The Sims is the biggest gaming franchise around these days. EA struck pure gold when it teamed up with Will Wright to create a people simulator allowing gamers to live out virtual lives in a non-mmorpg format. Earlier this year The Sims 2 was released and started the cycle all over again but it may have looked like at least for this year, console fans were going to miss out. This was not to be so, and EA created a spin off called the Urbz, hip sims where the aim is not to become the best at your job, but the player with the most reputation in a virtual city, and you know what, its actually turned out to be quite a good game.
The storyline basically revolves around you becoming a respected urb in each area of the city. You do this with the help of a friend who is already the most hip player in the city and he helps you setup in your first apartment. From there you travel from district to district trying to wow the characters and become the coolest around so you get invited to the next district where the process starts again. It may sound a bit of wash, rinse and repeat gameplay but it actually does not turn out to be that way due to the huge variety of districts on offer. Where you start determines the path you take through the game, but ultimately you reach the same goal.
There is much that has been borrowed from The Sims for this game. You still have to perform tasks such as going to the toilet, eating, cleaning yourself etc but many of those have a much more important task then they did in the Urbz, especially in some of the jobs you will have during the game. However these jobs are actually interactive and therefore are not as mundane nor do they take up the whole day making time management difficult. The jobs are actually interesting and in fact to increase your reputation you have to perform your job well, do this and you will get one of two promotions. Some promotions rely on other skills such as mental ability which you build with various contraptions available in the game.
You can gain credibility via numerous ways, but other ways can also affect your credibility. Each district has its own unique style. Two examples are Cozmo street which is a nightclub district and Diamond Heights where the rich and famous live out their days. Each district in the game requires many changes and therefore money gained from jobs. For instance if you're not wearing the latest clothes you won't be respected at all and to get into the VIP nightclubs in each district, which becomes the main goal, is not easy. The jobs on offer range from mixing drinks as a bartender through to modeling and fireworks technician. Each job has different requirements. For instance, the modeling job requires you to keep your hygiene and happy factor at a high level otherwise you produce worthless photos.
If you need a quick boost to your reputation you can use something called a Power Social. A power social is a special move, of which you have a limited number, which in the right situation gives you a massive increase in reputation. Other than that wearing the right clothes and talking to people will get your reputation increased. Characters in one district may tell you how to greet others in another district to gain high reputation right off the bat which helps a great deal. Other than this the gameplay really mimics The Sims with the aforementioned requirements such as going to the toilet and working.
As has become one of the most popular aspects of The Sims, and now The Urbz, you can decorate your place with various items, and in fact have to do so to perform tasks such as sleep and have a shower. In reality however, you won't spend much time at your place during the game because if you look, you can nearly always find a place to sleep in each district and building a shower in there is not restricted. This somewhat removes that facet of the game but because the focus is on doing things rather than building houses, in our opinion its a better game for those wanting to just play something with a goal.
There is eight districts in the game and as mentioned before they are quite different in both construction and design. As you become more and more famous in the city, your image will begin to appear on the posters around the city to signify your increased reputation. The districts include the high rise, high price Diamond Heights, a virtual beach on the roof of a building with dance music and partying, a night club area and a few others.. The districts are rather large and there is quite a bit to do in each area with various mini games available to play.
The graphics of the game are quite impressive and really capture the essence of each district quite well. At the virtual rooftop beach you will find characters sunbathing and dancing, while in the high rise, rich area you will find people mingling in designer clothing and jobs which are more enjoyable such as catwalk modeling. You can, like the Sims games, customize your Urb to a large degree and you will do this in an ongoing fashion due to the different districts meaning that this feature is utilized much more then perhaps in the other games. The music featured is remixed versions of Black Eyed Peas songs and the members of the band actually appear in the game as characters to talk to and impress.
The Urbz is possibly the best choice for those wanting a Sims game without having to do the house decorations and design, and for those who just want to be able to keep playing and playing without worrying to much about time management and having to deal with mundane tasks in an on going fashion.