In Feb 2000, Maxis released the first version of The Sims. Thirteen years, 3 base games and almost 50 expansions later, we are now welcoming the announcement of The Sims 4.
So, what can we expect?
Looking back over the history of the franchise, each new version has built upon the capabilities of the previous one and made huge jumps graphically.
The original Sims game offered a mix of 3D and 2D graphics. While the Sims themselves were [what we then considered] 3D, the objects and the world they lived in were 2d sprites. Your Sim, without outside intervention, was either a child or an adult, no in between and no aging.
Skin tones and body sizes were tied to the hairstyle and clothes and initially, the Sims lived in isolation unless friends came to visit, although later packs introduced community lots in sub hoods.
The Sims 2
The Sims 2 boosted the graphics to a fully 3D world. You could follow your Sim from the cradle to the grave, as it introduced aging, and community lots were now part of the world. Improvements to CAS meant that the Sim’s skin tone and size was now fixed, and clothes and hairstyles could be changed without impacting these.
And, although is was still not possible to wander around the neighbourhood, Sims could eventually see their neighbours, making the world look more populated. Each lot was still it’s own save game without impact on the others, meaning that your Sim’s great granddaughter could bring home the same Sims from school as previous generations.
The Sims 3
The Sims 3 opened the world up, meaning that the neighbourhood story would progress around you – other Sims would grow up, get jobs, marry and move on. Instead of a loading screen between lots, or your Sim vanishing for a few hours to school or work, you can walk round the town with them.
CAS changes were more subtle, with sliders for skin tone and body sizes, rather than absolutes. The Sims 3 also introduced color channels, where you could change one part of the clothes/hair/object yourself in the game without affecting any of the other channels, letting your creativity go wild.
One change that a lot of players felt was a step backwards, was the introduction of rabbit hole lots – where the Sim disappeared inside to carry out the actions with limited intervention from the player.
So, Sims 4? Looking back, there are some obvious changes – from 1 to 2, we got aging, enriching your Sims’ lives, from 2 to 3 they opened the neighbourhood, allowing the story to flow alongside your Sim. From 3 to 4? Apparently still single player, offline game play, but promising to go back to the roots of the game – the Sims themselves, offering new ways to interact with other sims, and looking at their behaviours. These guys are set to be the coolest sims ever!