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Urbz: Hands-On

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Mortimer Goth's Distant Cousin
587 Posts
In the wide, wide world of the Sims there was always suburbia, but now with The URBZ: Sims in the City they've finally made it to the land of gritty streets and subways. The result is looking like something different and yet so familiar. There is still the Simlish gibberish that all the characters speak, but this time around it's not about running a household. Here, it's about taking over the entire city, one person at a time. We get our hands on a preview copy and take it for a spin.

The first order of business is creating a character and here we were able to choose from a few different bodily options as well as morph different parts to our liking. With some analog stick control we were able to tweak all the different body parts and came back to what was pretty close to the original in the end. Maybe our tastes are just really close to the developers, but either way anyone can make a more finely tuned Sim, er, Urb this time around.

Once the Urb has been created, it's a matter of meeting up with from the Black Eyed Peas and an older dude named Darius who's apparently the coolest cat in the Urbiverse. These two hipsters provide some tips on socializing to make the introduction to the Urb Apple that much easier. After that it's a good "see ya later" and off to the first neighborhood. There are nine neighborhoods here, each with a distinct culture, and in addition to creating the Urb, players also get to choose a starting neighborhood. Once all the papers are in order it's a quick subway ride to start the game.

In every neighborhood there are a few constants to make any Urb feel instantly familiar. There is a job of some sort, a bathroom, a clothing store, a VIP room, some food machines, some entertainment like an arcade, and an apartment for the Urb to sleep in. Many of these places are useful for keeping the Urb's five needs of sleep, hunger, hygiene, bladder, and entertainment. The standouts are the job to make some money, the clothing store for new threads, and the VIP room. The game is all about rep (utation) and to do this it's better to look good with some new clothes. To pay for the clothes the Urbz need Simoleans from the job and once the rep and the new outfit are in place there's the VIP room that then becomes available. But to explain that we'll need to rewind the tape a little.

Back with the discussion with and Darius there was an introduction to the Power Social, which is used to rapidly build up some rep and relationship points with another Urb. Starting this initiates a power meter that's very similar to the power meter in the Hot Shots Golf games. The first tap starts the meter and the second one determines the power, but the more power the Urb chooses the smaller the target area on the way back. Choose a lot of power and the target can become a tiny sliver with a better chance of missing the opportunity. Get everything right and the Urb will pull off a crazy move like hugging someone and flying up into the air with them as sparks shoot everywhere.

If the Urb wants to take a more regular approach towards building up some rep and relationship points there are many other ways of going about it. There are many different possible interactions and these are broken up into subgroup like Ice Breakers, Greet, Network, Act Friendly or Act Mean. By choosing the right moves for the different people, an Urb can move up in the ranks of the local culture and have the other people look up to him or her in admiration. Do really well and some people will even begin to copy the Urb's style. Get even more relationship points and the Urb can invite others to join his or her crew. At that point the control can switch from Urb to Urb and the quest for Urbal domination begins.

Along the way to conquering the city there are many other Urbz to meet and they'll even provide some quests to take care of. One punk has a few bones to pick and provided our Urb with a few stink bombs to hit a few targets with. Another is a skater who wanted our Urb to take care of some rascals who were spraying some graffiti over her tags. These tasks can't just be completed in one area either and will often have multiple targets in multiple neighborhoods. That means that plenty of travel is in order to become king in this land.

In addition to amassing a crew of Urban followers and building the rep there's also building of the apartments. Or at least decking them out with plenty of goods. Each neighborhood has its own apartment for the Urb to crash at, but they're pretty sparse and start out with just a bed to sleep on and a closet to change clothes with. By buying up new items such as couches, fridges, and TVs the Urbz can create a place where multiple needs can be met in one convenient location as well as creating a convenient sense of sanctuary.

Other things that are picked up along the way are new moves, greetings, and Power Socials that can be used anywhere else. By successfully traveling through different neighborhoods, the Urbz will get moves and be able to act as a cultural ambassador to different areas. The moves that are discovered aren't exclusive to that area either in that sometimes an Urb from one area will give a move used in another neighborhood to provide some extra advantage on the first trip over. In other words, it's important to meet and greet everyone in order to pick up as much as possible and, oh yeah, earn a lot of rep.

To help keep all of this under control there is a PDA/cellphone device to help out, the XAM. This shows off all of the different relationship statuses, messages, goals, and other pressing information. Like many other things going on here, this is a first for the Sims franchise and it helps to keep the adventure part of the game under control with many different relationships and people to keep track of.

Throw it all together and there's a complex study in urban social climbing in the modern world. All of this with the odd twist that is classically Sim and an appropriately bent sense of humor. It looks to be a delicate balancing act of taking the Sim style of play and applying it to an adventure/social simulation game and it will be interesting to see what happens to it. Needless to say, we'll have a lot more information when we have the full review so be sure to come back and check it out.

Team Llama
299 Posts
What a lot of typing -

I have skim-read the whole thing, Intresting stuff

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Mortimer Goth's Distant Cousin
587 Posts
yea it is
but i have wrote more then this

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