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Platform

PC

 

Genre

Living Sim

 

Publisher

Electronic Arts

 

Developer

Maxis

 

ESRB

T (Teen)

 

Released

Q2 2003

 

 

- Best Sims expansion pack

- More-interactive NPCís

- Actually challenging social interaction gameplay in Studio Town

 

 

- Still no graphical upgrade

- Energy goes down too quickly in Studio Town

- Still can get choppy and slowed-down gameplay

- Could this be the last expansion pack until Sims 2 comes out? (Naah, I somehow doubt it!)

 

 

Review: The Sims (PC)

Review: The Sims Unleashed (PC)

Review: The Sims (PS2)

 

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The Sims Superstar

Score: 8.8 / 10

 

With 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.

 

sims superstar pc review          sims superstar pc review

 

Easily 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 fun.

 

At 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 Leach.

 

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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 

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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.

 

However, 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.

 

If 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).

 

Making 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.

 

Still, 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.

 

Musically, 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.

 

sims superstar pc review          sims superstar pc review

 

There 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.

 

The 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.

 

- Lee Cieniawa

lcieniawa@armchairempire.com

(June 15, 2003)

 

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