Have you ever wanted to be a crazy cat lady? Create a literal designer dog that looks like its owner? Or price gouge people at your own vet clinic? Then the Sims 4 Cats & Dogs is for you.
Cats & Dogs is the fourth Sims 4 expansion pack, allowing you to add customisable cats, dogs, puppies and kittens to your Sims family, purchase a veterinary practice and spend the same amount of time caring for your digital pets as you would real ones.
First thing’s first. “Motherlode”, “Motherlode”, “Motherlode”. There’s no point playing the Sims with less than $300,000. There’s especially no point playing the Sims 4 Cats & Dogs without at least $500,000. Why? Because Sims are autonomous beings and trying to get one to focus on entertaining, feeding and toilet training a toddler is hard enough without throwing cats and dogs into the mix. You may as well hire a cleaner and a nanny from the start. So CTRL+Shift+C and “Motherlode” away.
Now that’s out of the way you can focus on raising your little family to be upstanding citizens of Brindleton Bay. I’m kidding…who has time for that! The Sims 4 Cats and Dogs is a very involved game. To start with, you’re going to spend at least 1 hour creating your family and another 4 hours perfecting your Grand Designs worthy home. There’s so many choices to make – the Wooden Windsor Puppy Perch or the Could Use More Pillows couch? Perky or creepy Sim walk style? Toddler wearing a Darth Vader helmet as formal wear or no?
The Sims 4 Cats and Dogs adds some refreshing elements into the sometimes tedious design process. You can create your dream kitten from multitudes of cat breeds, fur styles and DNA mixes. You can do the same for a puppy, however if you’re like me you just adopt the first one that is auto-generated because you can’t bear to leave him behind. When you move your pets onto their new block of land, you then have the challenge of designing a house that can accommodate the many accessories that are included in the expansion pack, including obstacle courses, litter boxes, balls and automatic feeders.
Once the house is built, it’s time to unfreeze your family and let the autonomous madness begin. Gameplay started off well for me, toddler Indigo loved babbling at and hugging the kitten. Zeno, the man of the house, enjoyed setting the obstacle hoops on fire and expecting the puppy to jump through them. Mum Lei enjoyed turning the tv on and then walking away. But calm family life quickly degenerated. Firstly, I forgot to feed my pets. Secondly, the puppy pooped on the living room floor. Thirdly, I couldn’t find the tiny kitten and puppy in my mansion amongst the incredibly uncomfortable, yet modern furniture. Zeno had to rush around at midnight, while busting for the toilet, to feed and hug the pets. Lei was no help as instead of feeding the pets, she went and splashed in a questionable puddle left on the floor by Zeno. I quickly realised that this version of the Sims will take a little more effort than the standard eat, sleep, fend off grim-reaper, work, repeat format of the past 17 years.
Not to worry, the addition of pets doesn’t limit you to cleaning up poop in the backyard all the time. Cats & Dogs introduces a new township with four distinct areas and you can take your pets along as you explore this new world. Take the dog for a walk and you can socialise with multiple other pups down by the Cove. Travel with the cat to the Veterinary Clinic and you can meet other like minded pet owners. These locations a well designed with lots of paths to follow that lead to endless ocean views, clear streams to paddle in, and greenery all around. The usual Sims attention to detail is apparent, with each location themed to the highest degree with colourful buoys and seaside posters on the docks, a pirate ship playground at the dog park and nautical sculptures on Deadgrass Isle.
The main downside of the Sims 4 Cats & Dogs is the fact that you can’t control the animals. This proves frustrating when you’re down by the bay and the dog wanders off to eat trash. You have to constantly chase your pets or keep them on a lead to ensure they stay near to your Sim. This also means that you can’t see a status bar indicating your pet’s needs. Instead you have to keep a constant eye on their thought bubbles to determine if they’re hungry or tired. You eventually get used to this, but it does mean that splitting your time between each family member and all of your pets is something to practice. On the plus side, you end up developing great relationships with your family quite quickly because you don’t initially have time for anything else.
Despite the initial learning curve, Cats & Dogs is a welcome addition to the Sims 4. It adds enough of a challenge that the Sims 4 is a game I’d happily pick up again. Players are forced to develop different time management and gameplay skills to accommodate for their pet’s needs and this gives you the rare opportunity to focus more on building relationships within the game rather than focusing on a career or hobby as is usually the case. On top of this, it’s the perfect DLC for those of us who would love a furry friend but don’t have the space. It’s definitely worth the low cost price tag to give your dusty copy of the Sims 4 a new lease on life.
Released: November 2017
Platforms: PC (Windows 10)
Developer: EA Games
Publisher: EA Games</p