Let’s get specific
EA’s PR description of the expansion probably actually describes it best:
Enjoy a whole spectrum of rich life experiences with your Sims! Start off in the imagination-fuelled world of childhood and embrace the drama of the teen years. Experience the complicated realities of adult life, then reap the benefits of growing up in each life stage. […] With new celebrations, dramatic life events, and all-new ways for your Sims to express their creativity, The Sims 3 Generations lets your Sims live life to the fullest!
Looks just like my mid-life crisis did
What specifically is new, then? Although many different additions apply, the most major of them are:
New parties – Such as bachelor parties, which can apparently get so wild that your Sim’s wedding can get cancelled! There aren’t any strippers though. 😉 You’ll also find plenty of other new types, such as school dances, graduation parties, and proms.
Rebellion and pranks – Teens can pull off some pretty sweet pranks on others—including family members and neighbors—such as burning bags of poo (“He called the $#!* poo!”) or exploding toilets. It’s pretty funny stuff, especially when it doesn’t go precisely as planned. They’ll also experience rebellious streaks where they do things just to get on your nerves… you know, like real kids!
Boarding Schools – Essentially, this is an escape for those with multiple kids who don’t feel like constantly tending to all of them. The chosen child leaves and doesn’t return until the next life stage; there are five different choices of schools.
Day Care – This is a new job where you can care for others’ kids working from your home. It’s great for retirees, but not so fantastic as a full-time position.
Nurturing – Sims with this trait can punish kids for bad behavior—you know, Supernanny style (in fact, there’s actually a new Super Nanny Lifetime Reward that’s sort of related)!
Chemistry – In other words, the ability to craft specialty potions (something also found in previous games).
Mid-life crises – Your sim can now be thrown into a mid-life crisis, which can—of course—affect everything from his relationships to his job.
Cloning – Yes, human cloning… er, Sim. Using this, you can produce a child identical to a parent.
Memories – Once again, you’re now able to track memories online and in a scrapbook, as well as create home movies of your activities for later viewing.
Imaginary Friends – Kids can develop these and actually interact with them. Although no one else can see them, they truly do exist! You can even turn them into a real Sim using a particular potion.
Plus some other new Lifetime Rewards and Create-A-Sim features (such as body hair).
Only to be divorced within six months
While there’s a solid list of additions to sift through in Generations, most of what’s here is very subtle to the average player. As opposed to your typical expansion of length and quantifiable content, think of this more as a vertical expansion of sorts: an expansion of depth. Generations represents a wider range of options and variance throughout each stage of a Sim’s life, and thus places a greater focus on each individual life stage.
A glorified Stuff Pack?
Some have criticized Generations by calling it a glorified Stuff Pack. While it’s easy to complain about the lack of explicitly new content (something which also makes this a very difficult product to review!), this is the sort of expansion whose value only becomes truly apparent after quite a lot of play time.
Just to throw some numbers at you, there’s more than a dozen new objects, ten new community lots, and multiple ways which other new features can be utilized. For instance, the aforementioned imaginary friends can translate to romantic interests (weird), the childrens’ tree house can be used by kids to play a variety of games (and even by adults to get it on), and the pranks (of which there are probably a couple dozen total) can add up to a reputation for being a teenage hero amongst the Sim’s young peers.
In addition to that, there are countless other minor touches which have been added that simply enhance an already deep Sims experience. Stuff like Sims checking for wrinkles in the mirror as they age, kids play in the sand on the beaches—it’s a pretty bizarre and disconnected set of subtle, depth-based enhancements that the team has chosen to implement, and quite frankly, it does infuse some additional life into the everyday, overall action of the original game content. Additional things which aren’t always immediately separable from the core game itself.
Granny showcases the new punishment features
Having said that, pricing criticism is more understandable. Considering that the original full game of The Sims 3 was only $50 at retail, pricing this expansion at $40 is a bit of a stretch. As cool as it is, it certainly doesn’t come close to doubling the amount of content in the game—and seeing as a lot of the features which are added by Generations were actually present in previous versions of the game (2 and before), it’s not all 100% new, either. The biggest gripe of all is perhaps the superficiality of the additions with respect to the asking price: while most of them are indeed pretty neat layered complications, they often don’t have far-reaching or otherwise long-lasting effects on the course of the game. So to that extent, it might be most accurate to label Generations a Spice Pack—one which simply adds additional seasoning (for that extra kick) to what’s already part of the core content. Whether or not your Simaholism mandates a purchase of said subtle expansionary material is entirely up to you.