I have been playing The Sims since the beginning. I have seen it all. My type of Sims playing is domination through generation building, improvement on self, and originally an outlet for letting off steam, usually via murder and torture of my Sims. Here is how The Sims evolved or sometimes, didn’t.
The first generation of the 15 year old simulation game. It was very basic and unsophisticated in CAS what with not having a family tree option and no real way to bond sims except in-game. There were 3 skin choices: light, medium, and dark. The faces were pre-made and all outfits were full ensembles, however there was a option to edit them in a separate program. You could write bios for your sims, but there was no awareness in the game, you just had to play them as you intended. You could pretend your sims were bonded (like when playing dolls), but if you wanted them to really be so you had to marry them and make them procreate in game. The problem with that was although you could, “play” in bed, you could have a baby simply by getting really close to and affectionate with a sim. The option, “have a baby” came up and voila, you had a baby in a bassinet. You could only do three things with a child to care for them and when it cried you had no way of knowing what they actually wanted out of the three options. After a few days they would age up to child and there they would be forever. There was no aging in The Sims. And as the faces were pre-made and not adjustable, you got the same logic for children. So a bittersweet aspect of The Sims was that looks did not matter. There was a selection of jobs for the adults with promotions. The children went to school and could be sent to military school if they were a discipline case, and thus you never saw them again. The expansion packs would eventually inspire those for the next two generations of The Sims. They had a lot to do and many options coming with them. The Sims had very simple animation and it originated the loading screen for every transition. The Sims was basic enough that it could be played on a Windows 98 and older. It did not get lost to better technology either, it can still be played on computers at least as advanced as Windows Vista.
The Sims 2
This second generation was welcomed because of its advance in animation, aging options, and my personal favorite, the cheating options. The Sims 2 was very cartoony, yet still more dimensional than that rather flat The Sims. You now could have babies, toddlers, children, teens, adults, and elders. With The Sims 2 University Life you could have young adults, which was probably what inspired that option appearing in later generations. In CAS you can only create toddler and up, but if you had the baby in the game it would start as an infant. You could now bond your sims in CAS with the use of a family tree. It was an improvement to The Sims and until the next generation there seemed to be no downside to its sophistication. You could bond parents, grandparents, siblings, children, and married couples. Or leave them unrelated to start from an earlier time in their relationships. You couldn’t do any Anna Nicole Smith/Mrs. Robinson stuff except in the game itself if you marry an elder to an adult. Or a young adult could date an adult whilst in college. But technically you could have done that in The Sims by mating a gray haired sims with a natural haired sim, but only in-game. Anyone teen and younger had to be bound to an adult sim, you could not leave them “unsupervised.” And like The Sims, all must have the same last name. So you might as well ignore the fact that your sims you created to start from dating and onward had the same surname. Unless you made the two separately, to each their own. The Sims 2 came with default neighborhoods, you get to pick from a selection screen and each one would need to load. If you did not want any of those options, you could create your own neighborhood. There was a long list of palates, and you could place houses, lots, locations, landscape and geographic options. There were separate worlds for university (new to The Sims at that point), vacations, and a city life. There was a job option selection like before, but teens can get jobs too, they were watered down versions of certain adult jobs (less promotional value). You could hire a nanny to watch the babies, toddlers, and children. The kids could either go to public school or a private school that you had to earn a place in. In the Sims 2 the women went through pregnancies. However whilst pregnant they could not work, which is not realistic. They could have either one child at a time or twins on occasion. The Sims 2 had one aspect that never reappeared in later generations (can’t imagine why), cut videos. Like it was more of a video game, every major event got a pre-generated video with your sims inserted like first kisses, woohoos, proposals, weddings, aging up, alien abductions, going to college and graduating, etc. While it was good for those who made sim videos to get some expertly filmed inserts, you could not skip over them unless a non playing character had initiated the act and that would eliminate the video option. The Sims 2 introduced monsters: Vampires, Werewolves, PlantSims, and Witches. The funny thing was that you could be turned into more than one of the creatures. Imagine being both a vampire and a plantsim? You couldn’t survive in sunlight or darkness. To be turned you had to befriend someone in that genus and they would turn you. Plantsims could be turned from what appeared to be poisoning from fertilizer fumes, and non playing character vampires may get the jump on your sims and turn them without your say. It was more like a curse that way really, even as annoying as that could be. The Sims 2 introduced Apartments into the Sims world which was a different kind of play. You could only edit so much of your apartment’s construction but you could have families you control throughout the building and you could switch in between pretty well. You had rent, you had loud neighbors, and you had witches. Kind of random, but whatever. Good, Neutral, or Evil witches, outfits, aura, and skin tone correlated. And lastly the best thing about The Sims 2 that put it leagues ahead of the other generations, the cheats! The Sims 2 originated the ever evolving boolprop cheat. As Sims 3 and 4 came out the actual wording of the cheat changed. In the Sims 2 you could obtain the Tombstone of Life and Death through the boolprop cheat and with that you could be even more of a god than you were before. Like, immaculate conception for example. You could impregnate both female and male sims without sex OR any connection. So it’s not like The Sims where just being close could make a baby option arise. You could force twins in a pregnant person. You could make sims be abducted by aliens. You could gain people and items you wanted that were hard to get, however that sometimes ruined your game. The sims you summoned would disappear yet still take up a place in your 8 max family. The best thing about the Tombstone of Life and Death was the death. You could kill a sim just like that using any of the options for death like burning alive, being electrocuted, drowning, dying of old age. Or some of my personal favorites, death by satellite crash or being swarmed by locusts. For those simmers who are closeted homicidal maniacs, this was heaven.
The Sims 3
Some people had difficulty taking to this generation of Sims at first, because it seemed confusing at first, but then when we had the hang of it we appreciated what The Sims 3 had to offer. There were less loading screens, an open world concept where you could go anywhere in the world you were in without having to transition. That was particularly annoying previously, especially when all you actually wanted to do was go across the street! The animation of The Sims 3 was not flat like The Sims or cartoony like The Sims 2, it was more dimensional. You could now create young adults along with the other options from The Sims 2. And unlike The Sims 2, in The Sims 3 you could connect Sims as more than just married if you wanted them together. They could be boyfriend/girlfriend or fiance(e). That made things more flexible and optionable. You also could change the colors and patterns of the clothing if you did not like what was offered as default. The skin was on a spectrum toggle instead of a few options. As before there were a selection of jobs for teens and adults. The jobs were mostly regular, but there were a few part time options, which was what the teens could do. You could also be self-employed in areas like art, gardening, fishing, inventing, and being in a band. There were some interactive jobs that you could go with them and make them do certain tasks like firefighter, private eye, day care worker, and ghost hunter. In the Sims 3 you not only could have twins, but triplets by chance. You could make it more likely with a aspiration award that made you “more fertile.” Just like The Sims 2, pregnant women could not work. And a downside to perhaps having several children in a short time, your sims would accrue vacation days that they couldn’t get out of, so they could hardly get back to work without quitting their job and getting another one/getting the same one back (with any progress lost). Essentially it was hard to be a working mom on The Sims 3 unless you made all of her children in CAS. But unlike The Sims where babies appeared and The Sims 2 where you had a cut video to show the birthing (where the baby still essentially just appeared), your Sims could now go to the hospital to give birth. But you could not go in and see the spectacle. The Sims 3 had many buildings that were what are called rabbit holes where your sims go in, and eventually come out, but you don’t see what happens (because nothing does, they just go poof). Some buildings you could go in and interact. But not all. You can change Sims names at the courthouse if you don’t like their first name or you didn’t want them to take their spouse’s name when they married or if you want your sim child to have the last name of the other parent, etc. Like the Sims 2, The Sims 3 had monsters, but they now included fairies, genies, and ghosts. The ghosts could be a variety of colors related to how they died, including death by jelly beans (diabeetus?). Witches now studied alchemy and could sell their potions and buy ingredients in a supernatural consignment store. There were two problems with The Sims 3, one that only affected some players, and one that affected many. The first was that there was a glitch with pets that made them poorly rendered. Not fuzzy or anything, but deformed or black shadows. It took the fun out of pets. I played on both Windows Vista and Windows 10, both had pet malfunctions. A bigger malfunction of The Sims was that of all four generations, it was the most glitchy. It would shut down on you at times, not save your progress always, black out on you and come back darker tinted to the point that you could not see, or have issues when running on high graphics. Those problems are very frustrating. While a simmer could deal with not having pets, it the other malfunctions were not okay at all. I learned that not only running the games at lower graphics would help, but not playing in full screen to avoid the blacking out. However when it came to the shutting down randomly and losing progress, you just had to remember to save and restart the game frequently. I have read that many simmers had trouble with those glitches, but I’ve experienced that Windows 10 handles the game better than anything prior to it. The Sims 3 had the most jobs, variety of locations, options for families to that date, and the first real online community for downloading extras and sharing your work. Yet the issues it had required patience and craftiness.
The Sims 4
The Sims 4 improved on what was bad about the prior Sims generations. However, it did not equal or surpass what was good about the prior Sims generations. In CAS you can bond children to parents who are not connected, making a more single parents option from the beginning. You could really edit the features of the Sims, which made making a real person a lot easier. You no longer had to pick between a haircut or a hat. Pick any hair, and the hat could go atop. Clothing meshed better, such as high boots went over tight pants instead of scrambling awkwardly graphics wise. You can now have transgender sims. Either sims that look entirely like the gender they were meant to be, but you can have a trans man still be able to have kids like a trans man who kept his female reproductive organs. Trans women could still impregnate others. You could even have an option of your sims not being able to have kids. Since accidental pregnancies is still not a thing on The Sims you could just abstain from try for baby when you woohoo, but some people may want it more official. You could bond your Sims a little more flexibly. Not only can two people be parents of a child without being connected themselves, but you could have elders be parents of children and adults be parents of young adults. You can choose a walk for them along with a voice, the latter being introduced in The Sims 3. You no longer can toggle skin, but you have a wider selection of skin options than The Sims and The Sims 2. In-game you can either build a home and buy a home like before, but you can use pre-made rooms much like in The Sims 3 with the blueprint option. When it comes to making a family, the pregnant sims can finally work while pregnant. And they do not need to take vacation days if they do not want to. To find out if you are pregnant you can take a pregnancy test. And after you have had the baby a mother can chose to bottle or breast feed, which is just fun. Teens can “mess around” in bed and other woohoo locations. They cannot get pregnant though. The teens have their own jobs that no one else can have (would be nice though) such as babysitter, barista, and manual labor (essentially construction). It is a lot easier to make homes with foundations and basement (no choosing between or awkward arranging). You can pull walls around to arrange them, delete selections such as the ground to have open underground areas. You can do more roof shaping as well along with different height walls with their own window and door sizing to match. You can switch seamlessly through the neighborhoods and use the gallery (online community) back and forth while playing. The online community is even better than the one in The Sims 3, you cannot get specific items, but you can find and trade houses, rooms, and sims like ones made in memory of real people You can easily transfer your creations into the gallery and other’s work into your game. The Sims 4 has some more cheating options than The Sims 3, but not more than The Sims 2. The cheats include progressing pregnancy immediately to labor, forcing multiple babies at once (as many as you have room in is the limit), you can change the size of items, and give sims skills instantly. The Sims 4 removes the glitches of The Sims 3. It runs much better. The interactive sims jobs give you the option of going with them on certain days, and you can go into the hospital to see a baby born. However, it’s a joke. They still do not give birth like real life. They are put in a tubular CAT-scan like machine that uses robot arms to extract a heart (shaped heart) and whatever else, and then the baby appears in the dad’s hands. That machine is used for ALL medical procedures in the hospital. You would hope that as the latest it would be the best, but as I said at the beginning, it does not do better on what was good before. You can only pair couples by marriage, no more dating or engaged. You cannot change the colors of the clothing if you do not like the default options. There are very few aspiration and trait options at this point (with all current Sims 4 expansions, game and stuff packs), but you can always change your aspiration with no progress lost or difficult arranging if you grow tired of what you have, but the other options do not inspire much. There are not nearly as many job options, which is why it would be nice if adults could do the teen jobs as well, just to have more. The Sims 4 deaths take a lot more patience and chance. It’s like EA wants to curb our homicidal tendencies or something. Even drowning is harder to achieve, even when fencing them in and not helping their needs. The death options are numerous, like dying by woohoo (extreme exertion), extreme anger, extreme laughter, rocket ship crash, and others. But those mostly happen by chance. When it comes to making families you can no longer have toddlers. Why? No one knows, EA won’t give us a reasonable answer. You can age up your baby seconds after it is home and it goes right to child. And taking care of your baby is back to the original Sims drawing board with just a few care options and you have to guess which one the baby needs. Before the patch update that included nannies, your babies were whisked off to “daycare” when you went to work which was fine really. The bigger problem was that if you missed a care moment with your baby the child protective services would take them, and you know if you play with sounds turned down and your baby is not always with you, you don’t always know when you are needed. The original Sims was too long ago for me to remember the old trick: never leave your baby’s side till they age up! I don’t see why EA thought it was a good idea to go back to that, if it were with the intent to be realistic, wouldn’t they have a option for other sims to call in reports to authorities about your bad parenting? How would child protective services know otherwise? Poor choice there EA. When you marry sims, they keep their maiden names. While that is not a problem if you want to keep your name, it isn’t really a choice unless you edit it in CAS. the graphics in The Sims 4 have gone back to The Sims 2 cartoony look. And even when you mix sims dna to make a child, there are only so many faces the child gets regardless. If you have an interracial couple the mixing of DNA is not very mixed. You can have a child not much darker than the lighter skinned parent and not look remotely like they are black. Both the Sims 3 and 4 have a weird thing where the babies and children have the same default face and do not start to look different till teenhood and up. The only thing defined before teenhood is facial bone (more so the jaw and cheeks than anything). I do not get it. Even with The Sims 4 having more options to shape and form body features, the animation and options for the features get very boring very fast. The cartoony look of The Sims 4 is worse than The Sims 2. The biggest problem with the Sims 4 is that EA has been very sluggish with releasing expansions. Only two expansions and three game packs, but dozens of stuff packs that sell for 10 bucks and maybe have one or two good things in them. They could easily be patch updates. There is now going to be a new expansion on November 1st 2016, it will have a lot to make up for.
While The Sims 4 has been a bit meh, the games have endured throughout time and if the latest generation improves, we may see more or it may finally die. Some simmers find contentment playing the earlier games and do not need Sims 4. The Sims 4 is finally getting a new expansion in November, hopefully it will be worth it. While Sims 4 has made generations building less fun and throughout the generations death has not been so swift, I still like to live out different realities and universes in the game. For anyone wanting to get into The Sims or wanting a refresher of all the generations, you are welcome!