1. Endless possibilities
With the ability to tweak every tiny detail, you can make any Sim you imagine. At any point in the Sim creation process, you can grab a part of their body and move or resize it (even their feet), and you can zoom in to edit more fine details on the face. It seems like the possibilities are endless, and we are already seeing a huge variety of very different looking Sims appearing.
2. Fast loading, smooth running
Your results may vary, but on a decent PC that actually struggled with TS3 with every expansion pack, we found the CAS demo loads really fast and runs really smoothly.
We’ve had “categories” in Sims games before, but this time around we have “filters”, which are way better. The filters work on a “tag” system, so a simple t-shirt might be tagged as “green”,”cotton”,”everyday” and “basics”. It seems as though any clothing item can have an unlimited number of tags – so we hope that should mods and custom content make their way into our games, modders use the tags responsibly!
Filter by “black” and “formal” in the dresses category to find the perfect little black dress. Also note that when you filter by colour, the game will automatically select the clothes in that colour for the thumbnail, to help you choose what you’re looking for.
4. Any outfit for any occasion
All of the clothes in the demo are available for any of your Sim’s outfits – everyday, formal, sports, sleep, and party (note: it seems that you can assign up to 5 different outfits for each outfit type). When you first click onto an outfit type, for example formal, the demo applies a filter for “formal”, but you can remove that filter to see all the clothes and choose from everything.
5. The gallery shows real promise
It’s really easy and quick to browse other users’ creations in the gallery. You can filter your results in the gallery by people you’re “following” only, by Maxis staff only, or show everything. So if you have some favourite creators, you can follow them and quickly see all their creations in the gallery. A really quick click of a button adds the family to your library.
Also, if someone downloads a creation, modifies it, and re-uploads it to the gallery, the original creator is still listed. Given that we can expect a similar system to be used for sharing rooms online, this is very promising, and hopefully it means that if someone grabs a room and makes it a bit bigger then reuploads it, the original creator of the room is still credited.
6. Clean interface
The interface is uncluttered, and for the most part very intuitive to use. It’s pretty much click the bit you want to edit, choose an option, and repeat. There isn’t any irrelevant junk getting in your way as you edit.
7. Quickly, take those glasses off!
This is a small detail but a useful one. In The Sims 3, in order to remove an accessory, you had to hunt through the whole list of accessories to find it. Now there’s a simple ‘X’ button on the accessories, and on each subcategory of accessories, to remove everything in that category. These buttons also exist for tops, full body clothing (eg. dresses), bottoms, shoes and tattoos. Take it all off!
8. Lovely textures and lots of colours
We love the look of the clothes and hair, and in many ways the “loss” of create-a-style probably made this look possible. Although we can’t customise everything to the extent we could in TS3, the clothes do have multiple colour options and we don’t think you’ll miss create-a-style as much as you might think.
9. Hats go on top of hair
This shouldn’t be revolutionary, but it sure feels that way! Whatever hair style you choose, you select a hat separately and, get this, the hat… goes on top of the hair. Depending on the hat it may affect the hairstyle in different ways, but it’s no longer like in TS3 where you might struggle to find a hairstyle with a hat that matches the one without the hat. Hurrah!
10. Bum chins!
When you click on a part of the face to edit it, check the gallery on the right before you start editing. Different eye styles with different lengths of eyelashes and styles of eyelids are available as starting points. These starting points seem to sometimes add extra texture to the face that can’t be added manually, even in detail edit mode. Among these wonderful options are bum chins – chins with a little dimple in the middle. There are a few slightly different ones, which all in all means that for the first time Sims can have bum chins too (without custom content).
While we’re loving the demo, there are always going to be a few things that we think need improvement. Here’s our wishlist:
More hair colours in the “natural” tones
While there are plenty of wild hair colours to choose from, the “natural” range is pretty limited. For brunettes, there’s nothing between a fairly dark brown and golden blonde, so if you have mousey brown hair like mine, your colour isn’t in the game. Similarly with eye colours, there’s a limited range and nothing really like a hazel colour.
Where did that thingy go again?
Although the interface is largely self-explanatory, it’s easy to forget where the “basics” are hidden – you have to click the plumbob in the top left corner to edit walk styles, voice and relationships.
You have to give a Sim traits in order to save it (as I found out to my detriment the first day I had the demo – I thought I had saved a Sim but I hadn’t because they had no traits…). But there isn’t a quick option to just assign random traits like there was in TS3. Although we’ve provided an online tool to generate random traits, this obviously is not as convenient as being able to do it in the game.
Custom content tool
Although the colour options provided are great, you do occasionally find yourself thinking “I wish I could have that top in purple”. We’d love to see a custom content tool, similar to BodyShop for The Sims 2, which allows people with some basic image editing knowledge to make some extra recolours for themselves… and of course, which allows talented custom content artists to make beautiful new clothes.
But all in all…?
All told, we love what the demo is showing us. It’s fast, it’s got a slick interface, the clothes are pretty, and there’s lots of little details (probably plenty we haven’t found yet too). We’re hopeful for a few little improvements, and for custom content, but creating Sims is, basically, easy in The Sims 4. Now we just need to wait until September to let all these freaks out into the world.