Preview: The Urbz: Sims in the City (PS2, XB, GC)

The Sims have tired of their sad, suburban, Simoleon-driven lives. They have decided to pack up, move to the Big City, and reinvent themselves as ‘The Urbz.’ (the ‘z’ makes it more XTREME)

In general, the Urbz seem to be the same Sims that you know and love (or possibly hate), except that in this game, you directly control your Urb. Bliss, pure unadulterated bliss. No more telling your Urb where to go and waiting for it to eventually wander over in that direction.

NOTE: I have to stop calling it ‘your Urb’ now. Seriously, it sounds like I’m talking about those personal warts that you don’t want to tell your mom about. From now on, I’ll talk about them in the second person, as if you were your own ‘Urb.’ Ew.

You’re still trying to score the best stuff. It’s how you get that stuff that makes this game different from its predecessors. In all previous ‘The Sims’ games, the goal was to earn Simoleons, which allowed you to buy that snazzy new couch, or that robotic maid, or even the hamster cage of death. In ‘The Urbz,’ your goal is to build what they call ‘reputation,’ but what I call ‘street cred.’ You’re trying to impress your neighbors, who differ greatly depending on which neighborhood you have chosen, and earn their respect. This, in turn, allows you to get better jobs and earn more Simoleons. So, how do you get your neighbors to like you, besides the time-honored method of pestering them until their liking goes up? The answer is two important words that set this game even father apart from previous ‘The Sims’ games. The answer is: mini-games.

Model your way to a better ‘reputation’ in a variety of mini-games.

Yes, mini-games are everywhere in ‘The Urbz’ The game even starts out with a mini-game, which depends on the system you’re playing. In the one version, your first task is to clean bird crap off of a window in a set amount of time. In another, you must rock out on an electric guitar. Typical mini-game stuff, but highly addictive nonetheless.

In yet another attempt to make the Eye Toy seem worth buying, there is an Eye Toy option in the PS2 game that allows players to appear on billboards and advertisements around the city. That has the potential to be kind of creepy. Picture someone plastering an image of their schlong all around the poor unsuspecting Urbz’ environment. It could be traumatizing.

The game will also feature ‘appearances’ by the members of the band The Black Eyed Peas, who recorded the soundtrack. Cute, huh? It’s even more wretchedly adorable when you realize that the soundtrack is one of their albums re-recorded…in Simlish. Yes, Simlish, the official language of the Sims universe. This marks the first time a band has re-recorded an album in another language for a video game, according to Steve Schnur, Worldwide Executive of Music and Audio at EA.

Impress fellow degenerates with bad goth makeup and a horrible sense of style!

‘The Urbz: Sims in the City’ is set to be released November 9th of this year. With the promise of a graphics upgrade, new character engines, mini-games, different location choices that change your game play, and a new objective, it has the potential to grab some players new to the franchise, as well as re-attract some of the players who have lost interest. Players loyal to the Sims universe will probably find the game to be the same crack they always have.