20 years later, I'm rediscovering the best PS2-era Sims spinoff and now I don't even need The Sims 5

The Urbz: Sims in the City for PS2
(Image credit: Electronic Arts)

The Urbz made me want to become a body piercer at the tender age of nine. Who could blame me, though, when the grungy attitude of Urbzville represented everything Pleasantview was not?

I'd been a diehard Sims 2 fan for years by 2004, always fighting my siblings every day after school for a go on the computer so I might wreak havoc upon my unsuspecting digital playthings, but The Urbz soon changed that. I'm revisiting the city kid iteration of my childhood favorite franchise once again, basking in the pure nostalgia of trading my idyllic Sims 4 environs for the grimy, gritty, rep-building streets of Urbzville via my brother's old PS2. This game is 20 years old, but The Urbz harkens back to an exciting time for EA's flagship life sim – and I only wish that The Urbz 2 were on the horizon instead of The Sims 5.

Urbz and legend 

The Urbz: Sims in the City for PS2

(Image credit: Electronic Arts)

If an alien visited Earth and wanted to know what the height of cool looked like in 2004, I would direct them first to The Urbz and then to My Chemical Romance's second studio album. The two entities occupy a similar space in my brain, and in a way, my love for one very much fed the other.

As a burgeoning emo kid yearning to live out the punk rock fantasies I was far too young to realize, The Urbz was my way into the subculture. The Black Eyed Peas' Simlish versions of all their most popular songs were all over The Urbz' soundtrack, sure, but for me, it was all about the aesthetic. I lived vicariously through my Urb, envisaging myself as a cool, capable teenager working part time at a piercing shop, dyeing my hair all sorts of wild colors and building up my street cred on the scuffed path to popularity. In reality, I was a mousy-haired pre-teen with chipped black nail polish, and as I near my 30s, I feel much the same.

In that way, The Urbz is still a transformative yet timeless experience that does something different. Newer iterations of The Sims might add a fresh lick of paint to your metropolitan dreams, most notably through expansion packs like City Living or For Rent, and I'm sure some of the best Sims 4 mods do well to emulate its urban charm. Still, nothing comes close to the personality of the original, and I think EA would do well to capitalize on that for newer fans of the franchise.

The Urbz: Sims in the City for PS2

(Image credit: Electronic Arts)

The Urbz still occupies a very special place in the hearts and minds of many dedicated Sims fans.

Exploring the network of underground posses, cliques, and seedy hangouts makes me wonder what The Urbz 2 might look like. 

The Urbz shone a light on under-represented subcultures whose sartorial and musical choices sat firmly on the fringes of society back in the early 00s, all spiked-up hair and edgy (for that time) facial piercings; a modern iteration would have to tackle the fact that the unconventional has become somewhat conventional in 2024. You'd be hard-pressed not to find a woman sporting a vibrant pink bob in London today, and having a mobile phone in hand is no longer the epitome of grown-up cool now that most toddlers know how to use an iPad by the time they reach three.

Truth be told, I have no idea what the 2024 equivalent of a punk caricature would be, or how it could be represented in a game like The Urbz. Maybe EA would let us roleplay as an ayahuasca-swilling, chronically enlightened, down-on-our-luck uber-hippie busking in subway stations? Maybe the publisher might crank the irony way up and instead of grinding for street cred, we'd be locked into the ceaseless pursuit of followers, subscribers, and ultimate influencer glory? Or maybe, just maybe, The Urbz 2 could be a refreshed and revitalized remake of The Urbz to bring it in line with modern technology?

One thing's for sure: The Urbz still occupies a very special place in the hearts and minds of many dedicated Sims fans. It's a longshot, but given the choice between The Sims 5 or seeing a recognizable spinoff getting some proper TLC, I'll always go for the latter – especially if it means getting My Chemical Romance to record a few more songs in Simlish for me to rock out to in a tattoo parlor.

Looking for more PS2 gems? Why not check out the best James Bond game you've probably forgotten all about?

Jasmine Gould-Wilson
Staff Writer, GamesRadar+

Jasmine is a staff writer at GamesRadar+. Raised in Hong Kong and having graduated with an English Literature degree from Queen Mary, University of London in 2017, her passion for entertainment writing has taken her from reviewing underground concerts to blogging about the intersection between horror movies and browser games. Having made the career jump from TV broadcast operations to video games journalism during the pandemic, she cut her teeth as a freelance writer with TheGamer, Gamezo, and Tech Radar Gaming before accepting a full-time role here at GamesRadar. Whether Jasmine is researching the latest in gaming litigation for a news piece, writing how-to guides for The Sims 4, or extolling the necessity of a Resident Evil: CODE Veronica remake, you'll probably find her listening to metalcore at the same time.