When I first heard the rumours about an expansion pack called “Generations”,
I groaned inwardly. It just sounded like a padded out version of Family
Fun Stuff with a bit of Celebration Stuff thrown in. As more
information started to become available about the pack, and EA
officially announced it, it started to look a little better than that.
It had a bunch of cool objects that many players had wanted for a long
time – strollers, spiral staircases, and bunk beds among them.
Even so, as I headed to London last Thursday, I still felt as though the
game I was about to play was nothing more than a glorified “stuff” pack.
I have never been so happy to be so wrong. From birth to death your
Sims can now live out each stage of their life to the fullest.
As well as having around 5 hours to play, we were treated to a demo from, and an interview with, producer Graham Nardone. The information below is gathered from a combination of the demo, play time, and interview. As always with these events, remember we were playing an early version of the game, so it’s possible the features and content could vary from the final retail version.
For toddlers in Generations, there are several new ways that the family can
take care of them. The new strollers that have stirred up so
much excitement in the community make it easier to take a toddler out of
the house. You just need to have a stroller in your Sim’s inventory,
and they’ll automatically use it when they go out of the house. However, I did notice that you can’t push a stroller through a gate, so there is a bit of putting the stroller away and taking it out again that I can imagine might get annoying in certain circumstaces.
Toddlers also haven’t been left out of the new playground equipment that comes
in the pack. They can ride the new spring rider playground toys – carefully supervised by an adult of course.
Also, toddlers now have the opportunity to begin a friendship which will last a lifetime. I refer, of course, to the imaginary friend. After your Sims have a baby, you might randomly receive a gift of a doll in the mail for them. If your new baby bonds enough with this doll, they will start to seem “real” to them. So much so, that later in life they will become an imaginary friend.
As you would expect, children get a lot of new gameplay in Generations. Generally so far in The Sims 3, I have found that the children are quite boring and one-dimensional, and I can’t wait to age them up to teens so they can do something more interesting. I think that with Generations, I will actually now enjoy playing a family with children. Shock horror! So what can they do that’s so cool?
Well for starters, there is all the new playground equipment. This includes the sand box, hopscotch courts, water slides (flat, on the ground – not into the pool), seesaws, the spring riders mentioned above, and of course, the tree house. In the sand box, you will see kids digging, building sandcastles, and of course, burying things (for example, their homework!). And these activities are not restricted to the sandboxes either, as you can expect to see your beaches to come alive with kids playing in the sand.
The other playground equipment particularly worthy of a mention here is the treehouse. If you ever had or played in a treehouse as a kid, you will remember that it was a spaceship, a castle, a pirate ship, a dragon’s lair, and so on. Kids in Generations can be just as imaginative, and you will actually hear some sound effects coming from the treehouse depending on what they are pretending right now.
How your Sim kids are dressed might affect how they choose to play in the treehouse. The costume chest makes a welcome return to the series, and kids act really cute when they’re dressed up. There are four costume options – dinosaur, astronaut, prince, and princess – each available in 3 colours. Depending on how your Sim is dressed, the way they walk and play will change. In fact, maybe their dino rage will make them go Godzilla on their sister’s dollhouse…
Now of course, in real life, if you did that you could expect some pretty serious punishments from your parents. And Sim parents just got tougher, because now the Sims is no different. Kids might get their favourite toy taken away from them, or they might get put in time out. This is really funny and cute, as your Sim kid will stand facing a wall looking really grumpy about the whole thing. They have to stay there for their entire time out, or until a parent is directed to let them off the hook.
Above is a picture of one of my kid Sims in time out, and that behind them… well that’s their imaginary friend of course. This bit really made me laugh, because my Sim kept on getting distracted by her imaginary friend, and her dad would get furious and make her start her time out over again. Just like the social bunny and the psychiatrist in The Sims 2, the imaginary friend is only “real” for that one Sim. With other Sims selected, the imaginary friend will be completely invisible.
With the chemistry set, your Sim can make around 15 or so potions (we asked about the exact amount, but Graham couldn’t remember, so don’t shoot me if 15 turns out to be off the mark!). Among those is a potion which will allow you to turn your imaginary friend into a “real Sim” (below). Of course, they’re still not quite like a real Sim, and they can turn back into their doll form (ie. the form in the ‘timeout’ image above) at will. Just like other Sims, they can age up, and have relationships. One thing I didn’t have time to check is whether you can, as an adult, woohoo with your imaginary friend from childhood. I would love to know if that is possible!
Other cute and fun new interactions for kids include having a tea party with your teddy bear (which gives a positive moodlet from having a fun tea party). But if that’s still not enough to fill your Sim’s time, maybe you should enroll your kid in an after school activity. Scouting and Ballet are among the many after school activities available for your Sims.
The final new features for kids, and these also applies for teens, are school-related. First, is the ability for parents to enroll their kids and teens in boarding school. If you really can’t stand to have your kids around, or if their behaviour has become unbearable, you can send them off to boarding school. Graham informed us that they will return shortly before graduating at each age. Second, your Sim kids and teens will now be able to go on field trips to community rabbitholes. The day before the field trip, a dialog box will appear telling you where the field trip is to, and asking whether you want to sign the permission slip. Your Sim will be excused from after school activities following the field trip.
If you’re tired after all that, maybe it’s time for your teenage brother to read you a bedtime story…
In Generations, teens get a chance to challenge authority like never before. If they have the new “rebellious” trait, they may well want to start pulling pranks, and stay out after curfew. More mild-mannered teens might prefer to join the after-school debate club. But, even a mild-mannered teenager will get the occasional mood swing. Mood swings are a new moodlet, which in and of themselves have no mood effect… however, during a mood swing, your teen will roll up rebellious wishes (which have purple backgrounds on the UI), which range from wanting to pull pranks, to wanting to fight with people.
Pranks range from booby trapping household objects – putting dye in the shower, setting up a sink to spray in someone’s face, blocking up the toilet, putting a whoopy cushion on a chair, or rigging a computer to show a “scary” face were the ones I spotted – to playing pranks on neighbours’ houses or even the school.
There are also new kinds of parties that your Sims can have as teenagers, including wild “teen parties”. Randomly, parents of teenagers might get offered short holidays, where they will disappear from the town. And while the cat’s away…
These teen parties can be broken up by the police, or by a parent returning early. And you can be sure that any parent returning to find the house in a state will ground their teen!
A grounded teenager is not a happy teenager, and unhappy teenagers will stomp around the place looking hilariously annoyed at the world. Maybe they should have had a much more harmless sleepover instead.
Assuming your teenager is (relatively) well behaved, you might want to treat them. How about a driving lesson? Teens can learn to drive in Generations, and although I didn’t try this out myself, but duckeggpie did, so check her blog for information.
Young Adults and Adults
One of the major new features for adults and young adults is of course the new bachelor and bachelorette parties. Once your Sim is engaged, they can now choose this party type, and they are just about as true to life as the developers could get away with, while keeping the game’s ‘T’ rating. Of course, your Sim might want to ask their best friend to make a toast to kick off the festivities, then the party can continue with plenty of nectar and dancing
Graham informed us that Sims will often strip off at bachelor parties, so at the end of the night you end up with a bunch of men passed out on the floor in their underwear. Maybe those Sims will remember the dancers. There seems to be a variety of different outfits that the dancers at bachelor and bachelorette parties will arrive in. These include firefighters, soldiers, and police officers. There is also a new interaction which will allow you to spray other Sims with fizzy nectar. How they react depends on the Sim, of course.
For the actual wedding ceremony, wedding arches and wedding cakes make a more than welcome return. There are a few styles of wedding arch, to help you set the perfect scene for your wedding. Of course, when you’re trying to set the perfect scene, you might want to first check that your Sim isn’t due at work, so they don’t change into their work uniform at the altar…
When you reach a certain time in your life, you will really enjoy reminiscing about the good old days. This is where the video camera comes in handy. Although of course using the new video camera is not exclusive to elders, they seem to really love watching the old tapes. But you’d better be careful what you get caught doing on camera. We were told that Sims will react to certain events on film as if they are seeing them first hand, so if you cheat on your spouse, make sure you’re not being watched.
More specifically for elders, you can choose for elders to walk with canes, which really makes the game seem more real. Elders can be friendly and cheerful, of course, but you can also get nasty bitter elders, who love nothing more than to watch the world go by… and disapprove of everything!
A minor UI change, but one that will be useful if you like to switch families a lot, is that there is now a quicker button for switching families. If you have an active family, and you go onto edit town, then click another occupied lot, there is now a small button there to switch to that household.
As well as the two new traits, nuturing and rebellious, there are seven new Lifetime Rewards, and I can see myself using some of these a lot.
Hover bed – 20,000 points
Well, what do you think? It’s a bed, that hovers! Graham told us your Sims will get a special moodlet from sleeping in the hover bed, and also woohooing looks pretty funny as the bed… bounces about.
Super nanny – 25,000 points
If you work in the daycare profession, your Sim will become really good at keeping the kids in line. They become less likely to pull pranks on your watch, and generally more obedient.
Clean slate – 25,000 points
Another aspect to this EP that I haven’t actually touched upon yet is that your Sim will build up a dating reputation. If you woohoo with too many people and never call them back, well, word gets around. This lifetime reward lets you lose your dating reputation so you can start over.
Inheritance – 30,000 points
A long-lost relative dies and leaves you lots of money. I don’t know how much because I didn’t manage to get enough points to buy it 🙁
Above reproach – 35,000 points
Public displays of affection will go unnoticed by passers by if you buy this reward.
Motive mobile – 45,000 points
Didn’t get to actually try this, but someone from EA told us that it fills up your motives as you drive, so you arrive at your destination with full motive bars. Cool!
Clone voucher – 45,000 points
Redeemable at the science facility to have a child-age clone of your Sim join the family.
In buy mode there’s plenty of new things to see, and if you want to quickly find all the new Generations items, you can use the new catalogue filters to show only content from that expansion pack. You can also choose to show only content from a couple of specific expansion packs. Given what I have read on some forums, I want to make this bit clear though: collections are NOT back. These filters are NOT like the collections we had in The Sims 2. You can only filter by EP, and store content. There are no themed collections. Nonetheless, the filters made it easy to find what was new from the catalogue. Graham confirmed that this filter will be included in the patch that is rolled out at the same time as the EP.
Obviously one of the cooler new objects is the bunk bed. There are 4
different bunk beds to choose from, and each is also available as a loft
bed. You can even put a desk under a loft bed to make the most of a
tiny bedroom, or to create a more stylish bedroom for a teenager. Of course, kids love to sleep in bunk beds, especially if they get to sleep on the top bunk!
Another cool item is the chemistry set, which I mentioned briefly earlier. Your Sim will wear the appropriate safety clothes when working with the chemistry kit, but of course explosions are still possible.
But I think my favourite change is one that you’ll find on the settings menu. Right below the slider where you choose the length of your Sims’ lifespans, there is now a slider for each age so you can choose how long each life stage lasts. So, if you just can’t stand having babies around, you can set them to 1 day. These sliders are “proper” sliders, unlike the overall life length slider, so instead of choosing from a bunch of presets you can choose exactly how many days each life stage will last.
And the verdict?
Five hours to play sounds like a long time but it really did fly by. I was having so much fun with this EP I could have played all day and then some. There are so many things I wanted to try but didn’t get a chance to… so now, I am going to wait impatiently for June 3rd so I can play for a looong long time! This EP is so feature packed, I am absolutely certain that I have missed some things out.