The Sims 3: Generations [PC]
Sims 3: Generations This week marks the second birthday of EA's unfeasibly
successful The Sims 3, and to celebrate, they're releasing the game's fourth expansion pack. Entitled Generations, this is the one where Patrick Stewart
goes back in time, has breakfast with Bill Shatner, and returns to find his crew crashed half the Enterprise into a planet. (Actually, that was a different Generations entirely, although at the rate The Sims 3 is adding new toys and features, it probably won't be too much longer before you really can use it to recreate your favorite Star Trek moments.)
So while its Star Trek content is pretty much zero, don't let that put you off. Instead, The Sims 3 Generations concentrates on adding new features and toys that'll appeal to Sims of all ages. Kids? They get their own imaginary friends. Teens? Parties, pranks, and awkward makeout sessions.
Young adults? Hangover-style bachelor (and bachelorette) parties -- and the
ability to "woohoo" in the shower. And for the older ones, there's the dreaded
mid-life crisis. Will your Sims dye their hair purple? Will they buy a fancy
motorbike? Will they have an affair with the housekeeper? Who can say?
Actually, IGN's Nathan Meunier probably can, after writing
this middling review of the new expansion. But he's more impressed with the comic potential of the game's teenage pranks.
"At one point," Meunier retells, "my angst-ridden teen
followed me to the abode of a potential love interest to cause trouble. He
hurled eggs at her porch and flung them at my prospective date when she came outside to yell at him. This continued until the cops came to haul him to jail for the night. Good times...thankfully Generations also grants parents the ability to punish their brats."
Fun though egg-throwing clearly is, Generations isn't the game-changer earlier Sims expansions have been, Meunier says. "It's not enough to entice the non-hardcore Sims crowd to stay," he concludes, and his 7.0 is indeed a lower mark than past Sims 3 expansions (like, say, World Adventures, which IGN awarded an 8.3). If you're in the market for a new Sims 3 expansion, the earlier packs sound like a better bet.
Garden Dash [Y!]
Much as you might like diners, all that greasy food is bad for the waistline. Here's a much healthier alternative. Garden Dash sees Flo's chum Barb take on a series of urban gardening projects across the rooftops and through the abandoned playgrounds of Diner Town. Can you fulfill the bizarre requests of your plants? Will you be able to keep up with the appetites of the townsfolk? Will you send out a batch of manure-contaminated lettuce and cause a mass outbreak of E. coli? Find out.
Hunted: The Demon's Forge [X360, PS3, PC]
Blending the cover-based shooter and fantasy action-RPG genres,
Hunted was allegedly nicknamed "Spears of War" during its development. Boasting the involvement of gaming veteran Brian Fargo, founder of celebrated publisher Interplay, will Hunted's focus on co-op two-player action overcome its somewhat generic look?
Good question. Review copies of Hunted were late in arriving to many critics, which is sometimes a sign that a publisher expects lower review scores and wants a few days of sales before the write-ups start appearing. On the other hand, feedback from consumers already playing the PC version is pretty good. Still, we'd advise hunting out a review or two before you pick this one up.
Echoes of Sorrow [Y!]
Can you make your way through the minigames, puzzles, and hidden-object hunts of Echoes of Sorrow? Boasting gorgeous artwork, a plot that'll keep you guessing, and over 75 scenes to play through, it's loaded. Better still, it marks many of its key objects with a neat graphical effect, making it easygoing on the hidden-object beginner. That means no getting stuck. So while the title may make it sound depressing, you'll cruise through with a smile on your face.
Duke Nukem: Critical Mass [DS]
Lock up your daughters: the blond, butch, and completely bad-ass self-styled king of action Duke Nukem is back this week...in a manner of speaking. This isn't the eagerly awaited Duke Nukem Forever, which, after an unprecedented 14 years of development, will finally be released in just two
weeks' time. Instead, Critical Mass is a retro-styled platform shooter boasting, it says here, 17 hours of gameplay across 36 action-packed levels.
It bears the name of the original Duke studio, Apogee, but don't be fooled. The developers behind Critical Mass are a new crowd and a bit of an unknown quantity, and although Duke fans will probably spit out their gum
at this suggestion, the crew-cut crusader has lent his name to some real drek
over the years. And debuting at a woeful 28% on Metacritic, Critical Mass is firmly in the "drek" department. Looks like the Duke's real comeback is going to have to wait until the 14th -- but after a decade and a half, what's another couple of weeks?