Available on: Microsoft Windows, macOS, PlayStation 4 & Xbox One
Released: September 2, 2014
I recently found myself with more time on my hands (the reason why we all know so no need to get into that). But I was left wondering what I would do with all these free hours. Unlike many people out there my interest in video games is minimal at best and although I’d try my hand at a few, my attention span quickly grows weary of them. Thinking back to my younger years and how I spent my non school days it hit me, the Sims!!! Oh what a wonderful way to make time disappear, I used to stay up all night causing chaos in their lives, building both realistic and completely unrealistic things, creating generations upon generations of one family and oh so much more!
Excited by my reminiscing, I decided to download the Sims 4. At first I was delighted at my new and shiny purchase but the more I played, the more issues started rearing their ugly heads. The game play had been so dramatically changed from Sims 3 that I felt like I didn't even know this version of my much beloved video game. After a few hours of playing I could face no more and stopped. All my reminiscing had built up a craving that the Sims 4 didn’t satisfy so I ended up downloading the Sims 2 complete collection for free, suddenly I felt like a kid in a candy shop. So deliriously happy yet almost overwhelmed by all the possibilities. I didn't know where to start, this was more like what I had been looking for! I spent hours (possibly days if you added them up) playing my favorite game. Yet technology was not my friend and this download continuously caused me problems. I lost my saved data multiple times, which destroyed a small bit of my soul, as an avid builder I'd made an entire community from scratch. But this wasn’t the worst part, the computer started glitching and at one point I couldn’t even start the computer properly. As much as I enjoyed the Sims 2 I couldn’t risk the entire computer for it. At this point it was decided the best thing to be done was resetting the computer to its factory settings and saying goodbye to Sims 2, along with all my hard work.
So once again I was back to square one, however playing the Sims 2 had reinvigorated me to re-try the Sims 4. This time I decided to try some of the expansion packs as the freedom I had enjoyed previously was mainly due to the addition of new and unusual content. Thanks to EA loving money, these were no longer simply broken into two types. Now there were three; expansion, game and stuff packs. I was a bit unsure of spending up to €40 on an expansion pack alone. Until I saw their deals, for the same money I could get one of each of their packs. For my first expansions I did no research and just went purely for the packs which in other versions I felt had added the most to my gameplay in other versions. So here is a small breakdown of the packs I added:
Expansion Pack 1: Cats and Dogs
Animals have always been one of my favorite elements due to my love of dogs, having a pet has always been a big plus for me. In Sims 4 pets are npc’s (non-playable characters) this in my opinion takes a bit away from this. That’s right you can’t control the cats and dogs . You can still praise and discourage their behaviour, which is quite heavily based on their traits. I can see the argument that this element makes your pets a bit more “real”. I don't know about you dear reader but for me the Sims isn't about being exactly like our world, it’s more about the escape from it into a world where you can control (almost) everything that happens. The pets are still quite entertaining through their presence alone, along with being able to teach them tricks etc. An extra part to this has been added through the obstacle courses which you can run with your put and the ability to take them for walks/jogs.
The addition of pets to your household is similar enough to previous versions; you can adopt a pet by using a phone/computer or make a personalised cat/dog in create a Sim:
Adopting a pet - The main difference with Sims 4 and previous versions (and I found this quite cool) is that you can meet said pet before deciding to adopt it. With a friendly neighbourhood council worker coming to your house with the animal. Here you can interact with the cat/dog for a bit before deciding to adopt them.
Create a pet - is similar enough to previous versions with a bit more freedom having been added. What people can do with this extra freedom is quite cool. I’ve seen a huge variety of beings, from Tigers to Racoons, these look amazing but are basically the same at their core. There are a few more varied outfits for the pets which is also a nice addition.
Aside from this you have the usual pet specific objects that you can purchase from pet beds to food bowls, there's all the main things needed to care for your pet. The pack also comes with a variety of new objects for your house in the form of beds, tables, chairs, couches etc. giving you a nice addition to any house. To be fair to EA there is quite a good bit of these. As well as a few new hairstyles and clothes for your Sims.
This pack adds a new world called “Bridleton Bay”. This location has the usual of a few new families and community lots to hang out in. A random thing that can be found in this world is a Pet cemetery, which is quite eerie. This can be found on “Deadgrass Isle” one of the few actually wanderable places in Sims 4. It is hidden on the left side (on the opposite side of the island to the fishing grounds), hidden among the trees. Aside from being a bit creepy and sad, there is no real interaction with the graves themselves so it’s more for the novelty that it’s interesting.
The only real other thing of note for this expansion is the addition of Vets. Being able to bring your sick dog to get healed or the ability to neuter your pets which can be quite handy (depending on your pet). You can also own one of these as a business which honestly I haven’t really explored this too much. At these locations you can also buy treats for your pets which will put them into a different mood. This can come in very handy plus it’s nice to treat your pet.
All in all I found the pack to be fun but missing something through the inability to control pets directly. It still adds nice touches to the game though. One final note you can also get market stalls where traders sell cooked foods and fresh fish. You will however have to pay someone to man these stalls (not sure if this is worth many Simoleons to your household as I haven’t felt the need to try them without having a proper business expansion pack).
Game Pack 1: Vampires
I know it’s a bit cheesy but I have always loved this type of pack (I blame being a teenage girl during Twilight’s hay day). In all seriousness though having the ability to fly around as a bat or ‘drink’ your fellow Sims energy away has always been quite entertaining to me. The added element of having a Sim that has issues being out in sunlight gives your Vampire a much needed break from the normal every day Sim. This pack edits the usual needs of your Sim. As a Vampire, they now have Vampire energy which gets recharged by sleeping or meditation (it’s basically your normal sleep bar) however it doesn't get very drained by your Vampire being awake, the real drain on this is using your new abilities.
These abilities vary depending on your choices. A Vampire Sim has a few new interactions with Sims, these grow by studying Vampire lore. This is one way to build up your “Vampire Rank”, this rank is what allows you to add powers to your Vampire. Here I have to give credit to the Sims 4. As not only does your Vampire gain perks but they also gain weakness’. So you have the option to stop your Vampire Sim from being affected by sunlight however they will only be able to sleep in coffins (which got annoying fast for me). For every new rank your Vampire gains you will be given the option to choose new abilities, when you pick this you will also have to select a weakness (see below for a look at all the options). At first I was a bit unsure of this addition however upon a few hours of play I actually quite enjoyed it as it creates flaws in their character which stops them from being ridiculously o.p (over powered) beings. The less fun side effect however is that some of these conflict with each other.
Again EA is quite generous in their additions to the overall game. There is the addition of the obvious Vampire centric items (e.g. coffins) but you get given a gothic style which gives you new beds, chairs, couches and much more. For hairstyles and Sims clothings there are also quite a few new items (obviously not quite as much as you get in an expansion pack but also not a whole lot less). The other nice touches for this pack in create a Sims mode is that there are a few different types of Vampire teeth and a few new eye colors. Another notable addition is that your Sim will now have an almost split persona where you have a vampiric and not Vampire version of your Sim.
Sims 4 Vampires also has a new neighbourhood called “Forgotten Hollow”. Here is where the difference between the types of packs becomes a bit more apparent. The neighbourhood is considerably smaller, consisting of three Vampire families, an empty house and a vacant lot. It has a dark aesthetic which you would associate with Vampires however being outside can still burn up and kill a Vampire Sim (did this by accident to one of them and was slightly taken aback as i figured a Vampire town would give them a bit more freedom but apparently not). I also wish they had included a community lot as it would've been cool to see what a Vampire hang out would be like.
Stuff Pack 1: Bowling Night
As with all previous stuff packs not much is added to the actual game play however as the name suggests you do get stuff. When I originally looked at all my options I could not decide so I eventually went for the one that I thought would add the most to my pre-existing game. The bowling pack was a pleasant surprise, as I wasn't expecting much (Sims 2 taught me that stuff packs can be a bit lacking).
This pack also gives you new hairstyles and clothes for your Sims. There is a lot less however I really enjoyed the 1950’s style that is added with this pack. Obviously this pack is very specific to the name and all the objects added are things linked with a bowling alley. The new couches, lights etc are all quite a nice touch as they were much brighter colours (neon, woo!) than the other packs had added to my game. Bowling itself is quite entertaining to watch and is a legit skill. I still haven't fully tested what can be done with this as I generally only went to the alleys for dates.
Sims 4 (So-Same)
After all is said and done, I admit Sims 4 was and is a bit of a let down at first. However as with previous versions of the Sims, the packs add a lot to the game. My first 3 packs gave me a lot of entertainment and helped me grow to appreciate the newest version of my beloved game. If you are similar to myself and are a bit hesitant to spend too much money on a version of the game that may soon be old, chances are EA will surely be teasing Sims 5 once squeezed out a few more additions. I suggest going for one of their pack deals. It is definitely the best value for money and lets you add a good few new additions to your game. Another thing I found helpful was researching the packs, this is something I have since done for my other purchases and through it I have managed to find extra content which I have gotten a lot more out of. A youtuber I found quite informative, yet not too serious is “LGR”. I won't lie, some of his videos have actually made me laugh quite a bit and prevented me from making purchases which I definitely wouldn't have gotten as much joy out of.
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