PC Review

The Sims Superstar

Sam returns to his arch-nemesis The Sims in search of stardom.

Aha, another installment in the computer-game equivalent of Police Academy. Now I am duty bound to write more than fifty words on this new expansion pack for the bafflingly popular Sims but you are in no way required to read the whole review, so you can skip on down to the last paragraph if you so choose.

Okay, for those of you still here I am going to be brief and shall try to make this as enjoyable as possible. I'm in Florida at the moment and so obviously have better things to do than write about EA's latest ruse to separate people from their money, and I'm sure y'all can think of something else you'd rather spend the 2-6 minutes it would take to read a normal sized review, (think away, I can't be arsed for there's a steak on the barbie).

Sims Superstar is what, the fifth, sixth udder to be attached to the cash-cow that is the Sims. In this stellar new adventure you can take your Sims to new heights, scaling the slippery cliff of celebrity till your eyes bleed or sanity makes a return. There are three new career paths to choose from; you can propel your Sim into the worlds of either the movie star, pop-artist or fashion. Wow, get to turn a bunch of pixels into a better looking bunch of pixels. Anyway, there is a new experience bar to fill up, the 'fame' bar, represented by a rising grade of half-stars, up to the full five-star treatment. Which leads me to a digression, where's the bands? I want to be Five-Star, not One-Star; get the mansions, the cars, the bad accountants and then degenerate into a pathetically sad has-been, eyes rolling in the head like the empty champagne bottles used to do beside the Jacuzzi, back when we 'wiz famous. Unfortunately, like all of the Sims games, this is living of the most sterile kind, so there's no dealer option on the telephone and your model alter-ego doesn't vomit all over the place. If you could snort virtual Charlie and shag virtual groupies then I might give this a chance. But seeing as none of the things that real celebrities do, hell, the very things that people want to become celebrities for, are available to the player, my interest is, understandably, low.

Instead the player is wooed with the prospect of actually being able to follow their Sims to work for the first time - there's more than twelve new social interactions, three new locations corresponding to each career path and oodles of new doo-daas to plaster all over your fake home and office. You can drive around in limos! Hire butlers! Win Awards! Yes this is a big expansion, I'll give it that. The thing even comes on two discs, has an annoying install glitch on XP and even gives you the joyous option of installing AOL 8 on your computer. One full package I tell you, probably the best value expansion to the Sims so far. Probably not the last though, unless there's only three months until Sims the second is released.

The actual core gameplay has remained the same as it was on the day the first Sim pissed themselves then passed out from sleep deprivation, waking only to cry themselves silly because they hadn't seen any of their mates that afternoon. The Sims has always been about micro-management and for some reason this has appealed to an unprecedented number of people. Maybe it has something to do with peoples urge to have some control over their lives, something that seems increasingly hard to do in this modern world. Or maybe the world is made up of far more anal-retentives than one could ever have feared possible. Well both types should be catered for here as the level of fiddling required to get your Sim to even the lowest rungs of the fame ladder is frankly scary. Not only do you have to keep the little blighters eight basic needs ticking over nicely but you also have to worry about your fame level. To make it into the big league your Sim will have to get the attention of the press, make contacts and friendships with the movers and shakers of the fame treadmill and generally keep up a level of exposure that will ensure that the number of stars representing your fame level keeps on rising. A nightmare of management juggling - think of one of those fat-cats who seem to be a non-executive director of half the private companies in the land. Then combine them with some lanky hippy keeping five flaming torches up in the air at once. This is the kind of work you will have to endure if you really want to see your Sims name up in lights. Just remember that you will receive neither the bloated salary nor the admiration of all passers-by like my two analogous examples. This is by far the hardest of all the myriad of Sims expansions, a challenge to be sure, but is it any fun?

For me, it was fun for about a day, then it became tedious, then downright annoying, and then uninstalled. But I am not the largest fan of the Sims in the first place. It has always been a game I can take in small doses for a few days before I remember once again that this is the most pointless of all the software entertainment out there. Which is saying a lot next to Yoda's Desktop Adventures. If you are a massive fan of the Sims you will no doubt have bought this already. If on the other hand you have played some Sims before and got some passing enjoyment from the whole process without actually giving too much of a crap about what happened to your little computer people then this is probably an expansion pack too far. It really is very hard, making it difficult for the non-obsessive player to get access to much of the new content. So while Sims Superstar is a competently put together game with plenty of new objects and career paths to pursue, its reliance on extreme difficulty shows how far beyond the bounds of good game making the series has been pushed.

Sims lover:

Everyone else: N/A

E3 Trailer