I have tested the Sims 4 demo for a few days now and want to share my impression with you.
Please do see it in the following context: I was never one to spend much time in CAS – not in Sims 2 and not in Sims 3. I don’t trust myself to create a look-a-like and because of this, I mostly create random Sims and edit those a bit. I do spend more time dressing them but that’s about it.
I also believe that feedback from people that know Sims 2 or 3 will look different from people that have never tried a Sims game before. We’re used to sliders and because of that the molding is completely different and needs getting used to.
The GUI is slim and does not need much space. It’s also more or less self-explanatory. Hovering with the mouse over the buttons gives you text info on what the buttons do.
I personally find the arrow buttons rather usesless since you can turn the Sims with your mouse just as well.
At the moment you can save your household through two means. My assumption is that one button is to save the household and upload it to the gallery (folder icon in the upper right corner) and the other is to save the household and return to the game (Check mark in the lower right corner).
When saving the household, I miss a error message that tells me why my household can’t be saved. Each Sim in your household needs a Name (first and last), an aspiration and at least one trait in order to be able to save it. If this is not fulfilled the missing stuff is highlighted with a red border and a exclamation mark. Since you’re looking at the the other half of the screen at the time, you don’t see that and it gives you the impression that nothing really happens at all. I hope EA comes up with a better solution for this.
All windows that open need to be closed through the little cross in the upper right corner of the windows. I personally prefer an OK button to close my windows but that’s probably a matter of taste.
The molding has a steep learning curve, especially when used to the sliders. It’s not always clear what needs pushing and pulling to get the desired effect but the whole thing is a matter of practice. I do have the feeling many are discouraged by this easily though.
I have found my way around rather fast but but I’m the create-some-random-Sim-and-edit-a-little type without trying to create someone existing. Once you figure out what you need to change in which view, you’ll get a nice looking Sim quite fast.
A Sim consists of two areas: The face and the body on which you zoom in by single-clicking on it. Unfortunately the area themselves don’t work the same way. If you click on a certain body part, all that opens is the clothing menu. If you click on the face on the other hand you’ll find menus for pre-created mouth, noses, cheeks, eyes, chins, ears and eye brows as well as head shapes. If you click double on those (like I tend to do), you end up in the detailed view of the face where you can change different stuff then when your not in detailed view. You can for example only change the width of the mouth in non-detailed view.
If you are in detailed view and double-click on a certain area, I would expect it to go to non-detailed view for that area but you actually very often end up in a completely different area (like double-clicking on the cheeks in detailed view lands you on the nose menu). I do assume that double clicking is mostly for leaving and entering detailed mode but I think it would be nice if I ended up in the correct section.
Pre-created faces and bodies as well as skin tones, tattoos and skin details can only be accessed through an extra icon. I would have found it more intuitive if those menus would open when clicking on the body/head instead of the clothing menu (or no menu when you click on the head)
I also find the range in which you can manipulate the facial features and body parts rather limiting. I would like if they’d go further. There’s also no body hair which I find a pity.
There are still quite a few menus but I think they are easier to access than in Sims 3. The menus are shown as a graphical icon only but a text is shown if you hover over them. This is completely unnecessary in most cases though since the icons are pretty self-explaining. There are main and sub-menus for face and body.
I really like the filters for clothing, hair and accessory. You can easily filter but CAS also lets you everything in every category. Next to the categories there are also filters for colors, material and style.
I find the categorizing of clothing really well made (only down side is that you can’t categorize yourself). There are five clothing categories: Everyday, Formal, Athletic, Sleep and Party. Like in Sims 3, clothing is only categorized for certain categories and not for others so there is a categorization that will probably prevent NPCs to wear their PJ to a party but if you do want your Sim to go to a party in their PJ, you are free to do so. Simly remove the filter and you’ll see all clothing available and you can assign every piece of clothing in every category.
I also like the buttons to remove stuff easily. This way you can start by removing all clothing, hair and accessory to work on a (almost) naked Sim. In Sims 3 you had to go to underwear first to see the changes on the body in the first place. A button to remove all in one go would be even nicer.
Sims 4 also lets you configure the button to randomize your Sim. This way can leave the hair but change the rest. You can of course also randomize in each filter category too.
Clothing, Hair & Accessory
Everyone has their own taste so I let everyone decide what they like.
Boots automatically adjust to the pants: Tight pants, boots go on top, wide pants, boots go underneath. This works very well and is very impressive. I wished it would work for glasses just as well. The big glasses don’t work with most hairstyles since they bleed through and they also don’t fit well on some noses. I’ve read that this is also true for some clothing but I haven’t seen that myself. I also like how you can wear hats to every hair stlye and how you can have multiple rings on one hand as long as they don’t go on the same finger.
The choice of clothing and hairstlyes is rather limited in the demo and I don’t know how that’s going to be in the final game so I’m not going to comment on that. I really hope there will be some earrings for one ear only and some really long hair. Some hair styles the devs have categorized as long are not really long in my eyes.
The gallery is the place where you save your creations and make it accessible to others.
More details can be found here: The Gallery
That stability of the gallery is tested at the moment and what I hear from others, not everything is working well. I mostly had issues with getting results to my searches. I also find it a bit strange that the system does make suggestions but only for newer items. When I search for a household I made first, I can find it but it doesn’t give me a suggestions for the it. It could be that they save search terms though and give you suggestions from that. I don’t know how it works in detail.
The search is most definitely missing a empty search button. At the moment you have to manually delete the search term and then click on the magnifying glass again to remove the search filter. It would be also nice to have more filters like for gender, aspirations or traits. Hashtags do give you a lot of possibilities though. One just needs to make use of them.
I find it really illogical that the community tab does not give me filters for my favorites or my own Sims so that I have to go through username –> View catalog to get there. That’s one button too much.
Reading on the forums it seems, people have sometimes troubles removing duplicate households from the Gallery. Sometimes the households in your library don’t have the cloud icon because you’ve only uploaded a different version and didn’t save the one you uploaded to the Gallery. This can also be the case if you uploaded the household from another computer.
Going through view catalog solves this, so I’m not sure if this is a problem of understanding how it works or if there are really problems. I’m also unsure if there’s a flaw with removing through the community tag and filtering by your Origin ID. This should also show all your uploaded households and allow you to remove them through the cloud icon on the households detailed view.
I do not think this is self-explanatory though and could be implemented better.
So far I’ve tried the Demo in three computers: A very old one, a Windows 8.1 tablet and my gaming desktop computer which is a few years old though.
The demo runs stable on both the desktop and the old laptop. It does have crashing issues on the tablet but not very often.
Specification Computer 1
- Windows 8.1 32 bit
- Intel Core Duo CPU, 2.1 GHz
- 2 GB RAM
- Nvidia Quadro NVS 140M, 112 MB dedicated RAM, outdated drivers
I have all settings on low/medium. The demo is running well with a few hiccups on the sound (I assume they come from the connection to the server). Some of the hair texture looks terrible and comparing to my desktop, they ain’t that much different. I did not have any crashes and did stay in the demo for hours. The use of RAM is at 350 MB at the moment.
The loading is fast and the menus are displayed almost instantly without delay. In the gallery I did see delays in loading only.
Changing the graphics options to ultra-high made it very very slow but it was mostly due to edge smoothing being turned on.
I mostly played in windowed-fullscreen mode.
Specification Computer 2
- Windows 8.1 32 bit
- Intel Atom (4 CPU) 1.8 GHz
- 2 GB RAM
- Intel Graphics Media Accelerator, 0 MB dedicated RAM, drivers also likely to be outdated.
Tjhe machine is a tablet computer with a touchscreen. It does come with keyboard and mouse.
This game was not made for touch screens, that’s for sure. It does at least work with touchscreen, while Origin does not work with touch screens at all and you don’t get anywhere without a moue and keyboard. Problem is though that it either reacts far to much or not at all to touches with mouse or pen and the name can only be entered via a keyboard. I did only try fullscreen mode though.
I does work ok with mouse and keyboard but I did have it crash once.
Specification Computer 3
- Windows 7 64 bit
- Intel Core I7 3.4 Ghz
- 8 GB RAM
- Nivida 550 ti, 1 GB dedicated RAM. Drivers are current
Runs very well on ultra-high. Textures still blurry on zooming in.
I like the demo. You can like the graphics or not, that is for everyone to decide for themselves. I think they look better than Sims 3 Sims do (can’t compare to Sims 2 that since I have not played that in ages).
There are a few things I would have done differently but I doubt they are going to change in the final game. I did not find any game breaking problems but I know there is a problem with the game not starting that is game breaking for many. I hope EA can fix that before the game comes out.
I have left out talking about CaST so far but here’s what I think: I don’t miss CaST itself that much (at least not in CAS) but I’m missing the color wheel everywhere. You can’t match make up to shoes and I can’t have highlights in my Sims hair other than what MAXIS gives me. Not like that at all
The buttons do what they are supposed to and the loading times are good. If loading screens take about as long, they won’t be much of an issue but how that will be with tons of extra content remains to be seen.
CAS has a steep learning curve and it’s very well possible that the molding doesn’t give the same precise results as sliders did but for me as someone who doesn’t spend hours in CAS and rather have a nice looking Sim in a matter of minutes, that is not important. I like the new possibilities that hats and the boots give you as well as the possibility to remove filters for clothing and the styled looks also give you a fast way to see results.
The stability has convinced me so far and I’m curious to see how the gallery will work once more people get to try out the demo.