Yes, everyone is up in arms about the graphics. Mostly, I think, because it was expected that the franchise was going towards a more realistic style. I recall a faked teaser from a year ago that looked almost like a photograph, it was so realistic. I wasn't sure how I felt about that and when I first saw the initial "leaked" images for The Sims 4. I wasn't sure how I felt about this completely different direction either. Having seen about as much of the pre-alpha game as anyone outside of the studio, I can say it is not the game I was expecting at all.
And that is not a bad thing.
There is no getting around it. The graphics are cartoony. There is a definite Disney-esque feel to them. And if realism is what you truly live for, then this might not be the game for you. But if what you love about the Sims is the charm, the humor and the fantasy of being able to be anything...make anything...than I still think this game has tons to offer. I found that after watching the sims in motion and seeing the game in action, the cartoon aesthetic worked. It looked better in motion and within the context of this new world they have created for these creatures....our sims...to inhabit. In some ways, playing this game will be like directing your own Disney film. And as a director, I think you will be delighted with the new ways you can cast your actors and design your sets.
But the point is this: it is a NEW game. Not an expansion pack of the Sims 3. It is a whole new game. And they have decided to take the franchise in a direction that, while controversial to some, has a strong, distinctive look. It is a storybook come to life and you are the author. It wasn't what I was expecting and I wasn't sure I was going to like it. But once I got into it and dropped the preconceived ideas of what I thought it might be, I saw a humor and a twinkle in the eye that have been missing from our sims for a while now. The cartoon aesthetic feels FUN. I . for one, am looking forward to immersing myself in this whole new quirky world of The Sims 4.