I’m sat at home playing a game and suddenly I notice I’m impatiently tapping my foot… Hmm… I get a bit comfier and think no more about it. Later I notice my palms are sweaty and my hands are shaking, am I sick? I get a glass of water and have an early night, I’m probably just tired… All through the night I toss and turn, unable to sleep. I can’t quite pin down what’s wrong with me. I did eat a lot of cake maybe that… No, it’s not that sort of feeling. This is more… Psychological. Eventually I drift off to sleep where I have the strangest dream: my other half and I are talking but I can’t quite understand what we’re saying. Suddenly our neighbour, who we barely know, knocks on the door, takes a book from our bookshelf and reads it on our sofa, ignoring us. Dan tells me a joke about engineers… I don’t know anything about engineers but it’s the funniest thing I’ve heard for a while. I realise I’m late for work, stand up and spin around very quickly and I’m in my work clothes. I head out the door shouting “Dag dag!” behind me to say goodbye… Suddenly everything starts to click… My eyes widen in fear and I look up to see a floating green diamond rotating above my head.
I start awake covered in sweat and shaking. Dan is horrified and asks if I’m alright, “WHAT YEAR IS IT?!” I scream.
“My God… It’s been three years already. It is time.”
“Time for what?! You’re scaring me!”
“I have to play The Sims.”
I’m pretty sure every one has played The Sims at some point in their life. If you haven’t that is quite an achievement. My personal big Sims era was when Sims 2 came out. I had three expansion packs for it: Pets, Nightlife and University and I would spend ages playing it on and off throughout the years. While it’s immensely popular The Sims is one of those games that you play religiously for a few weeks and then don’t touch again for ages. Eventually I built up a huge sim empire from my on-off relationship with the game and I think back to their adventures fondly. Was I a cruel creator? I think I was better than some but I could have been a little more gracious…
Since leaving for University my time between Sims sessions inevitably widened but every few years I get the itch to play it. It’s like a craving that starts off small, just a little thought of “I’d quite like to play the Sims again…” then the feeling builds in intensity. It can be temporarily satisfied with new games or other simulator-esque games to an extent but eventually you just can’t stand it any longer.
That is how I came to download Sims 4 on my PS4. I had a few reservations about this, mainly the fact that I remembered Sims 4 being akin to a spoiled child with a huge amount of potential that you can only unlock by shoving more money at it in the hopes that it will get a good education and realise its’ full potential one day, the most progress it makes though is staggering to the nearest McDonalds, getting a job there where they do the bare minimum, eat all the food and eventually get fired, return home and live in your basement surviving off the fish heads you throw through the door occasionally as you focus more on your preferred children, Nintendo and Activision. In other words: the base game is pretty shite after a while. Sure, all the Sims games are like that to an extent, that’s why they make so many expansion packs. I don’t remember feeling so disappointed with the base game of Sims 2 though, or maybe that’s just rose-tinted nostalgia glasses working their magic. With this in mind I got a bundle in the PS4 sale which included the base game and the Deluxe Party Bundle all for £20. The party bundle is definitely not the add on I’d have chosen if I had more of a choice but hey, now I can have a flaming Tikki bar and Animal Hats (none of which I’ve actually used yet…).
Another reason I’m more bothered by the Sims 4 is the start up screen:
“Welcome to the game! Spend more money! Yay! We’re online now so we can bombard you with adverts!”
Go away, I literally just downloaded you! Unfortunately throughout the game you’ll occasionally see some stuff that seems pretty cool buuuuuut you can only get it with a certain expansion pack. What a shame… $$$
Obviously that was not enough to put me off and I spent a happy Sunday getting back into the game. First of all I created myself and my other half, obviously. Unlike when I was a teenager I could actually base my boyfriend off a real person so that was a nice little high five to past me. Here we are:
Things got a little too real when Dan’s default autonomous activity turned out to be playing video games, even over showering or eating “HEY I’M DYING OVER HERE!!!… Ooh a computer…”, while my Sim started getting bored/tense because there was so much she wanted to do but she couldn’t because she had a job. She’s a little high maintenance needing exercise, geeky activities, and a huge assortment of other random things to keep her happy. I didn’t realise how exhausting I am until Sim-me came back from work bored, then after playing games for a bit declared herself tense from lack of exercise, then after a jog shifted to tense because of a lack of nerdy interactions… I finally thought I had the balance down then she decided she wanted to start a different career. Starting to regret the Renaissance aspiration but I can’t deny that it’s not true to life. A little too true to life… It’s almost creepy.
I think there’s been a few changes since I last played. There are more things available, not a huge amount but there’s a few more hairstyles, furniture, clothes, etc than I remember there being. I don’t remember toddlers being a thing before either and I’m not going to lie… I don’t really like children but these toddlers are kind of cute, I’ve not managed to get the balance right for them for food and sleep though, I keep getting warned they’re going to be taken away for some reason or another… Oops.
It’s a lot harder to kill Sims without cheats. They can simply climb out of a pool now, they don’t need a ladder! To add insult to injury stuff just doesn’t catch fire quite like it used to. I didn’t enable cheats straight away because if you do that it disables trophies and while I’m not a huge achievement chaser… I did want to try without cheats at first. For one of my families I decided to re-enact the Disney movie Princess and the Frog because there are a lot of collectable frogs around in the game and the option to practice voodoo, so it just seemed like the next logical step. For that I needed Tiana to experience the death of her beloved father so that she could continue his legacy becoming the best chef in Willow Creek, eventually getting together with aspiring musician, and voodoo victim, Naveem. I didn’t just want to shut him in a room and starve him to death though, I wanted it to be relevant and witness-able for maximum effect. Despite putting carpets, plants and any other horribly flammable objects around their horrendously cheap oven the bastard just wouldn’t catch fire and got really good at cooking instead, so I started getting him to fix dangerous objects with absolutely no handiness experience and now he’s great at repairing stuff too! Finally, I lit some candles around wooden and fabric objects and had him sit in the middle of them. Nothing. At that point I decided the bugger deserved to live and Tiana got to keep both parents. Fine, I guess she can have the well-adjusted life she deserves. See if I care. What was super annoying though was that I made a new family a bit later (who I didn’t want anything nasty to happen to… yet) and their oven caught fire and set fire to one of them literally on the first day. Maybe it was karma.
Next, I don’t know if this was a thing before but there are settings you can use for transsexual sims, so for example, if you’re creating a male sim you can give them a preference to wear female clothes, female characteristics and they can even use the toilet sitting or standing. The Sims has always been pretty progressive what with their being no limits on choice of partner, no discrimination on race, no pay difference between genders, etc. literally everyone is equal, so this adds a nice little touch like that.
Finally, I suddenly noticed that some meals were showing that they’re vegetarian friendly (they may have done that before, I’m not sure). I didn’t notice “vegetarian” as an available trait, and that is because you have to buy the City Living expansion to have a veggie sim! I would like to have the choice of making vegetarian Sims but I’m not bothered enough to buy an expansion pack for it. I guess I can just have a sim only eat the veggie options but I know that at some point when my guard is down they’ll go to the fridge and eat a whole cow or something.
About a week after I bought the game I was still going strong, baffling my other half who hadn’t actually seen me get so intensely addicted to a game before. Yes, The Sims looks boring as Hell, and watching other people play it is like watching paint dry but damn… It is so addictive and the laws of time seem to alter when you play, making 1 hour seem like 5 minutes. You sit down at 6pm just to play for an hour, you just want to get a few things done… Suddenly, not only is it now 12am but it’s 12am five days later and people have had to break into your home to see what’s happened to you.
A few weeks later I can say that I’m safely out of the Sim zone and the game has returned to its’ cave for a three year slumber where it will slowly regain power and fart out £25 expansion packs every now and again.
Are you a big Sims fan? Do you also have the strange three year addiction gap? What’s your best Sims story/mishap?