Electronic Arts showcased the latest installment of Sims at E3 earlier this year, showing off the fancy new emotions system for the game… and then quietly revealing with much less fanfare a slew of dropped features. That’s not to say that EA won’t be adding these features in a future expansion pack, but don’t expect to see anything listed below when The Sims 4 ships in September.
Honestly, I’m really not too choked up about this loss since I found having them around a huge pain. My sims can’t even take care of themselves, so here I am yelling at a pile of dumb pixels to stop playing hackey-sack with the mailman and feed their starving toddler before social services took them away. But now sims jump right from the baby life stage to the child stage, skipping about five years in between, which just doesn’t seem right. As much as I disliked having to deal with toddler sims, unless babies are the new toddler state, it’s not really much of a life simulation sim if you skip the stage where you learned to walk, talk, and how to use a toilet.
This actually hits me harder than the removal of of toddlers. Pools have been in every single version of The Sims until now, and to take them out isn’t just wrong – it’s practically a sin, dishonoring the memory millions of sims who died in ladderless pools. How can I complete a mansion without a oversized swimming pool in the backyard or properly finish my castle fortress without a moat? In addition, swimwear for sims are gone from the game as well. Screenshots of Create-a-Sim show no familiar swimsuit icon in the clothes category and developers later confirmed their removal on Twitter, which would mean that hot tubs, playing in the sprinklers, or anything that requires a sim to get wet aren’t making it to the game. But I’m sure EA already has The Sims 4: Wet ‘n Wild expansion in the pipeline.
No story progression
The Sims 3 introduced story progression to the series – the idea that the sims in the neighborhood would live out their own lives in the background while you focused on your main family. They’d switch jobs, they’d get married or split up, they’d have kids, and then quietly die. There were issues, sure, and to be honest I play using a player-created story progression mod since I find EA’s lacking. But they’re taking it out of the game in The Sims 4, with sims only aging and being replaced when they die. If you want your in-game neighbors to get married, you’re going to have to load them up and play them yourselves for that to happen.
The Sims 3 also introduced a powerful customization tool that, surprise surprise, isn’t making it to The Sims 4. Create-a-Style was mindblowing when it was introduced just because of what you do with it. The ability to choose exactly how you wanted furniture and clothes to look without needing to mod the game is something I’m going to miss. Not to mention being able to pick the exact hue and color for a sim’s hair or eyes – did you want a dark-haired madam with silver streaks revealing her age as the family matron? It’s easy to create her in The Sims 3, but you’re out of luck in The Sims 4. The game does have a color palette for sims and objects, but after the insane amount of customization and control you had in the previous game, it feels like a huge step back.
No open world
But a even bigger step back is the removal of the open world, one of the biggest changes to the series in The Sims 3 and completely gone in The Sims 4. Worlds are now divided into five neighborhoods with a maximum of five lots in each neighborhood. Of course, like story progression, open world in The Sims 3 didn’t really work the way it did in the trailer. Aside from going to and from work or school, most sims in the neighborhood seemed happy enough to stay at home until someone from my household went out. Then everyone would descend on where they were visiting like some sort of creepy flash mob, lingering around awkwardly; nightclubs and bars would be completely abandoned until one of the sims I controlled showed up, and even then there’d never been a huge frolicking crowd like the one shown in the trailer. The open world of The Sims 3 felt pretty lifeless and flat, but taking it completely out of the game isn’t the answer. Even if it didn’t work as intended, I’m not looking forward to being put back in the box I was taken out of in the previous game. There’s no more school lots, work lots, or shopping lots; if sims need to go to work or school, they simply walk to the edge of the game lot and disappear. Instead of building and improving on what was already there, it really feels like that we’re being taken back to The Sims and The Sims 2 and not in a good way.
And of course, this isn’t even a proper list of cut features. There’s plenty of minor things being left out, such as height differences being removed from teens, adults, and elders, no basements or building foundations, houses limited to being only three stories tall – if it were only one or two of these not making it to the base game, maybe it wouldn’t seem so bad. I’ve come to accept that EA won’t include features like pets, weather, and going to college in the base game since it’s clear time and again that sims players like myself are willing to pay for the same expansion with each new version of the game. But it seems like they’re going a step further this time and stripping content from the base game itself; while the new Create-a-Sim looks amazing along with the new and improved building tools, I’m just a little unsure if the game will have that same amount of polish and fun when I’m done creating and start to play.
After a month of rumor and speculation, EA announced at E3 that The Sims 4 will finally be in stores on September 2. Originally slated to be released in early 2014 when revealed at Gamescom 2014, the game was delayed for the Fall 2014 quarter. The Sims 4 changes how Sims act with each other and their world, and how they interact with us. Sims’ personalities and actions are now influenced by their emotions, allowing players to create weird Sims and even weirder stories.
With over 150 million Sims games sold over fourteen years, The Sims 4 is expected to give us deeper, more complex Sims.
With Tomodachi Life, the comparison to Animal Crossing is inevitable. They do seem remarkably similar to one another at first glance, both games being town life simulations. But I’m pleased to say that Tomodachi Life manages to shine on its own merits.
When you start Nintendo’s life simulation game, you’re asked to create a Mii character that will be your very first islander and an avatar that’s based on you, with everyone else calling you their look alike. You’re able to create a personality and even give your Mii their very own unique voice, adjusting their pitch, tone, and even how fast or slowly they speak to your liking. When populating the island with more Miis, you have the choice of creating them from scratch, importing them from Miimaker, or snapping a photo of someone’s Mii-generated QR code. Special Miis that visit through Spotpass can be added to the island by saving the Mii to Miimaker and they’ll retain their shiny gold pants. And yes, it is possible to have an island completely populated by Shaquille O’Neal, if that’s your sort of thing.
The real meat of the game is interacting with the islanders themselves. They’ll get hungry and ask you to for food, decide they’d like a new outfit or hat, and even ask you to play a game with them. Sometimes they’ll have a little cloud raining on them when they’re feeling sick or if they’re feeling down about something. Solving their problems and winning their games will have your islanders giving you gifts that can be passed on to other islanders that will allow you to dye their hair or travel to China. They’ll also hand out gifts that you can sell to the pawn shop so you can continue to feed and clothe your islanders. In addition, giving them gifts that they like will level up their happiness, unlocking items they can use around the island like skateboards and hula-dancing manuals, or even teach them a customized song or catchphrase.
Your islanders can fall in love, marry, and have children, but they can also get rejected and fall into a depressive funk. It’s up to you try to decide if you want to help or simply wait for them to snap out of it. As an added feature to Mii relationships, their offspring can either stay on the island or travel to other people’s games. Miis ask you to help them reach out and befriend their neighbors and for advice on whether or not they should romantically pursue a Mii. It’s definitely possible to create a love triangle between Miis, leading to a love confession dramatically interrupted by a third party and for someone to pick between the two suitors.
Of course, there’s a major flaw: there’s really not much to the game aside from playing with your Miis and solving their problems. When they’re perfectly happy, there’s nothing you can do aside from shop and wait for someone to decide that they’re going to propose to their boyfriend or girlfriend. Tomodachi Life is one of those games that are better off being played in small daily doses. The game can also be painfully boring late at night when your Miis start going to bed, although one or two may decide to stay up all night. While you can still interact with sleeping Miis – peeking into their surreal dreams and drawing on their sleeping faces – it’s just not as interesting as watching them go about their lives.
That said, Tomodachi Life is a quirky life simulation game that has plenty of character and humor, and definitely worth checking out if you’re a fan of Animal Crossing or similar games. It definitely could be improved in some areas, but Tomodachi Life is a solid game that’s worth playing and I hope we’ll be seeing more in the future.
Final Score: 4/5
The International Data Corporation (IDC) is preparing to publish its 73-page report of its latest console forecast, and predicts that the Playstation 4 will dominate the eighth console generation by selling 51 million units by 2016. However, Microsoft’s Xbox One is expected to take the lead in North America once it unbundles the Kinect hardware from the console, allowing Microsoft to offer a competitively priced version against the Playstation 4. Nintendo’s Wii U is expected to receive a $50 world-wide price cut, but is not predicted to make a dent against competing consoles.
The IDC also predicts that the gaming industry will continue to see declines in hardware and physical disc sales. Eighth generation consoles are expected to earn about 10 percent less from hardware and disc-based games than the seventh generation consoles (Xbox 360, PS3, Wii) combined. The IDC forecasts that 45 percent fewer discs will be sold to retailers in comparison to the seventh generation, although console hardware revenue is projected to rise above the previous generation due to the higher average selling prices.
While physical disc sales are expected to drop considerably, the digital market will continue to grow and keep the industry healthy, with rising digital revenue forecast to counter the drop in disc-based sales. More than 50 percent of total game and app/service spending are expected to come through digital channels by 2019. With the inclusion of digital console game spending, subscription revenue, and other digital purchases, eighth generation console revenue is expected to match the seventh generation’s physical hardware and software sales.
The IDC’s report, Worldwide Video Game and Entertainment Console Hardware and Packaged Software 2014-2018 Forecast, will be published later this week.
Things aren’t looking so good for Nintendo at the moment. They’re expecting a net loss of 25 billion yen for the year, which converts into $240 million US dollars, due to poor Wii U sales. Even though it’s been out for a year longer than its competitors, the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, the Wii U has only just sold five million units. In the meantime, Sony’s announced that the PS4 – which, I should remind you, was released half a year ago – has already sold more than seven million units.
Don’t worry; Nintendo’s not going to collapse on itself. With the success of the Wii and the 3DS from the past few years, the company can stand a major hit like this for now. But unless they do something soon, they’re going to be left in the dust by Sony and Microsoft showing off their newer, shinier toys. With E3 around the corner, there are a few ways Nintendo can grab everyone’s attention from Sony and Microsoft.
Price drop on both 3DS XL & Wii U
While the Wii U is still the cheapest out of the three systems at $300, slashing the price by fifty bucks or even a hundred would make the Wii U about half as much as what Microsoft and Sony are offering. Right now the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One go for $400 and $500 respectively. A price drop on the 3DS XL would also draw attention back to the handheld console as well as give it an edge over the PlayStation Vita. Currently, they’re both retailing for the same price at $200.
Better online network
There’s no arguing about it, the online structure for the Wii U and 3DS is still a bit clunky. Sure we have Nintendo Network IDs now, and that was a big improvement, but it’s still lacking in user interface, compared to the PlayStation Network and Xbox Live.
Okay, I’m going to be honest: I personally don’t care for Achievements and Trophies. But you can bet that I’m going to try to get everything, even if it ends in me gnawing my own hands off in frustration. Nintendo hasn’t jumped onto the achievement system bandwagon with the 3DS and Wii U, although that doesn’t stop some games from coming with their own in-game badges and rewards. I’m not sure why Nintendo’s been dragging their feet on this issue; even I’ve given up and accepted that achievements are the future.
Facts of life: the sky is blue, water is wet, and there will always be a new Pokemon game. Oh, and let’s not forget to add a new Mario, Zelda, or Metroid title to that list. You can’t deny that you’re more likely to hear about a sequel or another spinoff of an established franchise. A lot of companies seem to be playing it safe by sticking to tried-and-true formulas, and with the expected net loss, Nintendo might be reluctant to try exploring new IPs. But taking the risk and going for something new, unique, and fun is how we’ve gotten such crazy classics as Pikmin or Katamari Damacy.
Announce a new game for an existing IP4
But to go ahead and completely contradict my last point, you have to admit: announcing a new Zelda or Mario game would get people excited. Nintendo has a vast library of franchises that are beloved classics and are pretty much guaranteed to drum up excitement and hype. But what I really hope is that Nintendo explores some different genres for established characters, instead of staying with the same old formula. We all need something different – I don’t know how many hours I’ve spent on games like Pokemon Snap and Super Mario RPG, just because they quite weren’t like anything else.
What do you think? Would any of these make you excited? What would you like to see from Nintendo at this year’s E3?