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I have been playing computer games for as long as I remember. That sounds like an exaggeration, but it’s true. One of my first memories is sitting on my dad’s lap, playing The Secret of Monkey Island – still one of my favourites, especially now I understand the jokes that went over my head as a babe in arms. For my eighth birthday, my grandmother bought my two games: Tomb Raider II, and The Sims. And so began a lifelong love of simulation games. I remember spending hours playing that first Sims game, followed by every expansion pack. Even when I wasn’t playing, I was designing houses on sheets of paper, trawling through the official guidebooks to select furniture. This continued into Sims 2, 3 and now 4.
As a base game, Sims 4 has been my favourite yet. It received a lot of criticism for not shipping with certain features (basements, swimming pools, toddlers), but learning from their mistakes with Sims 3, EA has been careful to expand the game slowly through both free additions with patches and paid expansion, game and stuff packs. The latest expansion pack, Cats and Dogs, was no doubt the most waited for – but was it worth the wait?
As each version of The Sims has had it’s own pets based expansion pack, Cats and Dogs is no doubt the most thought out. The decision was made to restrict the expansion to just two additions. In contrast, The Sims 3 Pets added cats, dogs, and horses (including unicorns), plus small pets, which could be found all over the open world at random. The ambition is to be commended, but is it any wonder why that’s when it all started to go wrong for Sims 3? I personally never successfully added a horse to my sims’ family – it always crashed the game. So whilst it was a move that resulted in criticism from many, focusing on just two animals seems to have been a wise choice.
‘Create a Pet’ has brought back many customisation features that are missed elsewhere in the game, which possibly suggests a wider roll-out later down the line. Whilst I haven’t played with them extensively, the ability to literally paint spots on your dalmatian’s back is great for users wanting to truly make the game their own. Being able to put a piece of toast on my cat’s head was also much appreciated. But I kept it simple for my first playthrough, and just recreated a cat I know and love – Roxy.
Whilst pets aren’t playable characters this time around, you can give them traits that will influence their autonomous behaviour. Virtual-Roxy is affectionate, clever and spoiled – much like the real one. This made her act quite differently to the stray I later adopted, Tom, who was a free spirit, mischevious and a prowler. I found this actually made the game more fun, as I never knew what the cats were going to do next.
I, of course, can’t talk about the game without mentioning the new vet career. However, this is slightly misnamed. Becoming a vet operates more like buying a shop or a restaurant than getting a career. Whilst a great addition to the game, this does mean I haven’t explored the feature much yet – Gone is my excitement over designing buildings, and I don’t have enough time to play to make my sim rich enough to buy one. But the small elements I’ve played were enjoyable, and I look forward to exploring it more.
One of my few qualms about the game is this – for a game solely about cats and dogs, there’s really not that much for cats to do. As a regular cat walker, I wanted my sim to be able to harness train their cats and take them out too! (Maybe a future mod will fix this for me?) You also can’t teach them tricks, so you’re limited to getting them to run an obstacle course to build your Sims’ Pet Training skill in a cat-only household. Neither of these things are massive issues but would have added new features to the game that hadn’t featured in previous versions.
My main problem with the game is one that I have had for a long time. Whilst the overall aspiration system is, in my opinion, an improvement over previous games, giving you little goals to complete over a Sims’ lifetime, new aspirations have been few and far between. The Sims 4 Cats & Dogs adds only one, the Friend of the Animals aspiration, which even in my short time playing I’ve been able to complete. For a casual player, this may be less of an issue, but for someone like me who loves a challenge, I’d love to see more aspirations in the game in the future.
As in, graphics problems. I’ve never noticed any graphics problems in The Sims 4, until this expansion pack.
There are so many clipping problems.
And when it’s not clipping, it’s weird moments like the one pictured below.
Here’s hoping they get that cleaned up in a future patch. Until then, I’ve been turning a blind eye to those little problems!
So, there we have it. The Sims 4 Cats & Dogs – in my opinion, an essential addition to the base game. Just don’t be expecting anything revolutionary.
If you have been purr-suaded by this review, you can pick up the game by clicking on the picture above. When you make a purchase on Amazon through this link, you’ll also be supporting me and Roxy to keep this site going! Then, be sure to let us know what you’ve been up to in game!