‘The Sims 4: City Living’ Review: San Myshuno Has Irresistible Flavor

7
  • OS X
  • Windows
  • Simulator
2014-09-02
thesims4cityliving
'The Sims 4: City Living' releases Nov. 1. EA

In the Sims 3, I was a storyteller. In the Sims 4, I’ve been a builder -- and a strong advocate for the motherlode cheat. But City Living roped me back into the story. The flavor of the city is irresistible. San Myshuno takes you along for a ride, just like a real city would and a good game should. It’s the complexity that makes this expansion pack a must-buy.

There’s a human element in City Living that doesn’t exist in previous expansions. A neighbor came to the door of my penthouse to ask for food in exchange for her good company. A Sim living downstairs in Culpepper came up to hang out because he was lonely. When you take San Myshuno and put it up against Bridgeport from TS3, it’s amazing to see how far The Sims has come, aesthetically speaking. The sheer scope of this city is quite daunting. It takes hours to get your bearings, in a good way. It’s a vast city built with impeccable precision. It’s obvious there was a lot of thought behind even the most obscure background details--Sims walking down the street, taxis racing down city blocks, rumbling from the subway passing by and ambient noise from the cars crossing the bay on the San Myshuno bridge make City Living the most comprehensive expansion pack released for The Sims 4.

thesims4cityliving
'The Sims 4: City Living' releases Nov. 1. Photo: EA

APARTMENTS

Part of the reason San Myshuno feels so big is because there are four new neighborhoods to live in. Each feels like its own unique city. Depending on what you’re looking for in rent prices, you have the option of moving to the Spice Market, Uptown, Fashion District or the Arts Quarter.

Three lots in particular have won me over: Culpepper, Torendi Penthouse and The Old Salthouse. Even though my Sims started advancing in careers, I just couldn’t bear the thought of trading in my Culpepper two-bedroom for a nicer place like Jasmine or Zenview. I really fell in love with my small back patio, the perfect size for a basketball hoop. Unlike the outside walls, the side window and door to the patio are adjustable in build mode. I threw in a larger window and knocked down an inside wall to turn the master bedroom into an art room with a graffiti garage door and mural on the floor.

On the downside, the cockroaches in Culpepper are extremely annoying. Be prepared for your Sims to always be tense because of them. A steamy shower helps, but the bugs don’t go away even if you call the landlord, who by the way, does not seem to leave the apartment unless you tell them to.

The lot traits are one of the key changes incorporated into the base game. The new lot info panel is much more intuitive and the lot traits give each apartment a unique feel. What better way to balance out waking up to cockroaches every day than a nice breeze? Finding an apartment in the city doesn’t come without trade-offs.

I’m usually the player who bulldozes premade lots and never takes advantage of already furnished rooms. I love that City Living doesn’t give me that option. And when it does, like the Salt House, it still feels so much different than a lot in Windenburg. The modern and complex designs of Torendi, Landgraab, Alto and Spire in Uptown are breathtaking. I haven’t had a chance to fiddle with non-residential penthouses yet, which is another feature to look forward to after completing each new career track and fulfilling the new City Native aspiration.

CAREERS

The social media, critic and political careers add new dynamics to the long list of traditional Sims careers. The new options don’t function like the Doctor and Police careers added in Get To Work. Going to work with your Sim is fun, but ends up being 10 minutes of clicking ations and fast-forwarding. Like the Get To Work careers, you’ll get a call about an hour before your shift time asking whether or not you’d like to go into the office or work from home. If you choose work from home, you’ll get work assignments to complete before the start of next shift.

In the Social Media field, you may be asked to take a photo at a nightclub, update your social media status, or attend Geek Con. Social Media is a good pick for well-rounded Sims. The ideal mood is playful and there’s a variety of skills involved, such as writing and charisma.

So far, the critic career is the most straightforward. Early on, assignments are to recommend local spots to other Sims and write a column every day. I’d imagine as the career progresses, these tasks will change and it will get a bit more interesting, especially when it comes to actually reviewing restaurants around San Myshuno.  

The politics career is hard! Like any job with a charisma requirement, it’s not very much fun to watch your Sim practice in front of the mirror for hours. The daily task is often successfully promoting a cause, which in itself is easy, but forces you to go outside into the neighborhood. The first time my Sim protested in the Spice Market, I couldn't help but laugh out loud as he shouted at disinterested Sims walking by and went home upset nobody listened to him. Sometimes you’ll be asked to visit your neighbors to discuss a variety of community issues. While the political career is demanding, I anticipate it being the most fun later down the line. I look forward to watching my Sim make a speech in Uptown plaza.

ACTIVITIES

Watching Sims play basketball is a highlight of this pack. It takes them awhile to get good and it’s super funny to watch them flail around and fall on the floor. But when they get good, you get a show of flashy behind-the-back dunks and imaginary celebrity games. My Sim actually got a sprained ankle playing in the Spice Market courts, which was a nice realistic touch. Beware, your active Sims will get addicted to hooping, especially if you have an inside court. This seems like a glitch, but one of my Sims would get about three seconds into Browsing Intelligence before he’d legitimately start sprinting over to the basketball hoop. I had to remove the basket so he could fulfill his daily tasks. Starting a basketball club is next on my list.

Video games are a great way to get your Sims in a good mood quickly. It makes them playful, energized, and fills the social bar if you play online. In a crappy apartment with no room for stress-relievers such as a jacuzzi, video games are the best way to have your Sim decompress after work before they start their daily tasks. The more your Sim plays and the better they get, the more games you’ll unlock.

The festivals are what string the city together. While each neighborhood has a distinct flavor, the festival brings everyone in the community together and makes the city feel complete. Geek Con is amazing with the hacking and gaming competitions. Listen to a couple woohoo in space in the rocketship. Watching a Sim use chopsticks for the first time at the Spice Festival is another one of the subtleties that accentuate the complexity of the pack. I didn't really know what to expect walking into the Humor and Hijinks festival, but there were tons of cool interactions and my Sims certainly enjoyed it. The Flea Market is super low-key and a great way to get cheaper furniture for broke Sims living in Culpeper. The music in these festivals add a really nice touch, again the subtleties, with the Romance Festival in particular.

The festivals also add interest and depth to the expansion through the inclusion of some pretty cool side effects. All 27 new dishes from the food carts can be learned and made at restaurants. Once you try the new flavors, your Sim can make the recipe if they have enough cooking skill. There’s usually two carts in each neighborhood and they don’t seem to close at a particular time. You can buy spices at the Spice Market and bring them home to experiment with new flavors at home.

OBJECTS / CREATE-A-SIM

City Living focuses on apartments and neighborhoods, but it also adds objects and new clothes that enhance gameplay. Finally we’ve got some great new beds, and if you're desperate, you can even buy a used futon. And believe me, after the first night you’ll probably want to sell your fridge to get your Sim a better one. They will be sore all day. The canopy bed is perfect to place in the center of a room with a carpet underneath. The double futon, when bought new, looks fancy enough to put in both an expensive and cheap apartment. The sleek new curved TV is fit for any penthouse wall. The Torendi Tower lot has it placed at the top of a high wall over kitchen cabinets. The new paintings aren’t like the rest of the catalogue. Like the food and clothing, the new art is inspired by Japanese, Moroccan and Indian culture. My personal favorite is the three-paneled purple elephant painting. As expected, we also get some more modern furniture--shelving, tables and chairs that don’t look out of place next to wall sized windows and high ceilings. Like most expansion packs for The Sims 4, there’s no fancy new carpet, which at the end of the day is fine, but it’d be nice to have just one more option. Brushed metal and brick walls, and new basketball court wood flooring are the best of new build-mode features.

City Living omitted urban-inspired hats, ripped jeans and sneakers in favor of more culturally distinct apparel, and rightfully so. There are endless options in CAS ever since the interface became gender fluid, but the styles aren’t as diverse as they could be. Traditional Indian garments such as sari, mekhela chador, shalwar kameez, jama and bandhgala are represented in styled looks and full-body outfits. High-waisted pants, varsity jackets, high-top leather sneakers, and a handful of new tattoos designs are among my favorite CAS items.

VERDICT

There’s a short-term satisfaction that makes this expansion pack more addictive than the rest. The ability to walk outside the apartment, onto the sidewalk and into the neighborhood without loading screens makes San Myshuno feel alive at all hours of the day. Fall asleep to views of the bridge and sounds of the street outside your window. There’s no excuse to sit inside your lot building skills all day. It’s easy for ambitious, career-driven Sims to be more social each day with festivals and public gatherings. City Living is a truly impressive simulation of life in a big city.  If you’ve invested any money in The Sims 4, there’s no question you need City Living.

  • Simulator
  • OS X
  • Windows
72014-09-02EA's new installment in its mega-hit franchise leaves a lot to be desired (that will be delivered by expansions).Quick loading times. Improved graphics.No toddlers. No open world.
Join the Discussion
Top Stories