The Urbz Sims in the City (Xbox)*

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The top computer game franchise continues to branch out onto other platforms, as it explores a new lifestyle in this spin-off title. Like the 2003 console versions of The Sims and The Sims Bustin' Out, The Urbz: Sims in the City uses the life simulation of the popular PC series as the basis for a role-playing game with a familiar, modern setting. Instead of the pastoral suburban neighborhoods of earlier games, however, The Urbz plays out in a fast-paced city where style and reputation are the keys to success.

Players can design their Urbz characters from scratch, choosing gender, appearance, and name; many additional customization options become available as rewards for reaching certain in-game goals. Each game revolves around the player's single character, as he or she finds a job, makes friends, and gains the cultural understanding required to be accepted as an insider in the city's various districts. Each of the city's districts is designed with a unique cultural style, from the dangerous, seedy slums to snobby, high-society strips.

Shops in each area sell different items that can help the Urbz chase their goals and allow them to develop their own unique personalities, but in order to afford these things, they'll need to find a paying job. Unlike in earlier Sims games, players control their characters when they're at work, where they may gain new skills and abilities as well as a paycheck.

Most city areas also have clubs or other meeting places, but in order to fit in, the player's character will have to show respect to the locals and learn the social interactions they use. As Urbz become better acquainted with the particular styles and values of each area, their reputations increase, and they gain access to more locations, objects, and living arrangements. Ultimately, Urbz can develop a reputation that opens doors to the city's most luxurious penthouses, and wins them a friendly reception wherever they go.