The thing about The Sims is that they live in their posh, little suburban homes and go to sleep at a reasonable hour every night, then go to work in the morning, brush their teeth between meals, and all that. Admittedly, it's boring. And that's why EA is trying to put an edge on its extremely successful franchise in the upcoming The Urbz: Sims in the City--a game whose title is self-explanatory in context--which will be available for the Xbox, GameCube, PlayStation 2, and Game Boy Advance this November. We got a first look at the game at a recent Electronic Arts pre-E3 event and are here to report our findings.
The urban sims in this game aren't going to be so worried about personal hygiene and other mundane things like their suburban counterparts are. Instead, this game will be all about reputation--doing what it takes to fit in with and then being influential within various (nine, exactly) urban youth cultures, ranging from the celebrity to the slacker/skater. By doing the sorts of things that these cultures find agreeable, you'll be able to endear yourself to them and eventually become a leader among them. Seems like an interesting concept, and the whole game has a vaguely comical look to it (incidentally reminiscent of the Bratz line of "edgy" dolls for girls, not that we know anything about that) and is set in a New York City-style environment, which gives The Urbz a very different look and feel than The Sims.
Gameplay will apparently revolve around a series of minigames, though we didn't get to see any of these in action. Players will have to control their urban sims through a series of trials in order to impress various other characters. For instance, we were told that players may have to spend a night as a sushi chef, trying to cater to the late-night dining crowd.
The Urbz will be playable for the first time at E3, and we hope to get a better sense of the game at that time. We're also particularly interested to see how the PlayStation 2 version of the game will incorporate support of the innovative EyeToy gadget--EA has announced the compatibility but hasn't given any specifics. We'll be back with more information on The Urbz.