Review: The Sims 4 City Living (PC)
If you already love The Sims 4, then this expansion is a must-buy for you. If you enjoyed the Late Night or Nightlife expansions, you will probably like this one, although the focus is less on nighttime activities this time (and alas, no vampires). As you can see from the length of this review, The Sims 4 City Living has a lot to offer, and feels quite a bit meatier than the Get Together expansion.
Nearly a year after the release of Get Together, The Sims 4 finally has its third expansion pack. City Living offers Simmers a range of new options to enhance their games. It’s reminiscent of The Sims 2 Nightlife and The Sims 3 Late Night expansions, but quite different as well. Let’s take a look at what City Living brings to the game.
Welcome to San Myshuno
The focus of this expansion pack is, unsurprisingly, the city. San Myshuno is a dazzling new world available for your Sims to live in or visit. It offers breathtaking views of high rise buildings, billboards, and rooftop gardens. This is a welcome change from the suburban worlds already in the game. San Myshuno is also one of the most beautiful worlds ever to be included in a Sims game. From the little details, like pigeons in the plaza, to the gorgeous apartment buildings, this world really is a visual treat. You can actually check out an interactive map of San Myshuno over on the official Sims website to get a taste, though it pales in comparison to the real thing.
The only downside of San Myshuno is that, like other Sims 4 worlds, the actual playable area is relatively tiny. Although there are high rise buildings as far as the eye can see, you’ll only be able to visit a handful of those. There are four neighbourhoods areas in the city (plus one park neighbourhood), each with a central plaza, a community lot or two, and a few apartments. The central plaza is accessible from any of the lots in a given neighbourhood, meaning you won’t have to go through a load screen to see what’s happening in the area surrounding your apartment.
I also felt that the city should have at least one restaurant in it, but since restaurants are part of the Dine Out game pack, they aren’t automatically included in the city. I placed one from the gallery as it’s just plain weird to have a city with no restaurants!
I could probably fill a whole review raving about the stunning new outfits available in CAS with City Living. There are new hairstyles, a number of new head coverings, and a host of new clothing items, ranging from rather strange modern/high fashion to kawaii dresses to formal, more traditional outfits inspired by a variety of non-Western cultures, which is a nice change. Male and female Sims both have a lot of new stuff to wear, but female adults get the best stuff, as is almost always the case in Sims packs. There’s a handful of new options for child Sims as well, which are super cute, but ultimately limited compared to what older Sims have available.
There’s also a raccoon suit.
City Living, as you’d expect from a Sims expansion pack, comes with dozens of new objects to use in your game – over 300 objects in total. As always, this includes a wide range of items, from new beds, kitchen counters, sofas, dining tables and chairs, and more. Several of these items come in ‘used’ varieties, perfect for that run-down first apartment your Sims will likely be living in when they arrive in San Myshuno. What I particularly like about these items is the potential for telling new stories – most items in The Sims 4 have so far been very shiny and new looking, so this is a nice change of pace.
There’s a huge range of decorative items to help bring the city and your Sims’ homes to life. Most of these either have a vibrant modern city feel, or come from one of the cultures that inspired the clothing items. There are tons of rugs and paintings to bring a splash of colour to an otherwise dull apartment.
New gameplay objects include the basketball hoop, which can be placed indoors or out, giving your Sims a fun new way to get fit while socialising at the same time. There’s also a new portable keyboard instrument, a gaming console, fireworks (Sims can now set themselves on fire while using these, or while cooking!), and a rather bizarre talking toilet. City Living also sees the return of the hookah/hubbly bubbly object, though it’s called a ‘bubble blower’ in The Sims. I’m not a big fan of my Sims getting high at every opportunity, but these objects are all over the place in San Myshuno for some reason, making an appearance at several community lots and festivals.
My favourite new object is the karaoke machine, which allows your Sim to gain the new singing skill. Just like with musical instruments, your Sim’s singing will be downright awful when they start out, but will improve as they gain skill points. Sims can sing alone or with a friend, and they can burst into song just about anywhere. There’s a nice variety of catchy songs that your Sims can learn.
There are also food stalls that pop up in the plazas and at festivals, allowing your Sims to sample one of the many new culturally-inspired dishes (including Japanese, Moroccan, Mexican, Filipino, Chinese, Vietnamese and Indian), or to purchase fresh produce. Sims can learn the recipes for these new dishes by eating them. They may encounter difficulty eating the dish if they aren’t used to using chopsticks or eating spicy food, or if they eat meat and they have the new vegetarian trait. There’s also a risk of death by food poisoning when trying the pufferfish nigiri dish!
A major addition to the game is festivals, which are a lot like the seasonal festivals from The Sims 3 Seasons. San Myshuno’s five festivals have a specific theme, and include the Romance Festival, the Spice Festival, the Flea Market, GeekCon and the Humor and Hijinx Festival. Each Sim week, two or three of these festivals will spawn in the central plaza of the appropriate neighbourhood, and you’ll get a notification that the festival has started. Each festival has a different vibe, and something different for Sims to do there. GeekCon features cosplay and a hacking competition, the Flea Market lets you buy new furniture or trade collectibles with other Sims, while Sims can seek advice from the romance guru at the Romance Festival.
The festivals offer a nice change of pace and help make the city feel alive, as townie Sims will flock to the area. However, after visiting each festival once or twice, I must admit they started to feel a bit same-y, as most involve your Sims eating, buying the festival’s unique t-shirt and snow globe, and socialising with other Sims. There are unique interactions available at each festival, but I felt there just wasn’t as much variety as I would have liked.
There are three new careers in City Living, and they are a hybrid of normal jobs and active careers like those in Get to Work. Your Sims can now join the political, social media, or critic careers, and can go to work every day like other jobs, or choose to spend some days working from home. This gives you the flexibility to attend festivals or hang around the city and meet people instead of spending the entire day at work. Sims will get a couple of tasks to complete while they’re working from home. For the social media career, this might mean posting a status update while at a venue, or reaching a certain number of followers. Wannabe politicians can try to secure votes from other Sims or protest in the street. I really like this format of careers and would love to see some of the existing careers adapted to this format. That being said, gaining job performance while working from home seems extremely easy, making earning promotions easier than ever.
Apartments & Penthouses
Apartments are probably the biggest addition in this pack. San Myshuno has several apartment buildings, each with 1-4 apartments to suit a range of incomes. Each apartment building is an immovable shell, which can’t be edited or placed in other worlds, something that has caused a good deal of unhappiness in the Sims community. You can’t build your own apartment buildings either, which has distressed some builders as well.
Beyond these restrictions, you can customise the existing apartments to your heart’s desire, as long as you stay within the confines of the building and your specific apartment. Also new are lot traits, which have been added to the base game for anyone to use, and include positive and negative traits like ‘romantic aura’, ‘penny pixies’, ‘gremlins’ or ‘needs TLC’. Lots can have up to three traits, with a few being fixed. Many of the traits offer boosts to certain skills, like ‘fast Internet’, which boosts geeky skills.
Living in an apartment means living in close proximity to other Sims. Apartment buildings have a small common area with a lift/elevator, mailboxes, and entrances to the other apartments on your floor. Neighbours might come and visit you (or at least hang around until they get bored), and if they’re making too much noise you can go bang on their door – this works both ways though! Singing at 3am may not be popular with the lady next door. You can also give apartment keys to friends, and they will pop in to say hi whenever they feel like it. For some reason, this seems to be almost every single day, which gets old fast. For some reason, if you give multiple Sims a key, they will all show up together, which is kind of spooky.
Penthouses are simply expensive lots on top of tall buildings where you can build freely – multiple storeys, pools, and so on. The views are amazing though.
Overall, I really enjoyed this expansion pack. The city/night time themed expansions in Sims 2 and 3 were among my least favourite expansions, but San Myshuno is beautiful, and there is a lot to see and do in the city. After the newness wears off though, you may feel you’re just doing the same old stuff in a different location. City Living doesn’t fundamentally change what The Sims 4 is or how it works (though it has introduced some performance issues I’m hoping will be patched soon).
If you already love The Sims 4, then this expansion is a must-buy for you. If you’re on the fence, I’m not sure City Living will change your mind. If you enjoyed the Late Night or Nightlife expansions, you will probably like this one, although the focus is less on nighttime activities this time (and alas, no vampires). As you can see from the length of this review, The Sims 4 City Living has a lot to offer, and feels quite a bit meatier than the Get Together expansion.
There’s also the issue of the recent price jump in South Africa, from R400 for an expansion pack to R650 (overseas the prices seem to be unchanged). This is quite an increase, and I wouldn’t be surprised if local sales suffer because of it.
You can check out the City Living launch trailer here:
Disclaimer: EA provided me with a game code in order for me to review this expansion pack. However, this has in no way affected the opinions I have shared in this review.