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The Urbz (Console) Review
Darius There's a party, and you're not invited! Not yet anyway - you'll first need to gain rep and style. Do you think you got what it takes, then the Urbz might be just the thing for you. In the latest game in the Sims family, for the consoles and handheld, Sims have gone urban, and you need to help one get famous in the city. There are nine districts to check out, each of them with a different look and style, and of course different urbz walking around. While gaining rep, don't forget to socially humiliate those three villains (each one appears in three districts) to make them leave the place. Get a job to earn money to pay the rent, and skills to earn even more through better jobs.

At least, that's what EA claims the game should be like. Although it's all true, it also sounds a bit better than it really is... I checked out the PlayStation 2 version of the game thoroughly, to tell you what I think of it.
The Urbz
Ralph Who??
Ralph Goger
Meet Ralph Goger, a young Sim new in the city to become Urb. He has potential, but obviously still too much of a newbie to be famous straight away. When starting the game, you can create your own urb. Pick a name, gender, fitness and skin colour. After that, it's time to shape the body a bit better. Using morphing techniques on both face and body you can customize the way your urb looks. It's not as detailed as in the Sims 2, but better than Bustin' Out in which you could only pick a few body shapes. You don't have to use any morphing if you don't want to though - presets are still available for you to choose. Once you're done, you can't just pick your Urb's clothes yet. It's time to pick a district to start in first. In Ralph's case, I decided it would be nice to have him start in the Foundry. Morphing
Ralph, Foundry Style
Same sim, different outfit. This is Ralph in Foundry style. The Foundry is the first district which Ralph entered; the first of nine:
Ralph in Diamond Heights Ralph in Cozmo Street Ralph on Tar Beach Ralph as Skater in Kicktail Park
These are some other outfits Ralph had been wearing in the city. Each one in a different style in a different district...
Where do you want to go?
Welcome Home! As soon as your Urb enters the city in his apartment at 98th street, 3rd floor, he's welcomed by Will.I.am from the Black Eyed Peas and Darius, the big shot in the city who will guide you through life on the streets. The apartment is where the game really starts - impress Darius using a power social and he'll decide to help you. You get some basic furniture from Will and some money from your mom to start off. This helps you decorate your apartment but only for a little bit - it's time to enter the city, and to get some more.

In every district of the city you'll find more or less the same things: stairs or lifts to enter or leave the place, a clothes shop, a till to buy furniture and walls, some toilets and sinks, a job object, vending machines for drinks or snacks, and a bedroom with of course a bed and wardrobe. All of these help you keep your mood up - but more about that later. This is also the first disappointment: although every district has a unique style and a different layout, in the end you're visiting the same place in a different layout nine times. Often the style and perhaps some objects you find in the area are the only difference. The basics to keep you going, are all very similar.

The VIP areas are special. Those are the places you have to try to gain access to. Gain the rep, follow the dress code, and you're in. At nights all the urbz in the area, and Darius, will gather in the VIP area. Although to achieve the main goals - defeating the villains - it might be useful to enter these areas, it's not absolutely necessary. In the areas it's a bit easier to keep up your mood, as there are some better objects available. The objects are also quite unique, and nice to see in action. Rep and Style are Required

The looks of the districts aren't limited to the objects and buildings. The Urbz also dress differently everywhere, and of course you have to dress like them to get respect. This can be done by entering the local clothing shop, which is near the edge of the area. After the game's finished loading the shop, you can choose what your Sim will look like from that point on. The clothing styles are different everywhere and you can make one urb look very differently by just changing the clothes, haircut, shave and perhaps some glasses. One urb can so have many styles - there's something for everybody. There are some clothes which are ready completely. Just buy them, pick the colour, and that's it. But there are also some clear shirts, on which you can place a badge of choice. It's a shame you can't change the colour of those shirts, but it's a nice difference.

Goals Even the goals are all but a few the same in every district: defeat the villain, learn some new moves, get and complete some jobs, and then a few others, which are quite regularly using some social action on a sim. The amount of goals seems higher than it really is too. In each district you have to complete the jobs. When you complete a job, you learn a move - which is another goal. That way you achieve two goals at the same time. So like with other games (and that's not just Maxis), things seem bigger, better and more than they really are.

So, perhaps it's home sweet home...?
The Empty Lot
As said before, the game starts in your apartment. An empty one - there's no furniture there at all, except the dumpster. You get a few items from Will for your first place, and that's it. The game more or less forces you to head into the city. There's no classical build mode, so you'll have to buy the rest in one of the districts. In every district you can buy objects in the style of the district - but the objects are pretty much the same everywhere.

In total there are three apartments to go to, of which two have to be unlocked by gaining enough rep. These too are empty places - they just get bigger and that's it. You have to buy some furniture again, and you can try to unlock the pet (a dog, cat or monkey) of the apartment - which by the way is the only goal for these apartments. That's an idea that seems to have come straight from Bustin' Out on the GBA, with the same flaws. They don't do much. They walk around, pee on the floor, eat, and that's about it. You can play with them, but why would you do that if you have no social mood bar to green? Those pets are a nice gimmick, but in general quite worthless. They're also quite small, so sometimes it's hard to find them. A Pet at Home

In the end, you don't spend much time at the place you pay so much rent for. Everything you need to do can be done in the city, which is where all the action is. I guess Maxis left in a 'home' place for the fans of the original game, but even without them the game wouldn't have missed much. It's there and that's it. Ignore the place as much as you like - you don't really need it.
Written at 00:30 on Wednesday 8 December 2004 by ChEeTaH.

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