The Sims 3: Generations Review
By Monica Bair |
The Sims 3: Generations bucks Sims expansion conventions. Previous Sims 3 expansions have offered meaty updates that enhance the classic life-simulation experience with new gameplay features and a glut of new items, like world exploration, hands-on professions, and even a vampire nightlife. The changes and nuances are more subtle in The Sims 3: Generations. I still got a kick out of giving my Sims über-hairy man chests, making "Woo-Hoo" in the shower, lighting bags of dog feces on fire, and creating home videos of my various shenanigans. But the value proposition falls a little short.
The Sims 3: Generations focuses on fleshing out and expanding the depth of the different stages of your Sims' lives instead of drastic changes to the core game. Unfortunately, it's hard to pinpoint the bulk of the new content unless you really dive back into the flow of Sim life and experiment. Even then, much of it is easy to miss. New options are woven into each of the main phases of Sim-life, from stumbling around as a toddler to growing old. Most of the updates don't jump readily out at you, though it's the teen and adult stretches that see the most interesting and exciting changes. Some of the more forgettable new features are strange additions, like optional body hair for male characters or the Sim mid-life crisis. But at least a few updates in The Sims 3: Generations have a meaningful impact on the gameplay.
Younger Sims in Generations will find extra content themed around imagination, creativity and playfulness. Babies come with a doll that can turn into an imaginary friend that only they can see. Fiddling around with chemistry can make their invisible pal a permanent addition to the household, which is a cool touch. This introduces a subtle extra level of task-oriented gameplay that made it more fun to manage my Sim kids. Hardcore Sims enthusiasts will eat up the new kid-centric items like playground structures, tree houses, and hop scotch pads, but I got more mileage out the updated toy boxes that let me encourage my virtual tykes to dress up in silly costumes and act out fantasy roles. Watching them parade around the house in a pink T-Rex suit or brandishing a magic wand as a wizardly prince is at least worth a few laughs, even if it's not a huge addition.
Things really ramp up for teen Sims. They can throw parties and attend special social events, and pubescent Sims also have raging hormones to contend with. They'll undergo wild mood swings at random – usually to comic effect. When this happens, they're prone to acts of rebellion, which is where Generations' new prank feature shines. Rebellious Sims can rig faucets to explode, plant whoopee cushions, and stick hair dye in the shower, and pranks get crazier when pulled on neighbors. It's easily my favorite fresh element in the game, as it injects some extra randomness and added comic relief into the daily grind.
At one point my angst-ridden teen followed me to the abode of a potential love interest to cause trouble. He hurled eggs at her porch and flung them at my prospective date when she came outside to yell at him. This continued until the cops came to haul him to jail for the night. Good times.
Thankfully Generations also grants parents the ability to punish their brats, from simple grounding and chores to boarding school. The dynamic between pranks and punishments makes for some hilarious moments. It was also amusing to see my younger Sims take things into their own mischievous hands when left unsupervised.
Adults have new opportunities to cut loose too. Expanded party events let you throw elaborate wedding ceremonies and bachelor/bachelorette parties, but it's not a free-for-all. There's a new romantic relationship system that tracks any romantic activities you engage in throughout your travels, and other Sims take notice of your romances. You earn a reputation based on whether you're faithful or attempt to steal other people's spouses. While it's another opportunity to wreak havoc, it's a rather dull addition though.
Other notable features were also worth exploring. The new Daycare profession has neighborhood Sims dumping their kids on your doorstep each day, and it was surprisingly fun to juggle their occasional tantrums, emergencies, and happiness. Purchasing new video camera items lets your characters record short home movies that they can watch on their TV sets. The best part was sitting down and popping these in the TV to replay those wacky moments, and this is easily one of the most creative features added into Generations.