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Sims 4 from the E3 floor


Checking out the Sims franchise early at any major event is like watching someone else play with your dolls ... I mean, action figures. You watch the presentation, listen to the salient bullet points and all you want to do is push the guy off the computer and just play the game.

The Sims 4 is another refresh of the 14-year-old franchise that includes a little something new, something old and adds stuff that makes the Sims blue.

Gallery: The Sims 4 (Gamescom 2013) | 15 Photos

For content creators, The Gallery is the big update for the game. Players don't need to leave the game anymore for new content. A browser is built into the game that allows folks to find the specific content they are looking for and import it. For example, say you want a well-designed living room for your Sims. You can now import it and easily overlay it within the house. It's very efficient.

What I was surprised about was how much - and how easy it is for - players to customize their Sims this time around. It's very possible to make characters that looks like your friends, colleagues and enemies (and leave them in a room without a door).

There is a wide palette of Sim customization opens to shape bodies with simple mouse drags. We've posted videos about it before, but seeing it done in real-time shows off the speed of the customization. Yes, if you're detailed oriented, it's very easy to get lost in the body nips and tucks in Sims 4 more than any prior game. We fully expect to provide you the chronicles of the Real World: Joystiq house this fall.

Another major improvement in Sims 4 is giving the denizens a wider range of personalities and expression of emotions. When a Sim is mad, it shows in their entire body language. Anger also isn't a total negative in the game. If you sent an angry Sim to the gym, they can take that excess energy and build up their athletic skill faster. Better yet, if your Sim is friends with someone in the gym, they can have a buddy push them to the limits and build their skill faster.

The housing customization options look incredible for The Sims 4. It's now possible to raise and lower the foundation, the walls, and it looks like players will be accessing The Gallery for extra content often. If you're like me and want a nice bathroom, you can certainly build it yourself with a lot of options, but going into the gallery and downloading a pre-built room seems super easy. You can share and then personalize the rooms, if you just want a jumpstart. The build mode also seems incredibly deep.

It's always weird heading into a new Sims installment because it feels like two steps forward in tech and one step back in content (Sims 3 has had 11 full expansion packs). Sims 4 is shaping up and working out to be another great installment in the series, with more customization options than ever before. The Sims 4 is ready for you to play with your action figures again on September 2.

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