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Review: The Sims 4 Island Living (PC)

8

Great

Keeping with its pattern of announcing new content for The Sims 4 and releasing it soon after, the new Island Living expansion pack, announced at E3, is already here. Simmers will have to wait a while longer for the highly anticipated Realm of Magic game pack that was also announced at E3, but in the meantime, we have a brand new world to explore.

The Sims 4 Island Living introduces the world of Sulani, an island paradise consisting of three habitable islands. It’s an absolutely beautiful world where Sims can live and work, or simply visit for a day at the beach. Your Sims can enjoy the sun, the sea, and the ocean life. The islands do hold a few dangers as well, from tropical thunderstorms (if you have the Seasons expansion) to sunburn to volcanic activity.

While this pack has some obvious similarities to The Sims 3 Island Paradise expansion pack, the latter was a buggy, nearly unplayable mess. Fortunately, Island Living does not share that particular trait. In fact, the worst bug I encountered while trying out this pack was when one of my Sim’s outfits all got replaced by the same bikini. And because my Sims lived on the beach, they’re often dressed in swimwear, it took me ages to notice this particular glitch!

Create a Sim

Once again, the Sims 4 team has brought us an array of beautiful CAS items, and they even included some good stuff for toddlers, children, and masculine Sims. There’s a host of warm weather outfits and beachwear in colourful and fun styles, from coconut bras and grass skirts to loud floral shirts, there are dozens of options to get your Sims into the island vibe. I’m very happy to have some new swimwear options for Sims of all ages, something we’ve had very little of since swimming was added to the game.

There’s also a range of fabulous new hairstyles, including several curly haired ones. Luckily Sims don’t get frizzy hair, even in humid environments like Sulani, but some of the really big curly hairstyles are pretty close. This pack also adds an island-related aspiration, and the ‘child of the island’ and ‘child of the ocean’ traits for those Sims that want to feel really connected to the world of Sulani.

Island Living also introduces a new supernatural Sim, the mermaid. You can customise their mermaid form (which appears when they swim or bath) from a range of 4 tail styles and a pretty selection of colours and patterns. There are also some cool new eye options that can make your mermaid look a little more fearsome. While toddlers and children can technically be mermaids, they have no mermaid form or powers.

Unlike vampires, mermaids have all their powers from the get-go. These powers are not mind-blowing, but mermaids can do some cool things like change the weather (if you have Seasons), swim really fast, summon dolphins, or change the mood of human Sims with various songs. Most of these abilities use ‘hydration’, which mermaids have instead of the hygiene need. They will become miserable if they haven’t wet their scales for a while.

Both branches of this career, marine biologist and environmental manager, give a unique trait to your Sim when they reach the top, which is a cool feature that I hope is added to more careers in the future.

Career opportunities

One of the highlights of Island Living for me is the new career options. The teen part time jobs were unlocked for all Sims (of working age) in the free patch released just before this pack, so now any of your Sims can work as a barista or fast food employee. Island Living also added diving and lifeguard part-time jobs. Like the other part-time jobs, they don’t pay much and there aren’t many ranks to rise through, but it’s a nice way to bring in some income while giving your Sims lots of free time.

This expansion also introduces the conservationist career, which is one of those your Sims can either do from home or from the office, or a combination of the two. This career centres around the island of Mua Pel’am, the Sulani neighbourhood by the volcano. This secluded island is nearly untouched by Sims, but has been affected by pollution, invasive species and… litterbugs? As a conservationist, your Sim will receive various tasks requiring them to visit the island, take and analyse samples from the water and local plants, document the process by taking photos, chase away harmful wildlife, and more. As you work to improve the island, it will visibly change as you reach certain milestones, much like the town of Strangerville. Both branches of this career, marine biologist and environmental manager, give a unique trait to your Sim when they reach the top, which is a cool feature that I hope is added to more careers in the future.

In addition, your Sims can now take on odd jobs, regardless of whether they are employed elsewhere. These are brief jobs that range from moving furniture to finding treasure to being a hiking buddy to teaching a private diving lesson. Some jobs recommend certain skill levels, which will affect the outcome and the pay your Sim receives from completing the job. The weirdest one I came across asked my Sim to make a certain meal and mail it to the Sim who’d posted the job… But they got paid so I guess the meal arrived in edible condition! Odd jobs fit in well with the laid back island lifestyle, and are a great way to make some extra simoleans.

Build Mode

As always, this expansion pack features tons of new items for builders and decorators. These are mostly island themed, letting you create some really nice beach houses. There’s new beds, chairs, sofas and tables, as well as a bathroom set (sadly without a matching toilet), and various decorations to really bring that island vibe home.

There’s also new sliding doors, awnings, curtains, wallpapers and floors to create buildings that look like they’ve seen a bit of weather. There’s also a new stilt foundation that was included in the free patch. Besides looking pretty interesting, this allows you to build out over the sea. A host of tropical vegetation has also been included, rounding out the selection of trees/bushes/grass already available.

New items include lounger chairs, where Sims can nap or try get a tan (though be careful of staying out in the sun too long!). There’s also beach towels and inflatable loungers, which serve a similar purpose to the land loungers. Sims can also use aqua zip (jet skis) and boats to get around on the water.

The world of Sulani includes various pre-built lots, most of which look pretty nice from the outside but need a touch of redecorating inside, although there’s one house that contains several almost barren rooms. There’s also not much in the way of community lots, but both of these issues can be remedied with a quick visit to the gallery.

Gameplay

There’s plenty to see and do in the world of Sulani. There are new items to collect, from coconuts to seashells to other shiny baubles. Some of these can be obtained by combing the sand on the beaches, or diving in deep water, or perhaps even exploring the cave on Mua Pel’am. Sims can also go snorkeling, and perhaps make some dolphin friends. Back on land, they can build sand sculptures (or destroy the work of others).

Neighbours in Sulani are pretty friendly, and besides just welcoming you to the neighbourhood, they’ll sometimes bring you extra food. You can throw a kava party, where Sims come together to drink something made from the kava roots found on the island. The islands are also home to elementals, special ghost-like Sims who can pass judgment on your Sims.

Mermaids are a bit of a disappointment, however. They too look very beautiful, and their abilities are nice enough, but they feel a bit lacking when compared to vampires

Conclusion

The Sims 4 Island Living expansion pack looks really good. The world, clothing and build mode items are all really well done. It’s a colourful place to live. The new career options are a great addition, especially with a career so uniquely tied in with a specific location. Mermaids are a bit of a disappointment, however. They too look very beautiful, and their abilities are nice enough, but they feel a bit lacking when compared to vampires (from the Vampires game pack), who increase in power and can unlock a variety of different abilities. There is no such differentiation for mermaids, so they quickly lost my interest.

Overall, I really like Island Living, but I was expecting a bit more from the mermaid aspect. The rest of the pack should keep Simmers busy for a good long while.

This review was made possible by EA Game Changers.

Good

  • Beautiful new world of Sulani
  • Great new CAS options for Sims of all ages
  • New careers linked to the islands
  • New build items for that perfect beach house

Bad

  • Mermaids lack depth and customisable abilities

Summary

Island Living successfully captures the feeling of living on a tropical island, with beautiful sandy beaches and deep blue waters to explore. Sims can work to preserve the natural beauty of the islands or swim with dolphins and mermaids. There's not a lot of depth to the mermaids, which may leave some Simmers disappointed.
8

Great

Gamer, geek, LEGO fanatic. I also love Pathfinder RPG, The Sims, cross stitching, crochet, and sci-fi and fantasy movies, games & books. And animals.

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