The Sims 3: Generations is the fourth expansion for The Sims 3--the latest game that lets you live out the virtual lives of little computer people. Generations fleshes out the lives of sims who are of the child- and teenager-age levels by giving them plenty of new stuff to do. It also adds social media integration that lets you record key moments in the lives of your characters to your Facebook profile, if you so choose.
Teen life in The Sims 3: Generations seems like a real challenge if you try to make the most of it. Between school, which eats up five hours of your in-game day; homework, which eats up another hour; and your regular "motives" (personal needs for food, sleep, entertainment, and so on), there seems to barely be enough time to rig the toilet to overflow. Even though our teen took the new rebellious trait (which helps you pull off pranks and sneak out while grounded), we made the mistake of starting our first family of four (two parents, a teen, and a child) with a teeny-tiny house; it was so small that it was all but impossible for our little teenager to get caught by her grumpy father after she rigged the bathroom sink to spray him.
It was either that, or the fact that we got caught in the act while we were still rigging both the toilet and the shower for daddy dearest at the time. You know, one of those. Parents just don't understand, man. As a result, our first family's father, who had not been given Generations' new "nurturing" personality trait (which makes parents better around children) and who had instead been given Generations' new "dislikes children" trait (which makes parents worse around children), sent our teen immediately into a time-out. This takes a whole hour of in-game time, during which your sulky teens shuffle off to the nearest corner and mutter angry simlish gibberish under their breath the entire time.
We figured we'd seen the last of our teen's happy days and sent her off to bed. Yet, the very next morning, the phone suddenly rang to reveal that the parents of our family had just won a fabulous sweepstakes vacation for adults only, leaving our teenager in charge of the house. Both kids excitedly hopped onto the school bus just after the parents jumped into a taxi, without anybody realizing that the botched batch of morning waffles had set the kitchen ablaze because no one in the family could cook to save their lives. Oops.
Still, our eager teen returned home from school that afternoon and immediately called up every single school friend she could to get over to the house as fast as possible, ordered a pizza for our guests, and made liberal use of the unique social interactions that come with our teen's party animal trait--namely, "woo!" (This causes your sims to walk up to someone else and shout "woo!" while waving your hands around). Unfortunately, our teen's other randomly picked traits--bookworm and genius (which help a lot when solving logic puzzles)--turned the party into a bit of a downer when she, and everyone else, switched from excitedly chatting to quietly reading books and then falling on the floor exhausted to sleep. There have probably been better parties in history than pizza followed by wild gesticulations, followed by book learnin', followed by sleep. But before we could really raise the roof and get the cops on our case, our parents suddenly returned from their trip at 1:00 a.m., giving us only an hour of in-game time to clean up. We hurriedly tossed the pizza, used the "shoo" social to send all our friends home, and escaped punishment by the narrowest of margins.
Our time with a child sim was a lot more wholesome and probably much more positive on the whole. Well, no--maybe it wasn't. Because we equipped our child with the family-oriented character trait (which causes sims to love spending time with family members), he was always looking for playful pillow fights and quality time. What he got was ignored by parents who didn't particularly care for kids, a teenage older sister who was too busy preparing for a career in the exciting field of juvenile delinquency, and meal after meal of cold cereal he prepared for himself. So, he retreated to the world of make-believe, playing with stuffed animals, racing cars, and spending time in an expensive tree house his parents purchased to keep him out of their way.
Children can play in tree houses and playact royal addresses to subjects below, though they can also use these venues as a launching point for water-balloon assaults. Sadly, our self-absorbed family members were so busy avoiding each other that we didn't get any target practice, which is why our child instead used the new costume chest to escape to the world of fantasy. The chest has four different outfits: prince, princess, Tyrannosaurus rex, and astronaut. And, being hell-bent on getting our family's attention (no matter if it was the "good" kind or the "bad" kind,) we immediately went on a make-believe rampage that ended with our child smashing his sister's dollhouse to bits. This act definitely got a lot of attention from visiting neighbors, though our distant parents didn't witness the act because that would've involved actually spending time with their child.
Generations seems like it offers plenty of room to create family dysfunction, but to be fair, it has lots of other, more-social options to let players build happy families. It also has a built-in feature that handily reminds you when any of your sims have done anything notable. This quickly saves the event as an in-game milestone, which you can then transfer to your online profile at the official Sims 3 website; from there, you can then upload it directly to Facebook if you have your profile linked. Generations will be released later this month.