The on-stage presentation for The Sims 4 at E3 was a sinister piece of work. Forget your survival horror games and your gore-tastic third-person monster-choppers, this is the most disturbing video shown at the entire event. It begins with simple marketing buzz-speak – “In previous games you controlled the mind and body of your Sims. In the Sims 4, for the first time, you control their hearts.” This is demonstrated by showing what look like canned animations linked to personality traits. So far, so Sims 3. Then, toward the end of the video, the presenter really takes control of a poor jock’s heart.
The Grim Reaper may have a tablet to make a note of the demise, but starting a presentation by bragging that you have control of a person’s heart and then driving them into cardiac arrest doesn’t seem particularly jolly.
I want to like The Sims 4 because there’s nothing else quite like the series and the simulation aspects of it are interesting. With a lot of nudging and creative thinking on the part of the player, there are emergent stories to discover, but the emphasis on ‘weird’ stories in this video is off-putting. The Sims started as a game about life in suburbia but it’s become a game about celebrities living next door to werewolves living next door to robots from the future. I want to create Coronation Street, not Sunset Beach.
While not quite at Fifa levels, there’s little evidence in what’s shown that the new features are any different to the old features.