It seems Sims expansions come a dime a dozen, well fans the series wish that was true at least. Ever since the release of the blockbuster title, The Sims, EA and Maxis have released an expansion pack every few months, this is without a doubt the most built-upon and expanded title ever released, not to mention sold the most copies. So, now the profound question, what is new in The Sims: Superstar expansion? Unlike many of the other additions, this one adds a lot of depth and new features to the game itself, rather than simply a number of new items to build and interact with. If you were to purchase only one of the expansions, this is likely one of the better selections.
The first thing you'll likely notice with Superstar isn't an overly pleasant introduction, no matter what your system specifications are, expect long loading times. Initially loading the game can take upwards of two minutes on occasion, enough time to make a trip to the bathroom or grab a quick snack. Moving between the home and other locations carry a similar load time, albeit not quite as lengthy. As with the load times, many of the other problems of the original title still remain. One would think after six expansions these issues could have been addressed; yet it is unlikely it will ever happen. Sluggish graphics at times even on the most powerful of systems and unsmooth "blocky" scrolling are just a few of these issues. It is obvious Superstar wasn't intended to fix problems however, simply to do what the other expansions had in mind, just on a larger scale.
Superstar adds a new location at which players can visit, Studio Town, although it is the first that really enhances the overall gameplay experience. Instead of providing different locations and following your Sims to work based on their career track, Superstar allows players to visit Studio Town and make your Sims famous. Instead of selecting a standard career and rising up the ladder to success, Sims in the entertainment industry have a star rating, how well you are known and respected in the eyes of the public. This star level can be raised by memorable performances, interacting with Hollywood superstars, and making friends with some of the best in the business. As your star rating increases, so do the opportunities in Studio Town, from performing in commercials to eventually feature films, or from karaoke to music superstardom. Although all is not simple in the world of the Sims, as without frequent trips to studio town you'll likely slip down the charts and even get fired from your agency. Players had better be ready to spend plenty of time developing skills, as charisma and creativity are critical to entertaining performances, and bodybuilding can't hurt too much.
Item wise, Superstar adds upwards of 150 new additions to the game, most of which are for luxury studio executives and personal entertainment. Sims should be expecting a hefty price tag to purchase these items. New lighting effects such as studio spotlights, and other items like director's chairs and Hollywood barricades to keep out the paparazzos are included. The biggest downfall to this addition is most of the objects are very impractical unless your Sims is taking part in the studio aspect of the title, and even then most of the items are so expensive that you'll likely never be able to afford them. Besides this, the developers have shown us once again that they have quite an imagination with the variety of items available for the title.
So, you've made it big and are known throughout the world. It doesn't end here though, as Sims' have to deal with Paparazzo's and obsessive fans stealing personal items or awards. Stalkers are a major nuisance for big stars, fortunately enough Superstar adds a butler to the list of services available to take care of these obsessive fans. A butler can chase away-unwanted people, prepare meals, and take care of the house, although they cost a pretty penny to employ. As your fame grows, you'll meet new celebrities and hopefully become good friends, as this will increase your star rating. Avril Lavigne, Christina Aguilera, and Marilyn Monroe were three celebrities I came across quite quickly in Studio Town, although Superstar contains quite a few more that you'll eventually meet as you move up the rankings.
Graphically, the title hasn't changed much; new objects and characters are a nice addition, yet add little to the title aesthetically. Although the graphics engine has tested the toll of time better than most titles, it is still becoming inherently dated compared to more recent titles. Although the developers have implemented a variety of new actions and movements, the game still looks sub-par compared to most new titles. As with the graphics, the sound engine in Superstar is not a major overhaul from the original, several new sound effects have been implemented in conjunction with the actions, but not much besides that. Although little has been added to the sound aspect, it is still well presented even by today's standards, a solid blend of relaxing background music and entertaining sound effects.
Maxis continues to fulfill their commitment to support the original Sims with this and at least one more expansion currently in development. Also, Maxis is currently developing a sequel to the blockbuster title, expect the trend of big sales and multiple expansions to repeat all over again with its release. In the meantime, Superstar is definitely one of the better additions to the series, broadening the overall scope of the gameplay something not really present in any of the other expansions. Albeit the title still suffers from many of the problems of the original game, it is evident that the intention was never to fix these issues. Nonetheless, if you are looking to pickup one or more of the Sims expansion packs, Superstar is a well-rounded selection. As a wise man once said, "rinse, lather and repeat. Always repeat." That seems to be the strategy Maxis has taken and it is surely working out for them.