REVIEW: The Sims 3: Showtime [PC]

What frustrates me is the fact that my career thief cannot spend her free hours standing in a park, juggling. If she wanted to throw down a hat and play guitar, she’d be more than able to earn a few bucks – but, as a budding acrobat, she’s outtaluck. Such is life in Starlight Shore, home of the latest expansion for The Sims 3 – the Katy Perry-approved Showtime.

[img_big]center,8699,2011-12-06/ts3_showtime_ann_acrobat_ball_01.jpg,The Sims 3: Showtime[/img_big]

So. My girl, Kirstin. She’s a pretty-decent thief, lives in her 1br, 1ba house with her adopted mutt of a dog, QT. And this is where the problem is – she’d really rather spend time with him than exploring the new content provided in the game.

Someone who did check out more of the new features on offer in Starlight Shore is Andre, my professional acrobat (noticing a theme?). He’s been lifting weights, busking his little heart out and laying it all on the line, auditioning in front of venue owners, hoping to get his big break. He currently has two weekly residencies, but the reviews aren’t good and if things don’t pick up, he’ll be out on the floor.

Fortunately for Andre, though – he can work on the sideline. A day for him isn’t complete without spending a few hours in front of a glowing screen, typing out the latest chapter of his manuscript – a drama novel that’s been commissioned by a fellow Sim resident. The payment for these chapters add up into a tidy little additional income stream, something that really helps while he’s still falling flat on his face on stage.

But this is the thing – Showtime brings with it a handful of new professions – singer, acrobat, magician – but they come at the expense of the standard careers on offer. You can either have one or the other, and that’s more than a little annoying for those (players or characters) who like to multitask.

[img_big]center,8699,2012-03-06/ts3_showtime_launch_acrobat_02.jpg,The Sims 3: Showtime[/img_big]

It’s not all bad. Showtime does address multitaskers in different ways – most notably through the impressively hefty social networking elements introduced through SimPort. Updates – memories, achievements, friend requests and other messages – pop up in the top right of your screen. Depending on how many you’re following, this can present itself as a new distraction, but – as with many things – it’s just a hint of where the game is heading.

SimPort also lets you package your character up and send them off to another Sim’s city (heh!) to play a gig or two, and come home with some memories and a handful of shared experiences. You might get a photographic reminder, but – just like a Sim’s hours at work are hidden away behind closed doors – you don’t get to really see what’s going on outside your neighbourhood.

While it’s not perfect, it’s a pretty impressive thing to slap onto a game as an afterthought add-on project (rather like the previous Pets expansion). This somewhat basic implementation could herald the start of something bigger – a fully-blown feature showcased as part of the inevitable Sims 4, which could potentially handle the technical difficulties of a somewhat persistent, multiplayer world (we’re already hearing inklings of this feature being included in Sim City, so it’s not just a dream!).

Showtime is a lovely addition to The Sims 3 – and definitely one worth picking up if you’re a fan of the franchise. To me, it didn’t bring as much excitement to the table as Sims tapestry.

A lot of it feels a little like it’s a prelude to something bigger… but if Showtime is the support act, what will be the main event?

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