The Sims 4: City Living Review (PC)

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Like every Sims before it, The Sims 4 has made the jump from suburban comfort to urban dwelling with its latest expansion, City Living. While previous attempts to simulate city life were certainly fun, City Living surpasses them all by making the new locale of San Myshuno feel alive, bustling, and connected. The expansion shows off The Sims 4’s greatest achievements, like seamless multitasking, while adding quite a bit of new content to the base game.

The biggest and most obvious new feature in City Living is apartments. San Myshuno is made up of four different districts, each with its own distinct theme, and Sims can live right in the heart of it all. From shabby studios to posh penthouses, there are options for all kinds of groups, families and roommates alike. However, the experience is still held back by the core’s shortcomings, namely the closing off of a previously open world: the loading screen that pops up when you switch between Sims on different lots and the loss of control over other Sims that follows. I hoped that maybe this wouldn’t apply to different apartments on the same floor, but it does, making it extra silly --- if I can see a friend’s apartment from mine and we share a hallway, it’s a bit strange to suddenly be met with a loading screen when knocking on the door.

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All throughout the city are ongoing festivals, which add new challenges to The Sims 4. Some are timed and themed to a real-life holiday, like last weekend’s Sugar Skull challenge, which required players to find limited-edition skulls around town. There are flea markets, comedy festivals, and even conventions. The festivals are a large part of what makes the City Living vibe so authentic; it’s not just another town with tall buildings, it’s a place that’s living and breathing that brings Sims together in unexpected ways. These festivals are woven into social interactions, and you’ll often get texts or calls from friendly Sims asking you to check them out. I wish these opportunities didn’t so often happen in the middle of the night on a work night, but maybe I’m just showing my age there. Still, it’s a drag to turn down a chance to hit the streets with your crush because you won’t be on the lot to get the rest of the household up and ready for work.

City Living also brings with it a slew of fresh items, clothing, and hairstyles. The new activities and skills are all pretty great; you can jam out at karaoke, another urban staple, and raise your singing skill as you go. Playing basketball is a fun way to increase athleticism while being social, and if you’ve got the funds (or the motherlode code), you can even build a court in your apartment. Two modern day careers --- social media and critic --- provide interesting job options, and the political path also makes a return (but the less said about that in this current climate, the better).

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The Sims 4: City Living is an excellent addition to the core, and possibly the best apartment-themed expansion in series history. It’s also the best add-on The Sims 4 has produced yet. Many of its ideas are recycled from previous iterations, but what’s new takes the series forward in interesting ways. Like previous expansions, it’s still hampered by the inability to simultaneously control Sims on separate lots, which really hinders some of the excitement of exploring San Myshuno in multi-person households. If that was never a deal-breaker, or you’re looking for any excuse to jump back in, there’s no reason not to pick up City Living.

This review was completed using a digital download of The Sims 4: City Living provided by the publisher for PC.

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