However, The Urbz still has no shortage of different things for your character to do, and while many goals are similar across different districts, you should have a wide enough variety of goals available at any time to not feel terribly bored or forced into playing the game a certain way. If you don't like where you are at a given moment, you can simply pick up and move to a new district, get a new change of clothes, and hang out with a whole new group of friends. The new game has fairly good artificial intelligence for your character and for others (even though characters do occasionally "forget" their next actions, like in The Sims), and it's also very lenient with "motives"--your urb's various personal needs of food, hygiene, rest, and so on. However, The Urbz still does feature the time-management gameplay made famous in The Sims in that not only do you need to look after your character's more-manageable motives, but you also need to attend certain events that happen only at specific times of the day, like jobs that are available only between certain hours and parties that happen only at midnight.
Using the right socials can help you become more popular.
It's also essential that your urb be popular and make lots of friends by successfully socializing (becoming extremely close friends with another urb will let you ask that character to join your "crew," at which point you can switch your control to that character at any time)--but pretty much anytime you speak with another urb, it's to gain popularity or unlock a new social, and not to experience an unexpected interaction like in The Sims, where the characters were more autonomous and much less predictable. In fact, rather than emphasizing home building or character interaction, The Urbz instead stresses popularity, different clothing fashions, and simple minigames, all of which are organized with a mobile phone--a presentation that seems like it would be most appealing to young girls, which is presumably the game's target audience, anyway.
The Urbz's presentation is another story altogether. The game's graphics are extremely colorful and feature a distinctive cartoonlike look that is very consistent. The Urbz does a surprisingly good job of capturing the essence of each urban subculture (or at least, a comically over-the-top version of each one), and most of the social gestures are very expressive and very much in keeping with the flavor of the game. Rich snobs from Diamond Heights just love mugging for the camera when you use the "snapshot" social on them, while thugs from the rough side of town prefer to be greeted with playful fake punches or vicious professional-wrestling maneuvers. These expressive animations play into the game's sense of humor, which also extends to the in-game descriptions and the numerous sight gags employed when urbs interact. The Xbox version is clearly the best looking of the three, sporting cleaner textures and fewer jagged polygonal edges, while the GameCube and PS2 versions have noticeably aliased graphics in some areas.
Similarly, the game's music, which includes contributions from the hip-hop group Black Eyed Peas, is uniformly very appropriate for each district, despite the fact that nearly all of it is delivered in "simlish," the gibberish language of The Sims. Hang out with the wannabe-Japanese ravers of Neon East to hear bubbly, vacuous techno music, or listen to a semi-gibberish version of the Black Eyed Peas radio hit "Shut Up" in the inner-city alleys of Cosmo Street. It's disappointing that all three games suffer from minor graphical slowdown whenever the game cuts to a wide shot of a district, or when too many urbs appear onscreen, and that there are fairly limited voice samples for the actual characters, but despite these issues, The Urbz's presentation is still surprisingly authentic.
The game's different districts do a surprisingly good job of re-creating different urban subcultures.
The Urbz offers nine major districts that will all take at least an hour to fully clear out, along with Darius' penthouse, the home of the most happening urb in the city and the game's final area. Most of each district's goals are actually fundamentally identical (completing jobs, learning at least two distinct socials from locals, earning a power social, scaring away a bully, and so on), but you'll often have so many variations on each goal to complete that you should find enough variety to keep you busy.
You might take issue with the game's few minor bugs (which sometimes cause important characters not to appear on time, or cause your sim to celebrate completing a goal when nothing has actually happened), or with the game's fundamental shift away from home design and unpredictable interactions. However, what The Urbz offers for most players is a surprisingly great presentation and varied gameplay, and PS2 owners will also be able to use their EyeToy peripheral to take real-life photos of themselves to put on in-game posters when their urb becomes popular. Those who find this last feature truly exciting, or are thrilled by the idea of playing a game that focuses on constantly dressing up a character in new clothing and hairstyles, or on managing relationships with many virtual friends by answering a virtual mobile phone, will be the ones who will likely get the most out of The Urbz.