Electronic Arts has today announced the development of The URBZ (working title) for all current-generation consoles and the Game Boy Advance. Currently scheduled for release this fall, the game will see players creating new Sims-style characters who live in a city where reputation is everything and the goal is to become the biggest "player" in the city.
"We're taking The Sims-on-console franchise in a dramatic new direction. Now that sims are in the city, they are now known as Urbz, [and] they have a bold new look and style," said Sinjin Bain, vice president and executive producer of the game at EA's Maxis studio. "For the first time, players will control Urbz at every moment of gameplay--while they are on the job, earning their street rep, or exploring a city that is alive 24/7."
In the console versions of The URBZ, players will have to take their characters to work to impress the bosses at locations such as the Sushi Bar, the Chop Shop, and the Bootleg Fireworks. Success in "job challenges" will reward the player with promotions and opportunities to forge relationships with other, more-important Urbz. Through relationships with other Urbz, players will increase their reputations, influence other Urbz, and gain access to other districts of the city.
The Urbz employs an all-new graphics engine that--it's claimed--will accurately re-create the feeling of living in a busy city. Locales in the game confirmed to date include ritzy shopping districts, downtown areas, Bohemian artist workshops, and a gritty subway station. The engine will also allow for a great deal of character customization, with support for tattoos, nose rings, and the like. The PS2 version of The URBZ will also allow EyeToy owners to download their own images into the game.
The GBA version of The URBZ is described as the sequel to The Sims Bustin' Out and is being developed by EA's Maxis Studio, in conjunction with Griptonite Games. At the start of the game, players assume the role of an Urbz who has just been fired from his or her job and is on the brink of ruin when he or she stumbles on Daddy BigBucks' devious plot to take over the city. Players will then be charged with putting an end to BigBucks' evil schemes while also building a personal reputation.
As they progress through the game, players will gain access to new vehicles and will explore 25 new locations, including Urbania, Sim Quarter, and the Bayou. At the Bayou, players will have the opportunity to interact with other residents, unlock new Xizzle motive power-ups, collect more than 120 new objects, and play eight different minigames, with titles like Motocross Mayhem and Moogoo Monkey Madness. GBA link-up options for two will allow players to play head-to-head minigames, trade rare items, and unlock additional features.
The URBZ will be unveiled at next month's Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles. We'll bring you more information on the game as soon as it becomes available.