The problem with “The Sims 4” (Electronic Arts, for PC, $59.99) is that after nearly 15 years, “Sims” fans are keenly aware of EA’s business model of later releasing a dozen expansion packs. It’s been a successful formula for the quirky life simulator series, one that now feels cruelly antiquated in the era of downloadable instant gratification.
Despite that monumental deficiency, this “Sims” is remarkably more intuitive at the start. The developers at Maxis have made it easier than ever to get a household up and running by introducing streamlined tools to craft dysfunctional virtual cartoons, as well as build their homes. The controls are totally fluid, whether you want to stretch a Sim’s waistline or living room.
Unlike their predecessors, this breed of smarter, more emotional Sims are able to multitask and strive for various aspirations, ranging from finding a soulmate to becoming a best-selling author. When big aspirations are achieved or more simple whims are fulfilled, Sims are now granted points for much-needed rewards, like the ability to skip meals or get promoted more quickly at work.
It would be awesome — if it all flawlessly worked. In my review copy of “Sims 4,” I ran into many unforgiveable glitches, such as Sim babies resembling Freddy Kruger and Sims awkwardly swapping chairs while gathered around a table. In one instance, a bizarre Rip Van Winkle goof caused all of my neighbors to age faster when I wasn’t controlling them. They later died.
That last bug was enough to drive me to scream Simlish — the game’s goofy language — at my laptop. With such snags and so many features introduced in the previous three entries left out this time, there’s an unshakeable feeling while playing “The Sims 4” that even though the Sims have evolved, something still isn’t quite right about them, and it ain’t just their dishpan hands.
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GAME: The Sims 4
REVIEWER’S RATING: 2 out of 4 stars
PUBLISHER: Electronic Arts
GENRE: Life simulation
ESRB RATING: T