Review: The Urbz: Sims in the City (XB)

Game: The Urbz: Sims in the City
System: Microsoft XBox
Also On: PlayStation2, GameCube
Genre: Strategy
Developer: Maxis
Publisher: EA Games

I remember first getting hooked into sim games with Sim Earth in middle school. Since then I’ve been adding to the experience with Sim Ant, Sim City and The Sims. When I heard of The Urbz: Sims in the City I thought it sounded kind of hokey. But I can’t seem to dislike sim games that pull me in hook line and sinker.

Let’s Review:

1. Story

So you’re the new kid in town and Darius is the cool guy in the blue jogging suit that meets you at parties and gives you power socials to wow the people around you. There’s not much of a plot after that other than you trying to collect parts of Darius’ Secret Machine to get into his penthouse. A few villains will show up and you’d better have the right power social in supply or they’ll steal $1000 and bring your mood to an all time low. You’ve got to have the Rep and the Style to smooth things between you and the bouncer, but other than that the game is all about socializing and building some pretty bizarre relationships with the other Urbs you come across.

Score: 5/10

2. Graphics

The graphics were interesting. It felt that they had made your character infinitely customizable. (With the right amount of simoleans, of course.) It seemed as though each part of town had it’s own atmosphere because of the way the graphics were arranged. The movements of each character could give you an indication of their mood and you could tell who was a bad dancer by the way it looked like they were having a seizure. Overall I was impressed at the amount of thought and detail that had been given to the graphics.

Score: 9/10

3. Sound

What Sims installment is complete without Simlish? That lovable language that makes no sense whatsoever. The great part about this game is that they have a huge selection of music. From skater punk to emo to underground German techno to white girl pop there seems like there’s something for everyone. The Black Eyed Peas even make an audio appearance. And it’s all done in Simlish to sound similar to a lot of songs you’ve probably already heard. I thought this was a very clever addition to the game because it gave each section of town it’s own feel. That, on top of the sound effects made this top notch as far as the sound goes.

Score: 9/10

4. Control

I have to be honest here. The first ten minutes of the game I was getting frustrated because I couldn’t figure out how to flip the furniture around so that my gal could take a shower. There are so many menu screens to navigate through and it’s not particularly user friendly. After some puttering around and consultation of the manual I was able to figure it out. But this didn’t solve the navigation problems I was facing when I wanted to interact with another Urb quickly. I think that if they had put as much thought into the user interface that was given to the graphics and sound it would have made things a great deal better.

Score: 4/10

5. Replayability

This game ranks high in replayability just because of how many options you have to choose from. You can dress differently, hang with different crowds, be nice, or be mean to everybody. The whole town is your playground as far as I’m concerned. You could play this game from start to finish more than 20 times and it would be different each time. The only problem with starting over is trying to build up your job points and cash stash. Because this game is so open-ended you may be more inclined to just keep playing instead of starting over with a different Urb.

Score: 7/10

6. Balance

There’s nothing particularly difficult about the game. Sure it’s frustrating if you don’t have a power social to wow away a villain and they steal a thousand dollars, but it’s easy enough to socialize your way into parties to meet up with Darius and replenish your supply. The challenges really come when you’re trying to work your way through a job and hit the a, x, and y buttons in the correct sequence. Even if you’re not a perfectionist it won’t get in the way of you earning cash. Of course the more Rep you get the harder it is to get even more to slide past the giant gorilla of a bouncer. So as far as balance, this game is good at keeping you in your place until you’re really ready to move on up the social ladder.

Score: 7/10

7. Originality

It’s hard to say how original this game really is. The function of the game is a lot like any of the previous Sims games I’ve played except the emphasis is based more on socialization and getting in good with different cliques. It was interesting concept even if it felt that your Urb lost all hint of their own personality in trying to fit in with a bunch of different social groups. I still wouldn’t say that this game was a breakthrough and is pretty average in terms of originality.

Score: 5/10

8. Addictiveness

The Urbz is all about rewarding the player. That makes this game very addictive to me. I feel like I can keep going and get rewarded for each thing that I do. I want to unlock a new part of town, a strange social move or a new pet for my Urb’s. (Although I do have to say that I was less than pleased to unlock the mangy cat that hissed and pissed all over the apartment. The pet monkey was an interesting addition though.) I’m glad that there’s more than one Xbox in my house, otherwise my roommates may have had an interesting time trying to play Halo 2 online while I was glued to The Urbz. Yeah, it’s true. I found The Urbz more addictive than Halo 2. So sue me.

Score: 9/10

9. Appeal Factor
The game is fun and “hip” and based on scoring big in the social arena. I think that it’s truly geared more towards younger gamers that put more credibility into how popular they are with their own gang outside of the video game. Considering the fact that most older people don’t play video games anyway, I’d say The Urbz is your average crowd pleaser. However, I don’t think it will appeal to people who aren’t already in love with the Sims.

Score: 5/10

10. Miscellaneous

The best part about the game is the fact that it uses and makes fun of all your stereotypical social groups. You can visit the Goths in Central Station and use the romantic social move, “bite.” Then you’ve got your Ravers at Neon East who have dance machines that look suspiciously like DDR and a social greeting that appears to be Pokemon. You can “suck face” with the bikers, “vogue” with the rich elite, and “rap” with the gansta’ wanna bes. The jobs you can take reflect social groups as well. Be a sushi chef, trick skater, super model, or even my favorite, a ferret tamer. I was very impressed with the amount of thought and detail put into this game to make it so well rounded. As ridiculous as each stereotype is, it kept me laughing and playing to see what came next.

Score: 9/10

1. Story: 5/10
2. Graphics: 9/10
3. Sound: 9/10
4. Control: 4/10
5. Replayability: 7/10
6. Balance: 7/10
7. Originality: 5/10
8. Addictiveness: 9/10
9. Appeal Factor: 5/10
10. Miscellaneous: 9/10



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