays, skipping the toddler life stage altogether, which is rather bizarre for a people simulator game.

While there is a high chance that developer Maxis will add the missing features in expansion packs later on, I still feel short-changed into having to pay for gameplay features that should be there in the first place.

There is also less to do in The Sims 4, though Maxis has new additions to keep this game fun.

Players who found the build mode difficult to master in the previous games can now construct dream homes with new construction tools. Adding rooms, moving walls and even tweaking the angle of the roofs is now much easier.

Gameplay in The Sims 4 sets a fresh focus on the emotions and social interactions between Sims characters.

Taking a steam shower, for example, can make your Sim character feel all flirty and ready for romance. A verbal boo-boo, on the other hand, might leave a character feeling embarrassed for the rest of the day.

These moods add an element of unpredictability that makes for great fun.

The game is also beautiful. My Sim home might be a simple one-storey house, but the hardwood floors and country-style furniture display great details on my Razer Blade laptop.

However, the many missing features make this an incomplete product and almost a step back in the series.

Jasmine Osada is a freelance writer.

Rating: 6/10

Price: $89.90 (PC, Digital Deluxe); $69.90 (PC, standard; version tested)

Genre: Simulation

This article was first published on Nov 19, 2014. Get a copy of Digital Life, The Straits Times or go to for more stories.