Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Sims 3: Generations

I wanted to hold off on writing this review of The Sims 3: Generations for as long as I could so I could see as much of this new expansion as I could. But unfortunately, I've grown a little frustrated with the Sims lately, a statement that I'll explain in just a little while.

I've been an avid Sims player since the early days and, by and large, new expansions always get me to sit up and take notice. I especially liked the idea of this one: add more stuff for kids and teens to do. That's been one area where the Sims 3 has been lacking: while adults can do a lot of stuff, the teens and the kids especially basically only have school and skill building. So when I saw that they were dedicating an entire expansion to new stuff for the young'uns, I was pretty excited.

And there's some good stuff in this pack. I think I've seen most of it by this point. There are new characteristics for your Sims (such as the Nurturing personality trait for those Sims who love kids, or the Rebellious trait which is fairly self-explanatory). Kids can now pull pranks, such as rigging showers with dye packs. There are new objects, such as a chemistry table that allows Sims to craft potions that do various things to whoever drinks them. There are new objects, such as new playground equipment.

The school setting has been revamped as well. Now kids and teens can sign up for afterschool clubs to build their skills. They can go on field trips (which also build skills). There's prom (an addition that I love!). You can even ship your kids off to boarding school, which I've done a few times now. It's an interesting experience; you don't have to worry about controlling said kid, but you also don't have much say in what traits they develop while they're gone. It's a cool trade-off.

Also fun is the inclusion of the Imaginary Friend. Occasionally, after a baby is born, a mysterious aunt will send them a doll they can play with. If they play with it enough (which they do automatically; it seems to be a toddler's favorite go-to activity), the toy will "come to life" as an imaginary friend, a companion that only the child can see and interact with. But if the child has a chemistry set and a high enough logic skill, they can craft a potion that brings said friend to life for real. The friend then joins the family and can even be married. I've done that. It was kind of fun.

On paper and even throughout my playing, this was a good expansion that helped enrich my game. But I have a serious complaint about it, one that seems to be recurring for most Sims games: it shipped with way too many bugs. This seems to be a common theme for Sims games. After the initial release, there are a lot of problems with the game that hopefully get caught with the first patch. It's a bad way to do business, in my opinion, and lazy to boot.

And it's also infuriating. Twice now I've lost games because I've hit a bug that makes half my household unplayable (their picture disappears from the boxes on the left of the screen). I've had to delete two very fun games because I can't play them. Also broken is the family inventory when the Sims travel overseas as part of the World Adventures expansion. Normally, when you go overseas and buy a "big" item (such as a nectar maker or martial arts dummy), it would get put into the family inventory to be used when the Sim returned home. Not since Generations came out, though.

So I've learned my lesson: while I will plan on getting expansions for this game, I won't buy them right away because the development team apparently needs to finish their jobs. It's a shame. A franchise like the Sims deserves better.

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