Showtime is the sixth Sims 3 expansion pack to hit our shores, and it’s packed full of divas, knife-juggling, genies, as well as a significant expansion into the social media arena. But with a plethora of expansion packs already released for the Sims 3, is Showtime a must-have or a wait-for-the-sales title?
Like other expansion packs released to date, Showtime comes well-equipped with the new gear you’d expect: a new town, new traits, and lifetime wishes, as well as objects, hairstyles and clothing. But the big new feature in Showtime is what they’re calling SimPort, which gives players the ability to host other people and have them come perform in their Sim town.
Likewise, as a player you are able to send out a request to your friends and have your Sim go on tour in other towns. Your friends can post pictures of your Sim performing in their town, with comments, a little like a Facebook wall post. This feature will be great if you have other friends who like to play, but if, like me, you’re a lone Sim fan in a big world, SimPort will remain pretty much an untouched experience.
That said, you don’t need to employ any of the multiplayer features to enjoy most of the new content in Showtime. The new neighbourhood, Starlight Shores, showcases most of the new buildings associated with Showtime – and there are a fair few of them, with a multitude of different types of venues where Sim performers can dazzle the crowds. There’s everything from a park with a big stage in the middle of it, to karaoke bars and private clubs. (As an aside, while all of this new content is great, it is becoming increasingly difficult to continue to play in just one town – there simply isn’t enough room to accommodate all the expansion packs’ featured buildings, as well as a variety of housing.)
The new career path, performance, lets Sims develop as singers, magicians, or acrobats. Like some of the other professions in the game, these are a bit more loosely structured than the conventional ‘jobs’, like doctor, police Sim, or teacher, in that you advance through working at the job, and improving certain skills and abilities.
Career improvement is gained by busking for tips, or by performing gigs at different venues around town. In order to get a performance ‘gig’, your Sim will need to approach a venue’s proprietor, and audition. Depending on their performance (and skill level) they’ll be invited back at a set date and time, or told to go home and practice some more.
Before the gig, Sims can customise their costume, as well as the stage (although these don’t appear to have much of an impact on the overall reaction to the gig). And when they step onto the stage, the other Sims around will react positively or negatively, depending on how well the performance goes. Some Sims may heckle and boo, while others might jump around, wave their lighters (though I’ve never seen a smoking Sim) and even throw food or other objects on to the stage.
As you might expect from the theme, the new traits and lifetime wishes are all performance-related, with the new traits Diva, Social Butterfly, and Natural Born Performer, and lifetime wishes like Master Magician and Master Acrobat. The Diva trait in particular makes for some great town mayhem.
Most of the new items seem to be centred around the ‘play’ theme, with new stereos, gaming tables, a golf driving range, karaoke stereo, and even a DJ turntable. My favourite new item however is the ‘dusty old lamp’, purchasable with lifetime wish points. Rubbing it – well, I think you know how this one goes.
Although a lot of the new content is pretty fun, unlike some of the best expansions, Showtime doesn’t feel particularly integrated with the rest of the Sims world, an aspect I always look forward to when I get a new expansion. One aspect that I was surprised to see (and for the record am not happy with), was the inclusion of Sim Store items showing up in shopping mode – and a prompt to spend your real life money on extra Sim stuff. For this I dropped my ‘value’ score, and my approval of the series has dropped a bit as a result too.