Long before the dust settled on the first copy of The Sims
Maxis has been tossing out expansions to the game with the unerring frequency
of offers to enter the Clearinghouse Sweepstakes. While some of these expansions
(i.e. Hot Date
) have scored bullseyes, others
have flown less true, been less fun, and may even make a person yearn for a visit
from Ed McMahon to liven things up.
Sims: Superstar, the sixth expansion, definitely leans toward the
latter variety. Although this expansion strives to add an element of glamour
to the neighborhood by allowing your more "creative" Sims to pursue careers
in the entertainment industry, it comes off as more of an exercise in frivolity.
It also begs the question, "Is this what the game really needed?" Going
out for celebrity status is simply one of 15 or more career paths and none of
the others are supported in any kind of depth whatsoever. However, if your neighborhoods
are filled with ambitious, attention-hungry glory hounds in desperate need of
head-gassing and ego-bashing, Superstar should preoccupy you for a couple
As with all the other expansions, players can expect the obligatory array
of new walls, floors, furnishings and building materials, enough to satisfy
the Builder Bob in anyone. There are also a host of new luxury items; everything
from mud baths and wind chambers to massage tables and scuba tanks are at your
disposal. Of course, these items are priced out of the range of your average,
everyday Sim, but since this expansion is geared towards the elite, sod the
Superstar also includes "Studio Town," a new location for your Sims'
universe. In Studio Town Sims can try to get discovered at karaoke bars, act
on sets, record at studios, perform in front of audiences, schmooze at oxygen
bars or just break down and pig out on smoothies. Like all locations in The
Sims, the lots here can be expanded, obliterated, or created from scratch
at the whim of the player.
The real innovation in Superstar is the concept of celebrity. Sims
now vie for superstardom in acting, music and fashion in ways that involve the
player to a greater degree than merely commanding your Sim to talk to a mirror
to gain Charisma, for example, or just get to the carpool vehicle on a regular
basis. Players help their Sims by obtaining an agent, perusing the daily tabloids
and urging Sims to perform at the right venues, in front of the right crowds,
and directing them to suck up to the right people - just like in real life.
of these activities are not quite as involving as they may at first seem. Securing
an agent, studying the tabloids and even performing before a small crowd won't
give anyone much of a charge. As your Sim gains in fame, however, and obsessed
fans began stalking them - well, that adds a bit to the interest.
Your Sims' popularity, of course, is essential in the fame game. Sims who
can maintain a hectic social life while still managing to shower and go to the
bathroom on a somewhat frequent basis will find the most success. This is still
The Sims, after all, and meter management takes supreme importance.
If your Sim hits the big time and can afford to shell out $500 per day, a
Butler is just what the doctor ordered. The addition of the Butler is definitely
a highlight of this expansion, much more useful than the maid who comes and
does her thing half-heartedly for a couple of hours a day or the glitchy robot
that spends more time in doorways changing hats than actually cleaning anything.
Butlers can actually prepare satisfying meals for your Sims, tidy up, and phone
in for more staff when the need arises. But then again, only the wealthiest
Sims will be able to sample this guy's wares.
Superstar is very much a trot along the treadmill, with no improvements
in control, graphics or sound. One of its most glaring faults is that it doesn't
fully incorporate previous expansions. Here I refer specifically to the fact
that "Superstar" was already a career objective introduced in Livin'
Large. And do not think that simply because you have a Sim who had previously
advanced to the rank of "Superstar" that same Sim will be anything but a "Nobody"
in the Superstar expansion. While Superstar has its own method
for advancing the aspiring star (including a new system of 'star points' which
Sims earn by basically making asses out of themselves in public), some acknowledgment
of the superstars of Livin' Large would have been a good thing. And it
ain't in here.
The Sims: Superstar is yet another thumbsucker meant to whet the appetites
of Sims aficionados until Maxis obliterates this shallow but entertaining universe
with The Sims 2.
Sure, it's got plenty of new items and toys, but unless the majority of your
Sims have an interest in a show biz career, this star-studded expansion is somewhat
hollow and does little to bring the rosiness back into this old game's cheeks.