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- The Sims 4: Get to Work
In my review for The Sims 4 in early September 2014, I cited a user-made list of numerous features the game didn't have when propped up against its predecessors and I factored that into my ultimate score of 3.5 stars. That would be a relatively fair reaction; for longtime Sims fans, the lack of the open world, create-a-style, and build options were flaws egregious enough to blacklist The Sims 4 forevermore. But EA Maxis has been doing its best to play catch-up since then and convince them with continual patches and the upcoming expansion pack, Get to Work.
While the deeply-embedded lot-based system will likely remain unchanged for the lifespan of The Sims 4 (though I can tolerate this given the improved stability and graphics), the steady updates have chipped away at the wishlist. The last few free patches have added ghosts, pools, and a few new careers to the mix, and the latest Genealogy patch in February has given some relief to the generational fanbase for The Sims.
Of course, The Sims 4 still has a long journey ahead (fans still want garages, dishwashers, cars, and toddlers), but so long as the game continues on this path of redemption, there will come a point when most of its glaringly missing features will be addressed. Hopefully, we'll see the majority of these absences fixed with free updates instead of paid expansions.
But on that note, the upcoming Get to Work expansion will scratch off some bullet points on the wishlist, all while adding one particular feature that didn't make an appearance in The Sims 3: retail businesses. First, regardless of whether you purchase the expansion or not, you will receive the free update that includes up to two floors of basements (finally!) and one additional floor above. So all you fantastic builders out there will need to revamp your mansions soon.
On the throwback inclusion of retail businesses, Sims veterans will remember the Open for Business expansion for The Sims 2, a fact which may raise a few eyebrows. When I asked developers David Moitke and Graham Nardone about why they chose to bring back this feature, out of all the possible directions they could have gone, they wanted something special that fans have wanted for years, and stores seemed to fit the bill the best. Whether you're a player who likes building, crafting, socializing, or story creation, retail businesses touches upon all of these areas and your Sim won't need to quit its day job to maintain a store.
Within the six-hour hands-on time I had with the expansion (in alpha state) at EA Redwood Shores, I had the chance to create a black-and-white-themed bakery where I sold cookies, croissants, and cakes at Magnolia Promenade, a new neighborhood with four lots for businesses. A part of this was to test out the new baking skill, which I felt to be an adequate addition (Cowplant Essence Meringue Pie, anyone?), though I don't feel like a third cooking skill is all that necessary. When I have access to the full expansion, I will likely focus on violins or rockets as my main merchandise since they have high profit margins, but you can sell pretty much whatever you want. Do you want to open a clothing store that only sells bear costumes? Why the hell not?
Maintaining a business means hiring employees and making sure they don't slack off, as well as talking to customers to help sell your wares. So long as you ring up customers in time and have your inventory freshly stocked, you will end up in the black. Having a strong "curb appeal" is important as well, placing signs outside, keeping your store tidy, and perhaps boosting your potential sales by having a TV campaign. As you learn your way as a business owner, you'll earn special points that can be spent on retail-specific perks to make sales easier. Running a family business might be a good idea too, because you don't have to pay your family members out of your pocket and you can tell each of them what to do immediately by simply switching between Sims.
Certainly, the main feature behind "Get to Work" is the introduction of three jobs that require hands-on interaction: doctor, detective, and scientist. Doctors start off as medical interns, scrubs who can treat and care for patients, before eventually climbing the ladder at the local hospital and diagnosing patients and even performing emergency surgeries and child births. Along with this career will be sicknesses, which can spread from one Sim to the next if you're not careful. Make sure your Sims stay far away from sick friends who call them over for a seemingly innocuous chat.
Detectives can go on patrol as beat cops, giving out citations for fighting and littering, before going through their own CSI episode by collecting clues at crime scenes, interrogating suspects, and analyzing evidence. If you want to be corrupt, you can start a fight as a cop and then give out a citation for fighting. (Your tax dollars at work, Sims!) On the flipside, scientists collect research and specimens, and can create inventions and serums using various ingredients (not unlike the Alchemy skill). The SimRay gun is a particularly powerful invention that can freeze or mind-control other Sims (talking about corrupt cops…) to hilarious effect. The scientist can even enter a dimensional gate that can lead to the new alien world.
Yes, there are aliens now! Not only can you explore Sixam, an otherworldly area with bioluminescent mushrooms and purple soil, but you can create aliens from scratch as a Sim. Aliens come with a meatsack to disguise themselves among the regular human Sims, but you're free just to walk around as an alien without discrimination. Sixam is the best place to meet other aliens, have an alien dance party, or have male Sims become pregnant (oh, the slash-fic). It's also a cool destination to test out the new Photography skill which will allow your Sim to take selfies and easily place photographs on the wall. Purchasing a high-quality camera will provide more zooming options and a solid array of filters.
The Sims 4 Get to Work will release on March 31, 2015 for $39.99. I believe that with the new careers, the basement addition, and the retail business feature, this may just be about the right time to hop into The Sims 4 if you haven't already. I wouldn't blame you for waiting just a bit longer, though, to see how EA fills in the rest of the features. But for now, I'm ready to build Nick's Violin & Rocket & Tuxedo Boutique, because whether you're in an orchestra or traveling in space, you wanna look classy.