The Sims Superstar
Score: 8.8 / 10
the huge popularity of American Idol and to a lesser extent, Star Search
and a plethora of similar ďI-wanna-be-a-starĒ television shows,
itís hard to believe that it took this long for The Sims, the living
simulation PC game that is the biggest-selling and most-expanded (or so
it seems) PC title of all time, to have an expansion pack that lets you
reach for the stars of movie, runway and music fame. The release of The
Sims Superstar finally brings the quest for glitz and glamorous living
to Will Wrightís Sim world, and a few new wrinkles to the basic Sims
gameplay make this the seriesí best expansion pack ever.
the most anticipated Sims expansion pack, Superstar has risen to the top
of the PC game selling charts faster than a 50 Cent single, hitting
number one with a bullet. And itís easy to see why, because while the
basics of the game stay exactly the same while youíre in your Sims
residence, once you head out fame-seeking, Superstar is a lot of Simming
your Sim home, you still must maintain the basics of everyday living
that is the heart of The Sims gameplay. Even with the occasional hot
date or house party to break the routine, nothing can match the thrill
that comes from being recognized as a bona fide Sims Superstar diva or
prince of pop that comes from a lot of hard work, perseverance, and the
right connections in Studio Town that it takes to rise from lowly Sim to
a true idol. And once youíve had a taste of the good Sim life, living
in the average Sim abode in the quiet confines of a comfy Sim
neighborhood and going to work day after day just doesnít have the
same appeal. No doubt about it, Superstar will spoil even the most
ardent Sims fan for the lifestyle of the rich and famous, sans Robin
Whatís all the hoopla about Superstar? No middle-class jobs here. You can set out into the Sims world and become a movie or recording star. And hereís where the new gameplay twist comes into play. Before, you could go about your leisurely time living Sim life, and if you preferred to be a loner, it wouldnít really affect your enjoyment playing the Sims, even though attempting to acquire a large circle of friends and therefore becoming a
popular Sim could pay off with quicker work
promotions and more fruitful relationships. But if you were content to
have your Sims spend their downtime curled up with a good book listening
to some smooth Sims jazz on the stereo by themselves, it didnít make a
major impact on how pleasurable the game was for you personally.
Superstar throws a Donkey Kong-sized monkey wrench in that leisurely
existence if you have any aspirations on being a star. The biggest key
to getting ahead in the world of fame and fortune of Studio Town, where
everybody that isnít a star is trying to become one, is not only based
on hard work to develop a particular talent, but also relies heavily on
being well-connected. And that happens by becoming friendly with each
and every Sim that you can shake a hand with, wave to, or star kiss. In
Superstar itís not what you know, but who you know that lays the path
to Sim glory.
you donít try to develop some type of relationship with as many Studio
Town Sims as you can, forget about being a star. That includes some of
the famous real-life inspired Sims you can run into including Avril
Lavigne, Christina Aguilera, and the ultimate movie goddess herself, the
long-departed-but-resurrected-in-Sim-form Marilyn Monroe. Helping you
navigate through Studio Town is Lana, the town insider who is really the
gameís tutorial and hint provider. This is the first time in the Sims
that thereís an actual challenge gauntlet thrown down. If you thought
American Idol judge/recording producer Simon Cowell was hard to impress,
you ainít seen anything until youíve tried Superstar. You have to
work hard, make a ton of visits to Studio Town, and put a lot of effort
(and increasingly larger gameplay hours) into Superstar before you can
become the envy of many and peer of few (with a huge ďbling bling
gotta buy everythingĒ Simolean bank account to match).
the acquisition of important industry insiders as your friend and
steppingstone to bigger and better is made more difficult with the
significant role that non-playable characters have in Studio Town
superstardom. I havenít ever paid too much attention to the NPCís
that have been part of previous Sims expansion packs, except maybe Drew
Carey when he popped up at phat house parties. But with NPCís
including obsessed and devoted fans, paparazzo, directors,
choreographers, and even a butler that all have an influence on your
career (or lack thereof), roaming Studio Town, you have to give them the
props they deserve to move up the ladder of popularity. And how you are
perceived can change literally overnight. Thereís a new daily/long
term relationships bar that really tells you who your Sims friends are
for the long haul and who will snub you the next day for a slip up.
Sticking to the ďif it ainít broke, donít fix itĒ school of game development, Superstar retains the signature visual and sound features of the Sims. Visually, thatís both good and bad. Three years after its release, The Sims is really starting to show its age. Thatís even more apparent if youíve ever seen the better and actual 3D graphics of the console versions of The Sims.
thereís 150 new items that are highly detailed and can really spruce
up your Sims world. Some of the new items are the biggest yet seen in
the Sims, including a music studio, karaoke stage, and satellite dish.
Animations can be downright hilarious are still in Superstar. Some of
the best are when your Sim is giving the old karaoke singing a try.
Equally funny is posing for the paparazzo searching for a snapshot of
the next big star of Sims tinseltown, which you are hoping to be.
Superstar ascends to new heights. Since one of the main features of
Superstar is giving you a chance at becoming a musical idol, thereís a
whole bunch of great new tunes sung in the Simlish language of the
gameís inhabitants. Even when youíre not singing at a microphone the
game has great, snappy background tunage that will have you tapping your
feet and grooving sitting at your PC.
are a few problems with Superstar, but nothing worse than the occasional
choppiness and slowdown that occurs on your PC while playing, not to
mention a long loading time when you first start the game, especially if
your PC dates back around the time the original Sims was released (like
mine). Also, during gameplay, your Sims energy seemingly goes down a lot
quicker while you are walking the streets of Studio Town. Thereís
nowhere to sleep and re-energize quickly in Studio Town, although you
can be pampered like a Hollywood star with the many amenities in town
including a massage, mud bath, or visit to the local oxygen bar that
helps somewhat. This means you wonít always be able to make long stays
to Studio Town, and will have to make return trips home even though you
might be having a great time in the lights and glitz of Studio Town.
Sims finally get the star treatment they really deserve with Superstar.
Each expansion pack has added a new flavor to the game, but living
vicariously through your Sims in the Hollywood-like Studio Town while
trying to attain superstardom brings an exciting gameplay element that
has been missing from the everyday average Sims lifestyle. I honestly
donít think thereís many more possibilities for Sims expansion packs
before The Sims 2 comes out (I know, Iím sure to be proven wrong by
Will Wright and company at Maxis) so itís fortunate for Sims fans that
Superstar is such a great addition to their universe. And hey, an added
bonus while enjoying Superstar is you wonít have to deal with any of
Simon Cowellís putdowns on your road to Sims glory.
(June 15, 2003)
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