Reviewed by Downtown Jimmy
Introduction:Electronics Arts best selling PC franchise the Sims has been transformed, marketed and aimed directly at a younger style conscious market. The Urbz: Sims in the City Is made exclusively for the console, but how well does it stack up to its more conventional counterpart?
The Game:Everyone who knows a bit about gaming is familiar with The Sims. The Sims could be called the Pac-Man of the 90s considering how the stagering amount of people who have been exposed to this popular simulation game. The Urbz: Sims in the City is another take on the hit franchise with a teenage twist.
Unlike The Sims, The Urbz doesn't take place in a comfortable house with all the modern convinces of today. It places the player in the city living in a dingy apartment with little cash and possessions (Sounds more like real life to me). The first step in the game is setting up your Urb just like you would normally do in the Sims, customizing their look, but don't expect it to stay that way. Most of the game is spend concentrating on how you look and are viewed by other people, so you will be changing up constantly. It's what you always wanted... to be discriminated because of how you dress, remember how fun that is?
The main reason you'll be switching up your look so often to look the part when completing challenges in each stereotyped gangs area. The basis of the game is to complete a bunch of similar mini objectives thrown into a different status culture. You usually have to gain popularity, get a job and succeed, defeat a villain and get access into the socially cool hangout. Did I mention the world shallow? The levels are very standard and simple, although it not a horrible idea, its also not groundbreaking gaming science.
The other aspects of The Sims gameplay is also present in the Urbz which means regularly eating, getting sleep, showering, visiting rest room a hundred times and staying entertained. You have to keep this up while you're completing the other objectives. It sounds like allot, but since there is no time frame you don't have to worry. You also get to purchase new items for your crib, and new clothes in each part of the town each with their distinct style. So if you really dig the grease monkey biker car seat furniture, go for it and do up your pad the biker way. There is a fair amount of customization in that area and some neat designs.
There are some other downfalls to The Urbz besides the simplistic objectives and shallow gameplay. First off I have to mention the long load times in the Urbz. When you chance levels/areas you'll have to wait a bit. It's not too big of a problem, but if you're running back and forth to your apartment allots you might be a little annoyed. Also the Urbz feels like it should be played on the PC and although it translates ok to the controller it can feel a little sluggish at times.
Graphics & Sound:The Urbz has its own unique graphical style which is its strongpoint; just by taking a peek at the screen shots you can get a sense of it. The graphics from a technical standpoint are below par, even with the over the top design the actual models of the characters are bland. The environments are extremely small and look like they where thrown together quickly. In the scheme of the game they work, but the Urbz! Could have been much more with larger city type areas to explore. The Urbz graphically could be described as a fashion designer train wreck on an unimpressive runway.
Do you know the Black Eye Peas? Do you like them? That's two questions you should ask yourself before you pick up the Urbz! If you are a BEP fan then you'll love the Urbz! because not only supply the soundtrack, they are in the game. If you can handle the funk hip hop vibe of the Peas don't bother with the game. Besides the music the Urbz have the Sims dialect of sim-jibbers and the same mediocre sound effects. Lucky for me I'm into the Black Eye Peas.
Innovation:The biggest innovation in the Urbz: Sims in the City would have to be its unique look with the sim style gameplay. Even if you're not a fan of the art direction you can tell its something different. No one does the Sims gameplay like Electronic Arts, the originals. The console doesn't see that many sim like games so this rules the crop, until the Hef comes to town with his bunnies.
Mojo:The Urbz is a clash of good and bad mojo. The Urbz has tones of personality and original style which is commended, but the negative vibe of all this style and social status voodoo. The Urbz might be teaching improper stereotypes about certain groups in society. It's a fact of life that depending on how you dress people will judge you, but should we really be reinforcing these ideas to today's youth.
Lowdown:The Urbz: Sims in the City is best suited for the casual gamer who likes to the core gameplay of the Sims. The Urbz has puts a heavy emphasis on dress up which reinforces its shallow values. The Urbz isn't a bad experience and it's fun on certain levels, but it is severely repeative. but so was the Sims. I would have to strongly suggest renting this game before buying, and see if you have what it takes to live like an Urb.
Gameplay: 5, Graphics/Sound: 6, Innovation: 5, Mojo: 6 . Final: 5.5
- Reputation (rep): Build your reputation within the world, outside your hood, and through characters you'll hang with. Your goal is to be the biggest player in the city with ultimate access to the hottest places and people.
- Urban Style: An all-new character engine turns your Urbz into hip city dwellers. Take your Urbz out on the town to swanky new hot spots like the Sushi Bar, VIP Club, or even out to get a tattoo at the Tattoo Parlor.
- New Gameplay Experience: You now control your Urbz 24/7 in the city that never sleeps. You directly control your Urbz on the job as a bartender or stripping down motorcycles, etc., to earn Simoleans and gain access to new social interactions. Motive gameplay is more elegant than ever so that you fulfill your motives quicker and even have limited motives to manage in specific situations. You can bounce into a hip boutique and change your look in-game from rasta to rap, affecting how the world perceives you!
- Lifestyles & Districts: Choose to live in one of nine districts (neighborhoods), each with its own unique inhabitants and their lifestyles. Depending on which district, you pick your gameplay experience and the way you earn your reputation will be different.
- Next Generation Graphics, UI, and Audio: Featuring all-new graphics, real time lighting and weather effects, the city comes alive. New audio and music reflects the sounds of the city and the beat of urban lifestyles. The brand new in-game UI modeled after the latest PDAs is
- named the XAM (pronounced "zam").The XAM lets you Xchange money & items, Access special areas in the city, and message your friends to stay connected 24/7; are you XAMmin' yet?
- EyeToyT Support for the PlayStation 2 console:
- Get your face in the game! Once you earn a reputation worthy of bill boards, you'll see your face (or your Urbz face without EyeToy) appear on signs, billboards, and bus ads all around the city.