e started off small, singing for money in Hollywood’s nickel-&-dime karaoke bars; success seemed a long, long way off.
That was the beginning, but with an optimistic spirit, a little luck and far less talent, it didn’t take too long: Freddie Loved By Housewives found an agent and played to ever-increasing crowds – he knew his star would shine, one day. Then he started getting paid. Not a lot – certainly not enough – but it was good to see the $10s and $30s going into the family account. Slight fame and new friendships had their price, however, and relations with his partner grew increasingly strained, but were quickly repaired when he came home with a satellite dish and massage chair.
Be warned, though – Sims in search of fame will see some of their valuable relationships flounder; but there’s an exchange – that so-far difficult Sim neighbour may yet fall for your charms as your star power climbs. Fame has its price – and fleeting though they be, also its rewards. Grab what you can, when you can, some say. May your star shine high.
Play that funky music
The penultimate expansion pack for The Sims from Aspyr deeply impressed us: “It’s the best one yet,” commented one reviewer. You see, what’s offered in here isn’t just an enhancement to existing gameplay, but the introduction of a whole set of new gaming choices for hardened Simmers.
So, what’s the game about? The Sims – Superstar offers players a chance to take their Sims into show business. It introduces new career paths – music, fashion and movies – but you’ll need to accumulate star points to unlock the latter two. One crucial thing, unlike existing Sims careers, in which all you see is the Sim going to work lively and getting home tired (how like life), players get to guide their characters through the twists and turns of show-business, gently micro-managing that career as they play. Players will see new interactions (schmooze, sign autographs), and get 175 new objects to place in their homes.
Superstar introduces a new area, called Studio Town. This is where the action happens, and offers a hornet’s nest of cheap karaoke bars, open-mic clubs, recording studios, movie houses and spas. Some of these areas are locked to Sims early in their careers; exclusivity prevails among the famous.
Getting-started Sims sign-on with an agent. They’ll then receive a celebrity magazine with their daily paper. This lets you check the top ten famous superstars on a daily basis. Sims with agents get driven to Studio Town in a limo. Sims without have to pay $50 for the drive – but it’s worth taking a look inside Studio Town before hiring an agent. (By the way, if Superstar is the only expansion pack you own, you will still get up to five extra standard neighbourhoods to populate. You also get lots of new objects, including a diving simulator, massage chairs and more).
A celebrity career takes a lot of work. Wannabe Sims begin plying their trade in the karaoke bars and open-mic sessions of Studio Town. Taking the stage costs $10, but Sims get paid according to the number of applauding people in the audience.
As reputation grows, Sims acquire star points, which are also won by getting to know celebrities who wander around. These include Marilyn Monroe, Christine Aguilera and Avril Lavigne.
Celebrities are chased by paparrazi photographers, but they’re easy to spot because of the large gold star that floats above them. Players attempts to befriend celebs are hampered by their fickle nature; one minute they appear to be best buddies, the next they just don’t want to know you.
As Freddie’s reputation spread, he was able to expand into recording radio jingles. Though he got paid for this, the experience was somewhat dampened by the curmudgeonly nature of the engineer: “It’s not your day, come back tomorrow”, became a frustrating litany to our young protégé. Every attempt helps – a proto-celebrity should seize every chance to create fame. Once a Sim achieves three stars, it can begin to record tracks in the recording studio.
Fame conflicts with cosy domesticity – even-less-famous Sims will eventually attract the attentions of the Obsessed Fan. This annoying character haunts the house at night, tries to steal objects and rifles through the bins. And beware being intimate too near a window – one snap from the fan, or a sneak paparrazi can make – or break – a career. Sims with Livin’ Large should consider adopting a dog, which will chase the obsessive away. Sims achieving stratospheric fame will be able to ask their butler to send that character – or anybody else – home.
Looking back, you’ll see we have enjoyed every expansion pack Aspyr has shipped so far. Each has its unique charms – though processor speed and memory requirements rise with each one installed, so be prepared to invest in a little more memory to prevent crashes. We really like this release, as it opens up a new area of gameplay by making players responsible for a Sims career – and the reactions from other in-game characters are highly amusing and unique. Existing Sims fans with a hunger for stardom need this upgrade.