Free Time with The Sims 4

EA is offering The Sims 4 for free, to download and keep, through May 28. So that’s become the top activity for my wife and I this beautiful Memorial Day weekend.

I’ve played at least one of the games in every generation since the original Sims, including each of the main numbered releases, even though I wouldn’t necessarily consider myself a fan of the franchise. If not for this particular opportunity, I probably would have never even bothered with the fourth main entry, but I’m glad I did. The varied, branching aspirations and multitude of personality traits available, coupled with greater autonomy, imbue the Sims with more identity and vitality than ever before. You can still hop in and micro-manage the hell out of them, still apply the heavy thumb of a fickle god to their lives, but it’s now often fun to just sit back and let them run through their days, as though you’re the owner of a human terrarium. I feel more like I’m nudging them at the right moments, pushing them toward the completion of their lifetime goals, a benevolent deity that they couldn’t prove for sure is ever really there. And sometimes I push them right into a whole lot of drama–sometimes deliberately, sometimes accidentally–and in those moments, my Sims must be convinced that there can be no god at all.

As has almost always been the case, building my Sim families is still my favorite part of the game. There is so much customization, with virtually everything, including gender, coming in multiple spectra. Then there are all the aspirations and personality traits that I mentioned to round them out as people, not merely bodies. (If we can already run simulations this convincing, it’s hard to shake the implication that we, too, could be operating within a larger-scale sim.)

It’s crazy to realize that The Sims 4 released in 2014. I’m sure that now that I’m playing it, we’ll see an announcement for the fifth installment any day now…

But if you, like me, never bothered with The Sims 4, it couldn’t hurt to pick it up while it’s free!

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