IGN Previews Superstar

Thursday, May 1, 2003 - 23:00

The money, the fame and the public acclaim.

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Sims Superstar

The money, the fame and the public acclaim.

So you want to be a rock and roll star? Then listen now to what I say. Just get yourself this new expansion then take some time to learn how to play. Butchering of The Byrds aside, that's the premise of the latest expansion pack for The Sims, Superstar. We recently had the chance to visit Maxis at their studios and check in with this umpteenth expansion to the popular series.

For a long time, Simmers have been asking for a way to follow their Sims to work. The developers admit that it's been a desire of theirs as well. Simply having your Sim disappear to their occupational limbo for a few hours a day has been a necessary evil in the series since it first started all those years ago. The problems in creating new environments and challenges for each career track have grown as each new expansion adds new careers.

While it's not feasible to create new spaces and gameplay for each career, the folks at Maxis have finally found a way to incorporate some new job-related gameplay with the three new careers that are being added this time around. Now you'll be able to live the high life in the fields of music, fashion and acting. To add a lot more excitement to these already exciting professions, Maxis has included a new Studio Town with various venues where you can practice and profit from your new skills.

Every morning along with the newspaper, you'll get a new tabloid that shows who's hot and who's not. You can use the tabloid to keep track of the top ten stars in the Sims world and track your own progress up the ladder of fame. The tabloid will also report on the various goings on of Studio Town.

As a regular non-famous Sim you can visit Studio Town via a convenient tram that runs between the residential neighborhoods and the new studio lots. Famous Sims will instead be picked up by fancy-schmancy limousines. On the surface it works a bit like the extra areas in Hot Date. A new population of Studio people is spawned with your install so no two versions of the game will offer exactly the same characters.

Apart from the new dining and shopping areas (sushi restaurants, fashion boutiques, and such) there are objects like karaoke machines and open mics for you to get a taste of what talent must be like. Using the karaoke machine, for instance, you can please the crowds with the (hopefully) melodious sound of your voice. Should you fail to please the crowd, the game will give you a hint as to what skills you should improve. Fail at the karaoke machine, for instance, and the game will tell you that you need more inspiration (pointing you towards improving your creativity skill).

In order to take full advantage of all that Studio Town has to offer, you'll need to get an agent. This process is handled much like any other job. Simply contact an agent through the tabloids and you'll begin your life of fame and fortune. As I said, there are three career tracks in Sims Superstar: modeling, singing and acting. These three careers allow you to visit specific performance places where you'll earn fame and money in some intriguing and engaging mini-games.

Although the fundamentals of each of these games are different on the surface, the basic approach is the same. Let's say you want to record a music video, for instance. You'll first need to find a studio that offers that service. Then you'll need to pick a style of music -- pop, rock, dance, and so forth.

From here you're prompted to choose a three-item sequence from a list of three inspiration words. In one example, you'll have to pick from steel, heartbeat, flame. Other tries may yield different choices -- rain, thunder, and dew, for instance. You can pick flame, flame, flame; or flame, heartbeat, steel; or heartbeat, heartbeat, flame. In all there are 27 variations to be found with this system and you'll have to hit on the one that the producer is looking for.

While your Sim is performing, you'll need to watch the reaction of the producer (or director or photographer). When you do well, you'll see a happy little picture of your Sim's face above his head. When you do poorly, you'll see an X-ed out version of your Sim. You'll get three reactions, one for each part of your song. On the harder objects, you'll get a second chance to rearrange your inspirations to hit those that you've missed. On the easier objects, you'll even get a third try virtually ensuring victory for all but the least attentive Sims. Do well and you'll gain fame and money; do poorly and you might even lose some of the fame you've already earned.

As with the rest of the careers, progressing through the star tracks gets progressively harder. You'll have to make sure you surround yourself with friends who are close to your own fame level in order to advance your career. Like they say, it's all who you know. Unlike the friendship requirements for previous jobs, the famous friends must be your friends, not simply friends with someone in your family. You can spot the really famous Sims by the stars that rotate over their heads.

You'll get the full range of socials with a Sim of corresponding fame. Otherwise, you'll just have to content yourself with asking for their autograph or simply telling them that you're their biggest fan. The disparity between stars and unfamous Sims ensure that you'll grovel when and if they do manage to come by your house. All the members of the family had better be in to whatever the star wants to do.

Once you become famous you'll need to take care of your fans. There's a pool of these vicarious thrill seekers in Studio Town and you'll need to endear yourself to them or suffer their displeasure. Leave them neglected for too long and you might even develop a stalker who will come to your house and paw through your garbage. Make your fans happy enough and you might even win the coveted Sims' Choice Award.

It wouldn't be a Sims expansion without a lot of new objects for the home as well. Superstar will include plenty of new toys for the home. A new satellite dish offers more TV channel options now and even includes some new commercials. A SCUBA pool and skydiving simulator let you hone your body. Watching players try out the skydiving simulator for the first time is a blast. Characters with low body scores will bump around and eventually take a header in to the walls of the simulator. Once you get good at it you can perform all manner of pirouettes and somersaults in the air. Mini spas offer the chance to unwind from all this exertion with steam, mud and sulfur baths. But even if you eschew all of these new toys, you'll absolutely have to bolster your celebrity image by installing a brand new golden toilet in your bathroom.

The expansion will naturally also include lots of new textures for floors and walls and roofs. There are even plenty of new skins for your Sims.

The game is slated for release later next month. Look for our full review then. In the meantime, we've got loads of new media in our media section including a few movies of each career in action and a sampling of some of the songs you'll hear sung in Simlish.


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