For those of you who don’t follow the PC market at all, and have somehow missed the few encounters The Sims have had on the consoles, I would like to introduce you all to one of the most popular series in the last five years, The Sims. The Sims series has been all about controlling people’s lives taking them through their daily habits (food, hygiene, bladder, social, ect.) to make a family. The series has always been open to do whatever it is you want, but never has it allowed you to go this far in the city. That’s right people the guys over at EA and Maxis have brought forth a game that’s all about being in the city, hint the name The Urbz: Sims in the City for the PS2! So is this another blockbuster hit for the series?
I must admit that before digging into The Urbz, I did have a little bit of curiosity on how the developers were really going to pull this off. You see The Sims franchise really has not really taken off on the consoles like it did the PC market in both The Sims and The Sims 2. I guess the controllers just don’t suit the game the way the keyboard does. Whatever the case maybe, it just hasn’t seemed to be very fortunate for The Sims series. I was also skeptical about whether or not the system would work outside the household. Well all of these questions were answered and most of them came out in a pretty positive experience.
So the story behind The Urbz is this, you play as either a male or female character who has just recently moved into the city. So throughout the game, you’re going to try to mould your character into a well-known and respected citizen. Once you start the game, you will then have to accompany your character with one of the twelve different groups of districts, each with a certain type of person. Once you choose the district, you are off to create your character with a tool that will be very easy to pick up for any fan of the series. Once you have created your Urb, you will be dropped in your first apartment, and then sent into the meat and potatoes of the game.
Once your dropped into the apartment you are given a XAM (or in other words a PDA), which gives you all the necessary information on how to progress through the game. Throughout the game you will have to check on this quite often making sure there aren’t any new updates or anything you need to know about.
The Urbz puts a heavy emphasis on the social aspects of the game rather then the more meaningless tasks that fans of the series have become so used to over the years. You will find that a good number of the objectives given to you on your XAM will be regarding the social category, which kind of takes away from the overall appeal of talking to other Sims.
But for the first time ever in The Sims franchise, you actually get to go with your Sims to work. That’s right, instead of having to wait for them come back from work, you get to go with them to work, although the tasks you do at work can be somewhat meaningless, just the mere fact that you get to follow your Sims to work is a pretty neat feature.
Another big thing in The Urbz are threads, or in English, clothes, which have a much stronger impact in this game. You see depending on which district you are in will depend on what style of clothing is in (similar to real life), so if your trying to make it big in a specific district, you got to make sure you dress appropriately.
What’s really interesting about this game is that for all that it’s doing differently, it still just does not feel all that much different from the typical Sims formula. For me, besides a few of the different concepts that the game throws out there, like following your Sim to work, and some of the city adventures that the game presents you with, it just doesn’t feel like all that much of an upgrade. This is more likely then not because the upgrades that were made to the formula aren’t all that entertaining. And what The Urbz: Sims in the City’s gameplay really boils down to is The Sims with a new outfit. Now this doesn’t make the game bad by any means, but nowhere near as good as it could have been.
The Sims series up until their recent release of The Sims 2 really hasn’t been all that great in the graphics standpoint. The series has been looking pretty dated over the past few years, but can The Urbz manage to do a nice upgrade like The Sims 2?
I really believe that The Urbz is the best looking console version of The Sims out to day, and I will tell you why. The developers knew exactly what they wanted to do with the visuals of this game and they went for it 100%. All of the colors, the different clothing styles, the hair styles, everything in this game takes that urban culture look and does a lot with it. The use of color in this game is solid, and the character models, although looking a bit outdated, goes perfectly with the theme. The environments may not be as detailed as we would have liked but I must reiterate again that the use of colors on the environments just keep the theme of the game alive.
Although not everything is perfect In the City, the game does do a great job of using the color, and the style of the game to their advantage to make a very nice looking game.
Being a huge fan of The Sims series, I must admit The Urbz was a game that I personally was really looking forward to. Now with that being said, the game just really didn’t perform as well as I thought it could have, sticking more towards the normal formula, something I didn’t expect from the game. Although there were some nice changes to the game, I must say that there were other changes that become more of annoyances then anything. But when it all boils down I must say I did still have a lot of fun with this game, just because it took the Sims where they hadn’t been before and that was a nice change of pace.
I commend the people over at Maxis for going with a different idea with their hit series. And although it may not be the best game of the series, for the diehard fans, there is still enough to find in this game to make it a worthwhile experience. For the rest of you it would probably be better just to use this game as a rental.
The owner and editor-in-chief of Darkstation.com. I've been apart of the website since 2002 and purchased the website in 2010. Owning and running Darkstation is a dream come true. I love video games and I love writing and talking about them even more.