Review: The Sims 4 Cats & Dogs

Full disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. When you buy through Amazon after clicking that link, I get a little kickback, which helps keep this site going. However, I did not receive anything in return for writing this review. 

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?

The Good

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.

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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.

The Bad

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.

The Ugly

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.

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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.

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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!

Mabel: My Stupid Dog

Saying goodbye to the best stupid dog

It’s quite obvious that I am a cat person. If you didn’t know that already, then where have you been? I do have a special place in my heart for all the dogs we have had through the years though. One stupid dog in particular. But more on her later.

Offie (full name Othello), was my first dog. It took an exceptionally long time to realise that no, he hadn’t gone to live in the attic (a place four-year-old me wasn’t allowed to go). My parents had made the heartbreaking but wise decision that an ageing dog in the same house as four children under four wasn’t the best living situation.

It was a few years before we got Dizzy (full name Desdemona), an amazing Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever. I have an image in my head of Dizzy being quite a serious dog, but I know that in reality she probably wasn’t. She was certainly pretty well skilled with the ‘Toller scream’ (see – and hear – below). When she was a few years old, we decided to get a second dog, Mabel (full name Mabel.)

Mabel: The Best Dog Ever

I remember the day we went to get Mabel. It was quite a drive from our home, but I was so excited. It was unfortunate that when we got there we discussed she’d had a bit of a dodgy tummy, but because of the long drive, we had to take her home that day.

The smell of doggy diarrhoea is one I can remember vividly to this day. It didn’t help that my and my sister refused to put her in the boot because we wanted to play with the cute puppy.

Mabel seemed to stay as a puppy for most of her life, both in appearance and behaviour. When Dizzy was still around, Mabel was always beta of their pack of two, so never really needed to grow up. After Dizzy went over the Rainbow Bridge, we got Hector and Cassie. Mabel seemed happy to bow down to her feline overlords rather than acting like an adult dog. Even now, she has a cheeky smile as she climbs onto the sofa next to you, and she gets overexcited about any little thing.

She is getting older though. It’s what surprises me most when I go to my parent’s because I’m not there to see the gradual decline like when I lived there. When I visited last weekend, even sitting up made her pant. She wasn’t eating her food (although she was eating plenty of ice creams when offered) and would look at me in confusion when I tried to send her into the garden to go to the bathroom before bed. Whilst we’ve joked for many years that she was a dead dog walking, it became apparent that the date was fast approaching.

Saying Goodbye

When I left my parent’s last Monday, I made my last goodbye to Mabel. I was half expecting her to still be dragging herself around the house when I return later in the year.

It’s a weird thing with pets, isn’t it? That sometimes we know they’re going to die before it happens. It’s written into the calendar as something that will take place at a certain time.

My mum phoned me on Thursday to let me know the veterinary appointments have been made. One on Wednesday, for a checkup. One on Friday for the procedure. Part of me hopes that the vet may still turn around and say ‘Don’t be silly, she’s got years left in her.’ But it’s unlikely.

I know it’s not a decision that has been lightly by my family. It’s a topic we’ve come back to again and again. It is a kindness, to have her put down. But it’s still heartbreaking.

Owner lying on bed next to her red and white pet dog

Mabel has been around for half of my life. I don’t really remember a time before her. She’d been a constant companion – one of the best – and she’ll be greatly missed. Here’s hoping that my parent’s give her a good send off this week – with lots of ice cream.

A Good Send-Off

I’m going to be posting my favourite pictures of me and Mabel over on my Instagram throughout the week, so please check it out.

Love you Mabel, my stupid dog. Cassie, Moët, Chandon and Dizzy will meet you on the other side of the bridge.

Update: Good news! When Mabel visited the vets, they said they felt that there was one last thing they could try before putting her down. Something nmust be working, as at time of updating this post (1st Dec.) she is still with us! Fingers crossed we get to spend one last Christmas together.

Project Monday: Kitten & Puppy Bookmark

Introducing Project Monday

Project Monday is the very exciting name I have given my posts about current projects. When do you get them? You guessed it, Mondays.

I have been experimenting with a range of crafts, from card making to cross stitch, which means there will hopefully be something for everyone in this segment! Soon, I’ll be announcing the craft challenges I have set myself, so you can have a go at them at home! If you want to get a sneak peak at what I’m working on, I post to my Instagram fairly regularly (check out the cat photos too!) Now, on to today’s post:

Puppy and Kitten Bookmarks

This week, we’re starting off with a very overdue birthday present for my two youngest sisters. Like me, they both love animals; Amy is studying to be a vet and Jessie is studying animal behaviour. They’re also avid readers, so when I spotted this pair of cross stitch bookmarks on holiday in Brugges, it seemed like perfect presents for them! I swapped out the colours of the paw prints on the pattern for their favourite colours to make them a little bit more personal.

A sephia tone puppy cross stitch bookmark posted as part of my Project Monday
Puppy getting started
A nearly finished puppy cross stitch bookmark in sephia tones
And the Puppy nearly finished

The kit has taken a little bit longer than expected – work always gets in the way! I’m hoping to get the second one finished today, before backing them in felt and giving them to my sisters.

A partly finished cross stitch kitten in sephia tones
Kitten Bookmark in Progress
A partly finished kitten bookmark posted as part of my Project Monday series
And the kitty again – nearly finished!

 

The kit is made by Vervaco. It proved a little difficult to find online, but I finally tracked it down for sale here.