Generations addresses that beyond my expectations with all the new content and items added to the game. With fantastic items such as the tree house, slip and slides, and of course sand boxes there’s more fun to be had enjoying the child stage. However, for children I think the biggest part of this expansion has to be the imaginary friends. When your Sims have a child, there’s a chance you’ll receive a special doll in the mail that goes directly into your child’s inventory. As your child plays or sings to this new toy you’ll notice that alongside adding fun to your Sim kid’s meter, it will also gain relationship points with the toy. After a certain threshold is reached, your child can put the toy down and it will morph into an imaginary friend. This is handy in several ways, the main one being that your child can recover their social state much easier than having to pull your adult Sims away from their skill building and crafting, or inviting the rare friend over for a couple hours, or sticking them on the computer to chat with random strangers.
The other interesting item that coincides with the imaginary friend is a chemistry set that allows your Sims to build logic and craft special potions that do an assortment of weird and wonderful things. The Ninja Vanish Potion is always great for quick getaways as it warps you home when you throw it. Reminiscent of the Ninja Teleport we had in Sims 2 though it’s one way. The other is the Imaginary Friend Metamorphium which will turn your child’s Imaginary friend into a real boy or girl. There are several others items which run from turning your Sims into a ghost temporarily, or a fountain of youth potion, but these first two are by far my favourite. Some of them are also part of the new prank activity that is available to allow your Sims, both young and old, to commit some relatively harmless hjinks. Be it the Stink Juice, or tinkering with the shower so that the next user has their hair dyed a funny colour, pranks are cause for some hilarity.
Teens, especially those with the rebellious trait, will find all manner of ways to commit pranks, break curfew, egg houses or indulge the lovely brown paper bag prank we’ve all thought about doing to our real life enemies over the years. In combination with the Ninja Vanish potion you can get yourself away from all manner of situations and be a real terror as you prank your way across the neighbourhood.
Pranks, potions, playground equipment, and imaginary friend’s aside, the time also comes to educate your Sims and prepare them for adulthood and the many trials and tribulations they’ll face out in the world of big people. Education being important there’s some nice additions to the growing up experience that also makes playing through the life cycles more rewarding from a storytelling perspective and also to just have your Sims live a full life. Realism is available, right down to the angsty moods that teens find themselves going through that might liven things up as they may feel like committing all kinds of pranks, to disrupting their friendship with someone just for the hell of it because they’re feeling moody and contrary. Good thing you can ship them off to school during the day or your adult Sims might find themselves at odds with a cranky teenling who has set up all kinds of traps around the house.
Regular school offers up school trips to different community lots around town which your kids can enjoy, including picking up a collectible item from those places visited that can then be displayed in their room and so on. Or as a teenager, there’s the loveliness of prom to attend, either stag or if your teen Sim is involved with someone they might get asked to attend with that special Sim. A ride in a limo, the formal dress and a disappearance into a rabbit hole later and your teen could end up as Prom King or Queen with a crown to display on their shelf and even a prom picture with their date.
On the other hand, if you want a break from those pesky kids, you can sign them up for a boarding school that sends them off to stay at school where they will work, play, and even gain skills or advantages in a chosen field, depending on which private school you enrol them in. Private schools are especially great for large Sim families; or twins and triplets so you don’t have to micromanage the entire family all of the time. Private school is in some ways a smaller version of University we had in Sims 2 in so far as gaining an advantage in certain fields of later employment, but without all that daily studying, research, and exams you had to work through when playing Uni. It adds the spirit of the previous iterations expansion without the trouble, and gives a nice investment in your Sims child’s future.
I myself consider private school beneficial for your Sims, but I like to make sure they get the feel deal and won’t send them off until after Prom. Of course, when the time comes for the parents to be away for a weekend and your teen throws a party while you’ve stepped out, things can get complicated. If they get caught it’s off to military school, if they don’t get caught, I just laugh at my adult Sim’s obliviousness and chalk it up to my teen Sims reminding me of my own younger glory days. All in all though, from toddler to teen, they’ve added a wealth of experiences and fun for these age groups that makes them worthwhile to enjoy. However Generations isn’t done there!
Moving on up to adults, they’ve added some nice little touches to fill out even more the life adventure of adults. Bachelor(ette) parties for Sims on the cusp of getting married are amusing with champagne spraying, toasts, and the always exciting dancers that can show up to liven up your party. The weddings themselves are further enhanced with wedding arches making their return, and the special wedding cake that provide a cute memory for the new happy couple. It’s not all fun and sunshine for adults however. Once you move from young adult to full adult there’s a chance your Sim may suffer a midlife crisis, which brings all kinds of potential trouble as the aspirations that could pop up during this phase of life can range from getting a simple makeover to more extreme actions like an affair with another Sim, or divorce from their current spouse. Or it can be as simple as wanting to “Woohoo” in the shower or a tree house.
A new job option comes available with Generations that’s all about the children of your neighbourhood. Should you feel up to the challenge you can open up your adult to running a daycare and looking after the rest of your neighborhood’s misbegotten spawnlings while their parents are off to work. Don’t get me wrong I love kids, but on my play through this job, I swear my Sims ended up looking after the most evil, disruptive children possible. Rushing around dealing with pranks, cranky kids to feed all at the same time, and a silly daycare van to drive around, this new job isn’t for the faint of heart although definitely worth the torture for the moments of amusement it brought. The best part of all of this child care are the new strollers that were added that make it easier for Sims with babies and toddlers to manage them. Now you can throw them in a stroller rather than carrying them around everywhere or having them crawling all over hell and creation.
Finally we come to elders whom, armed with their new cane to walk around with or shake at those pesky kids are more crotchety than ever. They might want to sit and reminisce with their old friends and loved ones or even spend some time with the grand kids. However, at the same time, they’re often the target of pranks which can set them mumbling or shaking their heads at the way kids behave compared to their day (or a few hours ago of our day). The path to the grave is always there at the forefront for Elders of course, but it can be staved off either with the Young again potion from the Chemistry set, or the aspiration reward that can de-age your Sims back to a young adult. Or for those who just never want to grow old you can invest your aspiration points in the Never Age potion reward so they freeze in age while the rest of the world lives, ages, and dies all around them.
The last major piece included in Generations is the Memories system, with your Sims having their scrap book of memories with which they collect life experiences, successes, and failures This allows them to accumulate photos and memories of all the things they’ve gone through growing up. It’s not only a nice touch to the whole life experience and story telling options, but with the new Facebook integration it allows you to share your Sims adventures with your Facebook friends so you can compare or discuss what major events your Sims’ have lived through.
I’m well pleased with this latest expansion and really quite like that they’ve finally added content for the Sim kids that I usually either avoided having, or used a cheat to grow them up quickly so I wouldn’t have to suffer through the simple mediocrity of growing them up the hard way. Now you can actually enjoy them and go on new adventures with them discovering what else lays hidden in this expansion. All kinds of content, items, and clothing certainly make Generations one of the best expansions to come out for The Sims 3 and I definitely recommend it for all you Sims junkies out there!
Looking ahead before I score Generations, EA has announced both the next stuff pack, and also the next expansion. The Sims 3 Town Life Stuff is due out July 26th 2011, and The Sims 3 Pets is expected in Fall 2011.
Final Score: 90% (A-)
(Score Note: While it provides a lot of new content, items, and so forth, a new city neighbourhood would have been a nice touch with more lot options, and some more prefab community lots for kids, too. That and rather than rabbit holing the Prom sequence, it might have been nice to run it as a party of sorts at a community lot .)