Today we break down and compare The Sims 1, 2, 3, & 4 starting with how The Sims came into being.
Electronic Arts have boosted in popularity partially due to their success with The Sims series. The game has been quite successful over the years and has released a number of expansions for each game. Every Sims game kept something from the last but brought something new in addition to updated graphics. The Sims is a life simulator created by Will Wright, who lost everything in a fire and wanted to create a game to simulate life. While it was initially rejected when the idea was proposed to Maxis in 1993, he proposed the idea to EA once again in 1995 and SimCity was thus in the process of being born. The Sims is a series that started with SimCity in February 2000.
The Sims is a virtual world where you control “Sims.” These Sims need direction; as my mom puts it, “they are virtual Barbie dolls”. You essentially have to help them live their lives. You can even control the way they die, the way they live, and what jobs they have. The first Sims game is number 6 on the list of best-selling PC games, at 11 million copies sold. This was noted in the Guinness Book of World Records at one point in time, though the information has probably changed since Minecraft has become the best-seller.
There is no objective to The Sims except that which you make of it. However, the game can have secondary objectives —what you want to do—such as starting a family, getting a job, getting promoted, or even just making sure the Sim’s needs are taken care of. I describe The Sims to other non-simmers as your own fantasy world. If you pick up a copy of the original game, though, don’t expect it to be perfect; the graphics of Sims 1 do not compare to today’s graphics.
There was not a whole lot to the first installment of The Sims. You would create a family, build a home, take care of needs, and make sure the kids went to school. If the children got an F in school for 7 days straight, they would be sent to military school and erased from the game, never to be seen again. Interestingly, in order for The Sims to be released in China, they had to rename the Criminal career, so they renamed it as the Mime career instead and converted all associated content to match.
The Sims 2 is the second in The Sims series. It was released in 2004 with some new features and changes which gave the game more purpose for players. These features included aspirations, which is a life goal, although, there still is not a primary goal to the game unless you set one. There is no beating the game or losing The Sims, so that’s one less thing to worry about. Other additions to the second installment include:
- Sims Remember and React – Sims now have Memories and Awareness. They may cower in fear, wave in friendship, or threaten other Sims.
- Double the Fun – In the Playstation 2 console game, they offered a 2-player mode. This option was not available in the PC version of the game.
- Endless Possibilities – Hidden opportunities abound, so pay attention to your surroundings.
In The Sims 2, Sims have life goals, wants, and fears, the fulfillment of which can produce positive or negative outcomes. Although screenshots may be deceiving, the graphics were improved by incorporating a 3D graphics engine, as opposed to the 2D engine of the original game. Considering the time period the game was released, these were considered great graphics; in fact, the discovery of 3D graphics was an amazing innovation for many gamers and computer whizzes alike. Another feature of the second game is that Sims can travel to Community lots in order to purchase things like clothing and magazines, and interact with NPCs and townies. There are several new social interactions introduced in The Sims 2:
- Influencing: A Sim is able to influence another Sim to complete a social interaction or a chore. Sims gain influence points by completing Wants and can lose influence points by completing Fears. The size of the influence bar depends on the number of friends the Sim has. It also can grow in size with business perks from the Open for Business expansion pack. Influence was also in the Nightlife expansion but added nothing.
- Chemistry: The Nightlife expansion pack introduces turn-ons and turn-offs. Teenagers and older are able to choose their turn-ons and turn-offs. These determine the chemistry that one Sim has with another in the form of lightning bolts. Sims can have up to 3 lightning bolts with another Sim. The higher the chemistry with another Sim, the greater the chance for social interactions to be accepted. New turn-ons and turn-offs are introduced with the Bon Voyage expansion pack.
- Fury: Fury is introduced in the Nightlife expansion pack and occurs when one Sim gets angry at another. During this time, relationships with the Sim who is furious are harder to build. Also, the Sim who is furious may pick a fight or vandalize the home lot of the Sim they are furious with. Fury can be caused by another Sim burgling the Sim’s house, getting fined after calling emergency services when there was no emergency, fighting, cheating on a Sim (the cheater or the Sim that was cheated with, often both), and more.
- Reputation: Reputation, which is found in the previous Sims game The Urbz: Sims in the City is reintroduced in the Apartment Life expansion pack. A Sim gains reputation by interacting with other Sims on community lots. Sims with higher reputations are more likely to gain perks such as free objects and job promotions.
The Sims 3 was another successful title in The Sims series, selling 1.4 million copies in its first week. The gameplay is open-ended and does not have a defined goal, although they do have ambitions in The Sims 3. This one also brought a form of online play; with the Showtime expansion, you could use the simport feature to play a show in your friend’s game. Your friend could then go to hear or watch your Sim play if they were in one of the Showtime careers. Many players enjoyed this and it gave a reason for you to add people to your simport or friends list on Origin and EA through the Sims. You would gain rewards for completing the simporting and having sims play in specific venues. The new reward system Wishes replaces the Wants and Fears system of The Sims 2. Fulfilling a Sim’s wish contributes to the Sim’s Lifetime Happiness score, allowing players to purchase lifetime rewards for the cost of those Lifetime Happiness points. They introduced Story Progression, which sadly did not return without a mod in The Sims 4. This allowed sims to move in and out of town, get married, have babies, get divorced, and live their lives whether you were playing that family or not. As long as you were playing in that same world, the world around you would continue to unfold and play out the story itself.
There were many different careers and career options, such as the Firefighter career, that gave you direct control over your Sim’s work and how they spend their days. The core game careers included Business, Culinary, Criminal, Journalism, Law Enforcement, Medical, Military, Music, Political, Science, and Professional Sports. The variety of careers widened with expansion packs. You could join the Firefighter, Ghost Hunter, Investigator, Architectural Designer, and Stylist careers if you had the Ambitions expansion pack. The Showtime expansion pack included the Acrobat, Music, or Magician career. The part-time jobs available were Bookstore Clerk, Grocery Store Clerk, Spa Receptionist, Spa Specialist, and Mausoleum Gravedigger, and these jobs were available for teens as well. Sims were also able to register as self-employed through the city hall. Players were given more control over their Sim’s work days; you could click the Sim’s portrait and the work symbol and tell the Sim to “Work Hard”, “Take It Easy”, “Suck Up To Boss”, and other career-dependent options.
Katy Perry even helped work on a couple of special limited expansions for Showtime: Katy Perry Collector’s Edition and Sweet Treats. She mentioned in the past how much she loves The Sims and was happy to have helped. She put a personal touch on the items by helping to design the game and record some of her songs for the game itself, changing some of the lyrics to match the Simlish language that is characteristic of Sims games.
Expansion packs really opened up the game. For instance, you were able to explore France, China, and Egypt in the World Adventures expansion. As buggy as World Adventures was, if you could get past the bugs then it was an overall fun, new, and different experience brought to The Sims. In Supernatural, there were many new life states introduced, including Fairies, Zombies, and Vampires.
The Sims 4 threw people off and made a lot of people not want to play. The game was not as successful when it first came out because toddlers and pools were both removed from the game when it was released. It has slowly gained success, but it’s still not as successful as its predecessors; in fact, it was speculated that if The Sims 4 did not succeed, there would not be a fifth game. The expansions, game packs, and stuff packs started coming out relatively quickly. To date, the game has sold over 5 million copies worldwide, so they have gained the success EA was hoping for.
The Sims 4 added emotions to the game, so your sims can get flirty, sad, and angry, among others. They even have emotional deaths as a result of some emotions, such as dying from laughter. Create-A-Sim and Build Mode has become more drag-and-drop; you simply pull on the Sims and houses, making it easier and more versatile when building or creating a Sim. When they released Vampires they included many more features than its predecessor, The Sims 3: Supernatural. You can now gain power points and have more playabilitiy as a vampire. The Sims 4 is still missing some key features that some players love, however, such as the Military career from The Sims 3. One of the biggest changes made during The Sims 4 is the graphics, which have become much smoother.
The Get to Work is an expansion pack that gave more careers, known as “active careers”. This means you get to go to work with your Sim and control him or her completely while at work. There are work objectives that must be completed, but essentially, the more you complete, the more simoleans you earn. New traits were added as well, and currently it is rumored that a Pets expansion is in the works. The features that Sims 4 has brought to The Sims include:
- Smarter Sims: Sims would have unique personalities and appearances, and have emotions. Sims feel and express emotions based on how you interact with other Sims and brought on by specific situations. A Sim who watches another Sim die would get sad and you would have to do certain interactions to make this Sim happy again or else wait out the days necessary for the sadness to go away.
- Powerful, Creative Tools: The Build mode and the Create-a-Style mode allows you to sculpt your Sims and homes to perfection as you would like them. This includes breast size, lips, eyes, weight, and much more.
- Vibrant Neighborhoods: You can go to community parks and you’re not limited to just one neighborhood. You can go to many different community lots or hang out with your neighbors.
- Rewards: By completing events you can get new objects, new outfits, and new traits, or even potions that you can drink to change your mood. For instance, if your Sim is sad, you can drink a happy potion to make them happy again. You can even unlock achievements, and some of them will give you new rewards.
- Share Your Creations: You can use the gallery to share your creations or download creations of your friends or other simmers. You can do all this from within the game, which is something new, as in The Sims 3 you had to leave the game and download from the website, so EA really improved on this feature.
Each Sims game has brought something new to the series, and some were better than others. With the new game pack has released, it seems that The Sims 4 is only just beginning—though some players might disagree and say that it’s time for them to move on and come out with the next Sims game. What are your thoughts? Which Sims is your favorite? What do you think they should add next to The Sims 4? Let us know in the comments, or on our Facebook or Twitter! We’d love to hear from you.