I'll be honest here--I never really "got" The Sims. Even as I try to convince myself that the game is really just an RPG, with players advancing their stats and constantly bettering their characters in both abilities and equipment, I still have some sort of mental hurdle I cannot seem to leap. I know many people find these games very enjoyable, and I appreciate the charm and wit that is poured into each title--and still I find myself greeting a new Sims title with lukewarm enthusiasm at best. So with that grain of salt in mind, I still found The Sims 3: Showtime to be a solid entry into the series, bringing even more of the goodies and experiences that Sims fans crave.
As the name would suggest, the Showtime expansion focuses on giving the Sims a time to shine as stars on stage. Players now can focus their creative juices to build master magicians, acrobats, singers, and other entertainers. Borrowing from an earlier expansion, Showtime expands the "gig" idea, allowing for less 9-5 type career paths.
My primary Sim in this latest adventure was a budding magician, and after the requisite character roll and purchasing a prefurnished house ( I really don't like building or interior home design), I sent her out on her path toward greatness. I settled in the new town of Starlight Shores, a Hollywood-esque center rife with plenty of venues for Sims to perform. These venues house customizable stages, allowing those well-established performers to plan out and decorate exactly how they want to look in front of an audience. Of course, newbie performers have to just contend with a few lights and plain-looking boards.
Much of the charm comes in watching these fledgling Sims try to get their foot in the door. At first, I spent much of my time wandering around parks, pulling coins from ears and doing two-bit card tricks. Or, I tried to do that--I had my share of spectacular failures and embarrassments. At least I wasn't the only one--at several of the "SimFests", times when Sims can get together and watch other performers, I watched some truly awful acts from other Sims. Singers sounding like screeching cats (speaking all in Sim, of course), clumsy jugglers, and even more-pathetic magicians all took the stage at one point or another.
Still, with a little perseverance, I managed to grab myself a gig or two and begin actually making money at my career. As time progressed, I got better, pulled in a little more cash, and began that climb up the ladder that all Sims games seem to have, progressing toward my Lifetime Goal of Master Magician. This climb was still festooned with the usual Sims necessities of balancing eating, showering, and relaxing, as well as chatting up fellow Sims and even starting relationships. In all honesty, I could do without all this extra Sims fluff, but I know this is really the heart of the franchise.
Showtime also adds a bunch of new goodies for the Sims to enjoy, as well as some other fun stops to make in town. Adding a hint of multiplayer (such as it is), Showtime allows folks to post their Sims adventures to the various real-life social media sites. In addition, players can now "SimPort" their characters to other player's worlds, provided that other player is receptive for visitors. The Sim will leave for 12 Sim-hours, returning with a bit of cash and experience. While a neat idea, I'm not sure how much people will actually take advantage of this feature, as I certainly didn't feel any compulsion or desire to do so.
Showtime really doesn't change much of the feel or look of The Sims 3, other than a few goodies here and there. The same interminable load times still exist, along with the same control scheme and graphics. I was amused by the new music from the singing Sims, at least for a while, but I'm guessing that would have gotten old quickly if I had focused on a musical career.
Overall, The Sims 3: Showtime simply brings a few more things to the Sims 3 party. For fans of the series, some new career paths and a new, well-venued town could be appealing. For those of us who still can't manage to see what all the fuss is about, however, Showtime won't change anything. It's a charming, even funny at times, but for all that I just never felt any more drawn in than I have with previous Sims 3 excursions. So mileage may definitely vary, but die-hard Sims players will undoubtedly find something here to enjoy.