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The Urbz: Sims in the City (GameCube) Review

When Maxis decided to take its waning Sim City series down a slightly different route in the form of the more personal 'The Sims', many scoffed at the idea. However the spin-off has been so amazingly popular that it has easily surpassed its father and gained interest from EA, who now control the exclusive publishing duties. But it does stop there as a more 'street' version has been created – The Urbz. Can it live up to the legend?

There is not so much a storyline here, more a set of minor goals that you have to overcome in order to succeed in your overall aim of becoming the most 'hip' and 'trendy' newcomer on the block. The Sims has you working, shopping then returning home to work on making a habitable abode. The Urbz is all about the character – your ‘Sim’ is a work-in-progress all the time and it is your aim to bring him/her to a high level of popularity. Time to get your groove on!

Screenshot for The Urbz: Sims in the City on GameCube - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

The GameCube version of The Urbz is extremely visually impressive, with everything looking and feeling as cool as EA was most likely trying to achieve. There are so many different styles used throughout the game and each one is definitely unique to the other – from punk rockers to overly posh snobs, each and every one is suited up accordingly and have appropriate animations to go along with their attitude / personality. In fact, the animations can be so hilarious at times that you will purposely make the same choice again just to view specific ones once more – so of the dance moves are particular favourites, with some folk being so awful it is laughable! There are also no frame-rate issues here, with the twelve different districts all being easy to traverse and interesting to look at, at the same time. A success on the whole, then…

So it is quite sad when you come across the soundtrack to the game. EA was not able to go down the EA Trax route with this one, since The Sims has never been that sort of game. But since it has morphed into The Urbz, EA decided that an edgier urban feel was the order of the day…so it enlisted the talent of the Black Eyed Peas to provide the soundtrack for the game, which would not have been too bad at all, if it was not for one major drawback - the fact that everything is in Simlish. Now, whilst obviously some fans must love the language, which consists of complete and utter gibberish, but personally it drove me crazy…and the only thing worse than talking like that is singing like that…So the acceptable Let’s Get It Started turned into a complete nightmare as all the damn songs are done in the same way! Terrible and enough to make me turn the volume off after a short while!

Screenshot for The Urbz: Sims in the City on GameCube - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

It is fast becoming apparent that gamers really do prefer harder, darker versions of games nowadays, with the likes of Grand Theft Auto and Need for Speed: Underground ruling the roost, whereas the cutesy likes of Mario et al have fallen somewhat by the wayside. Therefore, EA saw the perfect window of opportunity quickly open up to make The Sims a PC-crossover success. Give the console gamers a little more than a personal computer life simulator and give them the edge they seem to desire so. The end result is quite a promising one...

As mentioned before, there are twelve districts to choose from once you have created your own Sim (from a limited selection of characteristics, limited when compared to Tiger Woods!). You begin in one of your friends’ flat, with just $300 in your pocket. The first thing to do? Mess about with what is around you! It is simply too hard to resist switching on the radio and watching as Betty (erm…please refrain from asking!) boogies to whatever tune comes on. Then the next port of call is jumping into the rubbish dumpster outside – why? Just because you can do! Perhaps there is something secret hidden inside…

Once you have finished acting the fool, you will notice that the little meters on-screen will have changed, with your character growing slightly more tired (and possibly smelly if you did what I did!). You have to watch these meters, because hunger will make you collapse, ruining any reputation built up and the same goes for the sleep meter. Everything you do and say reflects upon your overall popularity. For example, when you move into the first district available to you and meet various people and build up the nerve to talk to them, there are a numbers of options that you can choose from.

Screenshot for The Urbz: Sims in the City on GameCube - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

This is where matters become slightly repetitive, though. Each person you meet may react slightly differently to ‘Make joke’, ‘Tickle’, ‘Kiss’, ‘Gossip’, ‘Fight’ or one of the other options, but you will find yourself doing the same stuff over and over again in each district! The same goes for the jobs you can enrol yourself in – with the majority merely involving simple repeated button combinations to complete successfully. Once tired of working, you will go back to socialising, but with the correct option highlighted for the best response every time it is a pointless exercise. So off you go to spend you money on clothes to get into exclusive clubs…clothes which you do not choose, but are told you should buy. Really, why the element of choice or free will is absent from this type of game is beyond me. But it really does spoil it overall and tedium sets in far too quickly.

With the large amount of varying districts for you to wander around in you will hardly get bored if you are a long-time fans of The Sims. With so many different tasks to carry out, styles of clothing and image to try on for style, little jobs to play around with and over sixty people to befriend, the fun can go on and on. However, there is a lack of open-ended action here, with linearity being the key word. Therefore, this outing may actually alienate some Sims fans. But for those who hate the originals, and also dislike titles such as Animal Crossing and Harvest Moon, the idea of such gameplay being modified to task-based events, The Urbz will not be the nightmare that many would at first imagine.

Screenshot for The Urbz: Sims in the City on GameCube- on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

Gameplay

A very clever idea, moving the Sims' home development into a character development scenario. But the linearity lets the side down.

Graphics

The graphics are sharp, with very nice animations - if a little jerky every now and then.

Sound

Terrible Sim speech, awful Simlish adaptations of the Black Eyed Peas' songs...no, turn it off!

Value

Short overall - twelve districts, but far too similar tasks mean that you will either fly through as quick as possible or just get bored.

Cubed3 Rating

6/10
Rated 6 out of 10

Average

About this score

This really comes off as a nice idea, but one that is not quite as polished as it should be. Perhaps The Urbz 2 will rectify some of the issues found here? My advice, rent it, certainly do not buy...

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06.12.2005

6

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Developer

Maxis

Publisher

EA

Genre

Simulation

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  6/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10 (1 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

Reader comments - add yours today Comments on this Review

There are no replies to this review yet. Why not be the first?

Anything that tries to be this 'street' and 'with it' was always going to fail really. Shame, as the principle is quite nice. Get some GTA style environments in, that'd be awesome! :-D

Trying to think of a witty signature after 'Hacker-gate'...
Senior ModeratorStaff Member

It's not so much a bad game...just a bit of a wasted opportunity...

Adam Riley < Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited >
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter

Ah, here is a game we didn't need. Especially after playing the Sims 2 on the PC, I now see where the Urbz went wrong. Customisation, the whole idea of being able to do what you want and not be restricted to tasks is what makes the Sims so great. Let's hope EA take this into account with the imminent sequel.

Senior ModeratorStaff Member

It was like being led down a tunnel...I didn't really realise this until about the third district. I was foolish enough to think it'd open up any minute... :roll: Boy was I wrong!

Anyway, at

Adam Riley < Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited >
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter
Eliskuya (guest) 27.06.2010 11:02#5

Smilie I disargee

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