❗ Be sure to check out the SimsVIP City Living Game Guide for help with your game.
Firstly, hello! This is my first review for SimsVIP and what an expansion pack to kick off with – pack your bags and shut up the barn, because we’re heading to the city!
I am of course referring to the newest release and third expansion pack in The Sims 4 series – ‘The Sims 4 – City Living’.
We won’t get too bogged downed in the detail here, as there really is a lot on offer in this expansion. But rather let’s have a meander through some key takeaways and observations San Myshuno has to offer. Let’s get stuck in.
‘City Living’, without a doubt, very much does what it says on the tin – more so than its most akin predecessors ‘The Sims 2 – Nightlife’ and ‘The Sims 3 – Late Night’. We’ve left the focus on late night partying and general frivolity in the past and instead are given a far more genuine recreation of what it’s actually like to live in a city (incredible, I know!)
This is also the first time an expansion pack has truly shown echoes of past series of The Sims. ‘Get to Work’ was a new concept for an expansion, ‘Get Together’ brought back the previously party aspect of The Sims, but ‘City Life’ is very much the “city” expansion – The Sims 2 had it, The Sims 3 had it. So, how does it hold up? I’d say pretty well.
The party, glittering night time skyline angle appears to have been dropped for this expansion pack and instead we’re served with a more authentic, immersive city feel. It looks great, there’s no denying that. When presented with the initial Edit World screen, I found myself unsure where to even begin. However, I think it best to start with the main event – the city itself.
Inspired by Eastern Asian cities such as Shanghai – San Myshuno certainly looks the part. Keeping with the funkier graphics of the Edit World screen, we get a backdrop of a crowded cityscape, with specific spots that are actually playable (as you can see above).
Now, I must make an early confession. I was never the biggest fan of the “city” expansion packs introduced into the series. I wasn’t a big lover of ‘Late Night’ nor ‘Nightlife’ – I’m just a country gal at heart – but that was primarily because previous incarnations were all so very dark and a bit too Hollywood–esque for my liking (nothing against Hollywood, I just feel it focused a lot on the idea of celebrity glitz & glam). San Myshuno couldn’t be further removed, offering a bright, colourful landscape that feels like a modern metropolitan hub.
However, once you get over the initial bedazzlement of the Edit World screen and get stuck in, the playable areas seem somewhat… limited? I am a believer of more doesn’t always mean better and I have been a fan of The Sims 4’s smaller worlds, with all the detail they offer (even if it’s just pretty backdrops), but the fact that the penthouses exist in their own tower blocks with no other apartments is a tad odd. I understand that this fits with their new design of the screen where you can select apartments (see below), but I suspect there could have been a way around this to allow for maximum lots and the sense an apartment block should offer – living in a building packed with people.
I also found the apartment screens slightly jarring and it was difficult to distinguish between each apartment – the mouse very much had to be my guide! But I admit, I’m not sure what better way it could have been displayed – so I recognise that it’s pointless to criticise if you have nothing to offer as a solution.
The public spaces are open and stylised to the respected neighbourhoods (not sure if this is what we’re calling them?) of the city. We have the option of 4 diverse and unique areas of San Myshuno: the Fashion District, Arts Quarter, Uptown and the Spice Market… oh, and Myshuno Meadows! There are constantly people moving about, which is great to see. Although, I do hope that the open spaces provided for the ever coming and going festivals do not grow to feel sometimes empty and lacking in activity. Time will tell!
There are new and exciting aspects to each neighbourhood (I’m rolling with it) in their turn. So take the time to explore them all and get to know the vibe of the area your sims may be living in, as we really have been spoilt for choice with this expansion pack.
CAS, Build & Buy
What’s the point in a city if you don’t have jazzy objects and swanky looking sims to put in it? Building, however, has taken a backseat it would appear.
No apartment building for us – this we know. But ‘City Living’ does offer a slew of new build options and objects – many with a distinctly modern feel. But apart from the talking toilet, there isn’t anything particularly mind-blowing.
The games console is a welcome addition and the ability to have four sims playing at once makes it far more communal. Karaoke also returns (with the singing skill!) – always great fun and very fitting for this pack, where creativity appears to be key. My previous statement leads quite neatly on to one of my favourite new additions – murals. This is connected to the painting skill and allows for sims to create art on the streets of the city (or anywhere else for that matter). The fact that you can create political art and then go a step further and deface these murals is a really interesting touch – it’s nice to see the creators go the extra mile in this way.
Basketball also deserves a shout out, as I have always liked the idea of having more sports in the sims. It’s a new way for your sims to gain the athletic skill and fits the urban feel of this expansion perfectly. But overall I wasn’t blown away by the new objects, but happy enough. I just want more beds, please! Whine over. The new décor is funky and edgy which, again, is very much the vibe of this expansion.
The new styled rooms are also very attractive (a few examples below) and are infused with a lot of colour.
Of course, the limitations on building our own apartment block is a shame, but in keeping with their Edit World screen design, I don’t see how it could have worked. The dimensions had to be predesigned, I can see that. So I think this is more a case of the build aspect being stylised into a corner. The design team made it impossible as soon as they chose to go with the aesthetic they did. Is it worth the pay-off? That’s for each individual to decide – I would say… just about.
The new CAS editions are genuinely fantastic and one of the best parts of the expansion (very much a personal opinion). It’s great to see more diversity in the style and culturally inspired clothing. The headscarves are superb, it’s so exciting to see them in a Sims game. More of this please!
Festivals, Careers & Lot Traits
So, the festivals were definitely a major draw in the lead up to this expansion. They were pitched to players as an explosion of activity, vibrancy and colour. Do they hold up? Personally, I think yes. However, I do think they’re a tad random in terms of subject.
So we have a number of festivals to choose from. There’s Geek Con, the Spice Market and the Romance Festival to name a few. There really is an interesting mix, so much so that I wonder how the final festivals found in the game were actually decided on. You can see the source of their inspiration for a the likes of Geek Con (Comic Con for sure) and I always enjoy seeing nuggets like these in Sims games, as it it tells me about the inspirations of the creators.
When you check the board outside your flat to see if there are any festivals you’re going to get a pop-up that looks like the picture below, which gives you all the information you need!
It’s extremely helpful and handy that you receive a notification when a festival is on, with an option to travel straight to where it’s happening. When it first popped up saying the Flee Market would be taking place I did have a moment of panic when I realised I had no idea which neighbourhood the festival was in. So a reminder was very welcome.
One reservation – I’m uncertain how quickly they may lose their shine. I can imagine once each festival has been visited upwards of five times (admittedly this would take a while), they may become quite samey. This is very much coming from a legacy player perspective, as I plan on taking multiple generations to explore San Myshuno. But I suspect there may only be so many times I want to go through the same motions of each festival. Again, only time will tell and my worries may very much be unrealised!
Great to see the Political career back in action, which has been sorely missed since The Sims 4 launch. This does feel like the right expansion pack for it, as politics often seems to
come alive in cities (not that countryside politics aren’t important!)
Along with the Politician career track, you can also take of the virtual world by storm as a member of the Social Media career path or become a Critic, which is quite a fresh and interesting addition. The more careers the better, so it’s great to see three new-(ish) options.
And last, but not least, lots now have traits all of their own. I am a big fan of this edition, as it adds even more character the places our sims inhabit and really make them seem more like homes. It’s a new concept that injects more life into the buildings many players have and will so devotedly create. There are lots of traits to choose from too, ranging from fast internet connection to infested with gnomes.
I love the fact that they continue to extend this world. Windenburg was a great edition in ‘Get Together’, bringing a central European setting to the series, and now we have this distinctly modern, Eastern inspired city.
In the wake of The Sims 4, I know many players look back on the times of The Sims 3 with fond memories. But the open plan world of The Sims 3 would never have allowed for the opportunity we now have, like living in Windenburg, Willow Creek or the City of San Myshuno all in one universe. With every expansion pack, it pays off more.
Is it a truly great expansion? Not quite – but it’s the combinations that are starting to make The Sims 4 really exciting. ‘City Living’ and ‘Get Together’ combined create something pretty special. I like the idea of expansion packs not just being stand alone, but an integrated part of a bigger picture.
I look forward to what’s next! More worlds please and more culture, let’s make The Sims 4 as diverse, inclusive and sprawling as possible. San Myshuno is definitely a step in the right direction. I may have been converted to the “city” expansion pack after all. Now pass me that pufferfish…