Firstly, I’ll have to ask you to forgive the quality of my screenshots today. My GPU, with which I’ve been fighting for a month, has finally blown out after just nine months. I’ve sent it off to ASUS for repair/replacement, but for the next two weeks or so I’ll be forced to do everything on my integrated graphics. My plan for this time is to stick with 2D games and my consoles, but I couldn’t just throw this planned review to the side just because everything is going to look a bit shit.
I’m always excited for the first expansion of any new Sims title. It’s a weird, outdated DLC model that I’ll still happily pay for despite the fact that it’s probably not the best or most efficient way to distribute new content in these days of digital downloads and micro-payments. But I always get excited, whether I should (The Sims 2 University, The Sims Livin’ Large) or not (The Sims 3 World Adventures). And (just between you and me), I even broke my pre-order rule for this one when I found out that I could get it for only $10 at the time.
Get to Work is an expansion in the same vain as Ambitions for The Sims 3 and Open for Business for the Sims 2, adding the same active-styled careers as the former and a retail system similar to that in the latter. Sims have the ability to work as doctors, scientists and police (and players can follow their sims to work and control them while they do) and can now also own shops in which they can sell just about anything the player chooses.
I started out with the doctor career, and that was the job I played the most during the time I was writing this review. My sim started out, fresh from high school, in a tiny house in Willow Creek and around §20,000, with a job as a Medical Assistant. Her first day of work was pretty uneventful. She introduced herself to the receptionist at the front desk and then immediately made her way to the clinic rooms where some patients were already waiting. At the lower levels of the career, treating patients seems to go a bit like this: If they already have a diagnosis, treat them. If they do not, put them through a few tests and then refer them to a higher level doctor to take care of the treatment itself. That’s, like, weirdly realistic for a Sims game. There are other duties that the doctor has, such as checking patients into beds, keeping the premises clean and the equipment calibrated. When a sim is done with their shift, they can either extend it by and hour or go home on time.
The scientist and detective careers actually play out pretty differently from the doctor’s. Scientists are pretty much free to do whatever they want during their shifts, and a wide variety of interactions on the lot push scientists closer and closer to a ‘breakthrough’, in which they can work on putting together a new invention. The inventions get more and more impressive as the scientist climbs the ranks, culminating in a portal leading to an alien homeworld.
Detectives are mostly the same as they were in Ambitions, although a lot more detailed. Find a case, collect clues, process evidence, find perp, and so on.
A lot of the concern with active careers in the Sims is replayability, and that’s still an issue in Get to Work. I can definitely see some of the active careers being a lot more repayable than others and this is a huge problem in sandbox games. After every case and evidence type is exhausted for the detective and every invention has been discovered for the scientist, there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot left to do in those tracks. Unlike, Ambitions, however, the player is given the choice to follow their sims to work or to let them go it alone as they would with any other career. So at least this time around those career options don’t become 100% unusable once the player gets bored of them.
The retail system is interesting, but definitely had less time dedicated to it than the active careers did. It works better than the Sims 3 Store sets that added incredibly gimped sim-owned stores to the game, but it’s still not as deep or extensive as the business system in Open For Business. Unlike OFB, sim-owned businesses are restricted to only being shops, and there’s nothing really in the way to make up for it. The system is set up to allow for the sale of pretty much everything that one can put on a lot or mannequin, which is pretty cool but not entirely a great upgrade compared to the OFB shops. It’s understandable, considering how businesses weren’t the sole focus of the expansion, unlike OFB.
Related to that, there is a lot of content in this expansion. Maybe I’m just used to Sims 3 expansions like Generations, but a pack that adds not just one huge feature, but multiple ones, is a really good release for this series.
There are Photography and Baking skills, which are pretty cool too. You can hang photos that sims have taken on walls like in TS3 and baking, does, well… baking.
In the short time that I’ve played the expansion I’ve already run into several large bugs. The first one being that all custom clothing has had its CAS icons replaced with that of the aliens’ jumpsuit, making using any of it pretty frustrating. The other glitch, however, is quite a bit more game-breaking. In order to test out the retail system I tried to load up my painter sim, only to find out that she was at the hospital, a place where non-doctor sims shouldn’t be able to go unless they’re NPCs. Apparently, once a sim who isn’t supposed to be at the hospital gets to the hospital, they wont be able to leave while the player is controlling them. Pre-ty game breaking.
In terms of graphics, some of the particle effects included in the game obviously weren’t intended to be seen on integrated graphics. I managed to drop 30fps at one point just by aiming my camera at the 3D-printer type machine that the scientists use. This was a pretty big trend in the base game too, with ‘Laptop Mode’ being pretty much broken to the point of making the game unplayable. I may have also minimized the game at that point in order to check my graphics card’s repair status.
- Worth at least $10.
- Probably worth $40.
- A really nice amount of content.
- Does what Ambitions attempted, but better.
- The Sims 4 engine makes micromanaging between sims at work and those at home a lot easier than it was with The Sims 3 engine.
- Players have the option to not play the active part of a career if they don’t want to.
- Aliens make a comeback (and they’re awesome).
- You get to go to their home planet and it’s pretty baller.
- Lots of fancy new decor items, although some of them only seem to be available through career rewards or unlocked via cheats.
- The selfie interaction is actually a little bit adorable.
- New neighborhood only includes four new lots to play with.
- Sims can only go to the fancy new Hospital, Police Station and Science Lab lots while they work there and even then only during their shift.
- Several very obvious bugs, some of them are pretty severe.
- Active careers are still not that replayable.
- Career lots are bland and poorly designed. Players can change them, but not without a cheat.
- Attempts to do what Open for Business did, but does not quite succeed.
- The game is still wildly unoptimized for lower graphics settings and laptops.
Overall, a pretty decent start to the Sims 4 expansion series, as long as EA gets that little ‘sims stranded at a hospital forever’ bug sorted…
UPDATE: As of 30/4/2015, EA seems to have fixed the strandedness bug as I haven’t managed to recreate for the past couple of weeks.