Besides being a great way to spend some downtime, video games let us live out a fantasy as someone else. While some games let you play as a knight or gangster, Stardom: The A-List from Glu lets you become a virtual TV or movie star. Stardom is also a game about vanity and impatience– two qualities celebrities are known to possess.
The vanity comes from your list ranking. For the first several hours of this slow-moving freemium game, you’ll languish in the E-list cellar, aspiring to someday be as well-known as D-lister Kathy Griffin. Eventually you’ll work your way up to the A-list, landing big Hollywood movies and making the crowds scream, but it’s a tedious process.
This is where your patience also gets tested. To rise in the ranks of on-air talent, you’ll have to audition for dozens of sock deodorizer commercials or hacky sitcoms and crime dramas. The amount of actions you can take while filming a commercial, TV show, or movie is limited by the amount of energy you have. You get one unit of energy every five minutes, or you can replenish it with charm, a premium currency that costs real-world money.
Shooting a take, checking the sound or lighting, and even visiting the craft services tables will use energy and fill a star meter. You’ll perform several of these actions again and again, slowly building up enough stars to give you a decent performance and expand your fan base. Your total number of fans is shown as a score, similar to the way people judge their popularity on Facebook or Twitter by their number of followers.
Give me the hair of the dog that bit me.
If you run out of energy in the middle of a shoot, you’ll have to put the game down and go do something else until you’re ready to return. Each shoot also has a time limit, so you’ll have to remember to come back and finish before it expires. Any game where you have to set alarms and reminders to come back usually isn’t fun for us. Due to its constant time limits and slowly-refilling energy, Stardom keeps you out of the game as much as it keeps you involved.
That’s too bad, because the larger world of Stardom has a lot of potential. You can explore restaurants and nightclubs looking for a date, or randomly poke at trash cans and pigeons to find hidden loot. Plus, accepting an audition results in a clever memory game, where you have to memorize two lines for each shoot. They’re often clever parodies of popular TV shows like CSI.
Most players probably won’t possess the vanity required to see this sluggish celebrity RPG through to the end, and if you’re impatient, you’ll end up shelling out real-world dough for an uninspiring game. Vanity and impatience may not be virtues in the real world, but in Stardom, apparently it’s all that counts.