Cool Kitchen Stuff Pack Review

Let me preface this review by saying one thing: I don’t actually like ice cream. I’m aware that this is not the norm, but I’m not a huge fan of the way the cold substance feels against my teeth or the texture. Now that I got this off my chest, let’s dig in (pun semi-intended). After all, the proof is in the pudding ice cream (ok, I’ll stop now).

CAS

The CAS items were the main incentive for me to buy this pack. You do get a fair amount of them; 5 female hairstyles, two male hairstyles, 8 tops for men, 7 tops for women (more tops for men than for women? That’s got to be a first!), 3 pairs of bottoms for the ladies and one pair of pants for the gentlemen.

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There’s also one full body outfit for each gender, which incorporates an apron – aside from this one, I have no idea what any of the remaining CAS items have to do with cool kitchens, but I’m not complaining. I can actually see myself using a lot of these. While some of the female hairstyles are a bit eccentric and will require a certain type of sim to pull off, I’m very pleasantly surprised with the clothing.

There are no shoes and no CAS items for children – not that I particularly expected any.

Objects

This is where my main beef with this stuff pack is. I understand that the kitchen set comes in 9 different swatches, including a fun red and blue, the classic black and white and woodsy tones. I also appreciate that the counter needs a variety of iterations for corners and such.

But one new kitchen set only just doesn’t seem like enough for a pack that’s called Cool Kitchen. The clue is in the name.

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In a similarly disappointing fashion, there is only one table and one chair to correspond with said kitchen set. While I have nothing against the chair or the table, and I’m sure I’ll make use of them in some of my houses, they are not the most interesting of items. The chair, in particular, reminds me of the cheapo kiddie chair from the base game – I included this in the picture above for comparison.

An unexpected favourite of mine is actually the new painting, which comes in 18 different variations. At approximately §300, it’s a handy one for decorating starter homes and seems rather versatile too.

New Gameplay

As you might expect, given my predisposition towards ice cream, this is hardly one to sway me over. That being said, I am impressed that there are 30 different ice cream flavours, 8 toppings and 10 garnishes for your sims to combine. While I’m not a fan of ice-cream, my sims might be.

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Actually, I’m not sure they are! As far as I can tell, not much of an indication whether my sims are enjoying them more than a garden salad. Some simmers have reported they have seen their sims getting moodlets from the new treat, but 5 batches of ice cream later, I have yet to witness this in my game – in spite of one of my sims being a foodie!

Overall Verdict

At $10, this is not a purchase to cry about, though I can’t say I’m raving. While the CAS items are my favourite part of the stuff pack, I would actually prefer if this addition came with, you know, more kitchen related items as the name implies.

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I feel that the SP would be worth the price tag if it came with 3 kitchen sets instead of one, and I would also like to see more appliances, such as a food processor or a trash compactor. The ice cream maker is probably wasted on me, though I’ll try to treat my sims with the occasional cone or bowl for a bit of a diversion.

I am a compulsive collector, and was fairly aware of what I was getting myself into with getting this pack. However, if your self-control is a bit better, I would suggest that you skip this one or at least wait until it’s on sale.

 

Spa Day – First Impressions Review

If you have been wondering whether Spa Day is a pack for you, you’re in the right place. I’ve been exploring what the new pack has to offer all evening, and although I have not yet played enough to provide a detailed in-depth review, I’ll do my best to share as much information as possible along with my first impressions.

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CAS
Whenever I get new content for The Sims, I typically gravitate towards CAS first. More specifically, the hair section. There are three new hairstyles of men (two of which are actually unisex options) and five new hairstyles for women. While the former is quite meh at the very best, the female hairstyles are gorgeous and I can see using several of them on a regular basis. The only small complaint I have is that it is not possible to change the colour of the headband of the female updo with bangs, but alas, it’s adorable nonetheless.

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In terms of clothing, there is plethora of fitness gear for both men and women – 8 new tops and 6 new bottoms for each gender to be exact. In terms of full body outfits, these are mainly robes and towels, which actually act as quite a fun part of gameplay – but I’ll get to that later. Your sports-minded children are less fortunate than their parents and older siblings; they only get one top and one pair of pants (plus a robe, of course).

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Venues
4 venues come with the pack, out of which three are classed as a spa and 1 is considered a gym: The Center of Center Massage, Aham Ashram Yoga Studio, Perfect Balance Spa and Luxe Health Club. All of these will automatically pop up in your library and can be plopped in any of your existing worlds – this includes Granite Falls if you have the Outdoor Retreat pack.  I play tested this and am thrilled to confirm spas are fully functional in Granite Falls, giving getaways a whole new meaning. Hello relaxing honeymoons!

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Depending on the objects placed in the venue, your spa will be populated by NPC yoga instructors and reflexologists whose sole purpose is pampering your sims and helping them achieve enlightenment.

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Objects
Before I jump into the obvious premium content objects, let me get the less exciting items out of the way – there’s an all new kitchen and some very swanky gym equipment, so even sims who have no patience for zen moments may appreciate the new additions.

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One of my favourite new objects came as quite a surprise to me: Lockers. Upon arrival to a spa, your sims will automatically head to the locker rooms to change into their robes and slippers. While technically this is not something that is necessary for gameplay, it adds a nice element of realism to the spa experience. Not to mention, spas are the perfect place to gossip and scheme (so much for the said enlightenment).

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New Gameplay
Picking your preferred way of relaxation is as hard as it gets for your sims with this game pack. This is now tied into the new Wellness skill – the better your sim gets at relaxing, the more they become at one with sim earth… or something like that. Meditation is where the Wellness skill becomes most obvious; while quite boring on its own, if your sim gets good at it meditation will turn into levitation, and ultimately teleportation. None of my sims got quite that far on the –ation scale as of yet, so this is something I’ll need to report on later.

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Unlike watching your sim meditate, yoga is a very entertaining sight, in particular if your sims are beginners. The animations of them struggling to keep balance are priceless. If you sims are willing to shell out some cash, they can ask a yoga instructor to start a class and have a pro show them how it’s done. Note that both yoga and meditation are tied to the new mat objects, s you can’t just do them anywhere. However, this does make me wonder if placing a couple of yoga mats in the park would spark outdoor yoga sessions – certainly worth a try.

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Your sims can now also soak in several types of relaxing and get or give a variety of massages; either on a massage chair or table. The fertility massage could even help you get a jump start on your big happy family. Speaking of which, there is a new woohoo spot, the sauna. Don’t get your hopes up too much though, as the animation for this is essentially having your sims disappear in the mist.

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Final Thoughts
I still have a lot more exploring to do with Spa Day, but I would wholeheartedly recommend getting the pack as it does seem to enrich your sims’ lives quite a bit. While the lack of items and activities for children is a bit disheartening, what seals the deal for me is the way Spa Day compliments Outdoor Retreat and vice versa. I was afraid the two are going to be completely isolated experiences, but seeing how compatible they are makes me very hopeful for future game packs.

Newcrest – First Impressions Overview

While I am mainly a legacy style player, meaning that I like to stick to one sim family for several generations, I always get restless if I play in the same area for too long. That’s why in The Sims 3, I often uprooted my legacy family and moved them to a completely different environment, and I appreciated the diversity of all The Sims 3 worlds. Naturally, once Newcrest has been announced I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it to give my sims a bit of a change of scenery. Come join me on a first impressions tour of the new world!

The map view of Newcrest shows us the world is divided into 3 different areas, which is already more than we have gotten with the worlds that came as paid content. I commend EA for releasing this as a free update, as it shows they do listen to the simming community (and lets face it, is probably going to help them with the sales of the Perfect Patio Stuff pack coming out next week). I’m going to refer to each of the neighbourhoods within Newcrest in the order I visited them in for the purpose of the review (see image above).

Neighbourhood 1 A

The first thing that struck me when I loaded up Neighbourhood 1 was that we are definitely getting closer and closer to the city. Some of the background buildings seem very reminiscent of apartment style buildings – perhaps this is a hint of a city life expansion on the cards in the near future? (Note, I firmly stand in the semi-annoying toddler fan group, meaning that my preference would be a family-oriented EP before anything else, but let’s be honest… I’m bound to jump on whatever expansion pack comes out next just the same).

Neighborhood 1 B

To me, Neighbourhood essentially looks like an extension of Magnolia Promenade. The area is lovely and looks ideal for a commercial district, but it doesn’t necessarily add much of a new feel. Considering the minuscule size of Magnolia promenade, an additional neighbourhood with a similar style is not necessarily a bad thing though. I also do enjoy the canal flowing through this neighbourhood, since it adds more character to the area – in spite of it mainly being just for show.

Neighborhood 2 A

Neighbourhood 2 is probably my favourite addition to the game. The area combines a a park-like region with the backdrop of skyscrapers – Central park anyone? I feel like this neighbourhood is the biggest change of scenery and look forward to placing hip urban developments in the area for all of my young and trendy sims who are way cooler than I am.

Neighborhood 2 B

I also feel that the second neighbourhood features more details than the other two, such as the adorable boat in the picture above. The only downside is that there’s no way of getting your sims close to them, but I still enjoy the new backgrounds. On the other hand, I have the impression that the backdrop areas seem to get more blurry in Newcrest than in the existing worlds, but I’ll have to play in the area a bit more to be sure.

Neighborhood 2 C

The skyscraper-free area of Neigbourhood 2 reminds me of the Willow Creek neighbourhood where Oakenstead and Cypress Terrace are. Considering I find that particular neighborhooud the richest and most interesting area that came with the default game, this can only earn brownie points with me.

Neighborhood 3 A

Finally, we get to Neigbourhood 3. Again, high rise buildings are prominent in the background, but this area includes a lot more foliage than the previous two we visited.

Neighborhood 3 B

It sort of feels like Magnolia Blossom meets Sims 3 Into the Future, and the emphasis on nature so close to the big city is an interesting concept. My initial thought when I saw the neighbourhood was that there was a lot worth exploring and I wouldn’t be surprised if it even had a secret passage to a new hidden lot.

Neighborhood 3 C

However, on further inspection I realised that your sims can only venture into a small portion of the area and most of the park is indeed just a backdrop once again. As I said, I am always on the lookout for a slightly different scenery, but I can’t help but feel that minimising this into scenery only is a missed opportunity.

All in all, I am quite pleased with the new world though – the sheer fact that all of this content is available to everyone for free makes it hard to complain. I do hope that we will get more diversity in future world themes to allow players to have a truly different experience, even if this means the experience is paid for. Until then though, I am grateful for having the possibility expand without being restricted to the same old lots I’ve played with before.

Side Note: I have not touched on the fact Newcrest is a fully blank slate. In previous Sims games, this would have been a serious issue for me, as I am by no means a great builder and I am only in the mood for building every so often. With the brilliance of The Sims 4 gallery and EA’s inventive idea of inviting the best of community builders to create homes for the world under the #buildnewcrest tag, this is no issue at all. Of course one can think it’s a sneaky move of EA to put all of the responsibility of populating the world with houses on the community, yet you can’t deny the genius of the idea nonetheless. Sure they made it easy for themselves, but with having such an elegant solution at their disposal (and getting two birds in one stone in terms of the community promoting the world’s release), who can blame them? I for one am completely happy with the solution, and am heading to the gallery to download some of the homes tailor-made for Newcrest as we speak.

What are your thoughts on Newcrest?