If you don’t like your own life, you can always lead a virtual one.
The hugely popular Sims franchise is about to take a step in a whole new direction. As the title suggests, the Sims are now called Urbz, signifying the game’s new focus on city life. Gameplay is no longer confined to a specific area such as the home or a holiday location. Instead, you follow and control your virtual person at all times - whether he is working, shopping in the local mall, or spending a night out with his friends. According to EA, the city, which consists of nine distinct districts each with their own unique culture, will be bursting with life even at night when discos, restaurants, and sushi bars open. Other locales include clothing boutiques, firework factories, beaches and barbershops. To reflect this new focus of living in a vibrant city, a whole new graphics engine has been built, which promises to give a very sleek, colorful, and bold look to the game.
As always, your Urb’s needs must be satisfied. This includes getting enough sleep and food, maintaining a respectable hygiene level, and nurturing social, physical, mental, and creative skills. However, this time around, you need to acquire reputation points as well. More reputation points equal more power and influence over other Urbz as well as access to new jobs, city districts, and lifestyles. You acquire points by building up relationships with important people, doing well at work, successfully beating up bosses that appear at various locations, or just by wearing hip clothes. Depending on the district you’re in, the residents’ concept of cool changes, though, so becoming the number one Urb in the entire city is no easy task.
All in all, the Urbz looks set to give the franchise a much-needed boost. With an ambitious setting, a broadened field of play, a new emphasis on reputation, and a unique visual style, The Urbz represents a big departure from previous incarnations of The Sims. It seems much grander in scope and offers more gameplay variety as well.
On a side note, while the PS2 version features Eye-Toy support and the Xbox version is presented with a higher resolution and HDTV support, the GameCube version includes a number of exclusive features, such as extra items.