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The newest foray into the Sim world is the new "hipper" version, The Urbz: Sims in the City. Instead of merely making your Sim happy, making friends and getting promotions, now you have a rep to maintain. Will a DS touch screen element help add to the addictive qualities, or is a handheld version of the simulator just not up to speed with the consoles?
Graphically, the game isn't all that impressive. It looks like your typical GBA stuff here. The facial expressions portrayed by the various people you can talk to are displayed well, but the majority of the game looks very lackluster. Buildings are rather dull and look quite similar. It's also often difficult to tell exactly what it is that your Sim is picking up off the ground or weather the person you're chasing down to talk to is really the one you're after.
The touch screen interface is a handy addition to the game. The symbols used to discern the various folders and options aren't very clear, but you soon are able to remember them after repeated viewings.
Itís difficult comparing the DS version of The Urbz to its console counterpart, especially considering that the Black Eyed Peas took care of part of the soundtrack. However, the audio can easily be compared to the Game Boy Advance version. Obviously, the quality of the music and sound effects are much better on the DS thanks to the stereo sound. Everything is nicely produced and blends into the game very well. Although you donít hear it much, the characters speak fluent Simlish.
You start out as a lowly squeegee worker, cleaning off windows when you suddenly find yourself fired when your workplace is bought out by the richest guy in town, Daddy Bigbucks. You find out from your old boss that he wants you to avenge him and stop Bigbucks from buying out the whole town and transforming it into his own personal play toy. So with nothing left to loose you strike out on your own to build your rep and make a name for yourself.
It would be helpful if there was a tutorial option in the beginning to aid in knowing the game play system. You are often left to explore on your own until you happen across a new goal for your Sim or, if you're lucky enough, someone explains something for you.
You aren't given a whole lot of character customization in the game. The outfits are limited and the colors aren't very vibrant. There are a few shirts to try out, but with only a handful of options, the gameís console counterpart crushes anything this game has to offer. When it comes to The Sims, customization is key, no matter how ďurbanĒ they are.
The game itself is fun, sharing that same addictive quality that many of you have come to enjoy from The Sims series of games on the consoles or PC. You get to earn money through fun job related mini-games and buy yourself a home along with the proper necessities. As usual, keeping your Sim happy is an ordeal in itself, but now you have a whole new thing to keep in order; your rep.
Reputation is a big thing in The Urbz. During character creation you're asked a series of questions to determine which rep group you'll be in, be it Streeties, Artsies, Nerdies, etc. You can earn rep points with your own group, make friends with other groups, or try to get in good with the leader of another group to join their clic`.
Your main objective in the game is talking to people. By seeking out different people you'll open up new goals. Depending on what goals you complete you'll earn various rewards and/or rep points. You'll often be running around trying to please some people and buy things off others. It can become a little tedious, but then, this is a Sim game, so no big surprise. You definitely won't have a lack of things to do in this game. You are constantly being given new goals as your plotline develops and you build up your character's skills. A big way to increase your rep is to get friendship beads to exchange at Club Xizzle to getÖ well, xizzles! Xizzles are advantages that your rep group has. Earn enough xizzles and you can even gain special Rep Xizzles.
The touch screen does help somewhat in lessening the crowdedness of the screen when you're looking up purchase options and goal objectives. It's a nice feature to have for a Sim game considering you're often dealing with many elements going on at once and you have limited screen space to cover it all. It was also very nice to have the option of saving at any point in the game.
The Urbz is a fun and addictive simulation game. It utilizes the DS touch screen feature well, although the full power of the DSís resources isnít fully expressed. While it may not be as in-depth as its console counterparts are, the DS version does a decent job of representing itself. It gives you a lengthy gameplay and plenty to do to keep you occupied. As far as being a launch game for the Nintendo DS, it seems that the game could have used a bit more time under the microscope, plus some added touch screen features.
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