Sims Bustin' Out sequel exposed

Developers Maxis have leaked early details of the sequel to The Sims Bustin' Out - and, in contrast to the traditional suburban Sims setting, this time round proceedings will be decidedly street. Due to be released on PS2, Xbox, Gamecube and GBA, the game currently has a working title of Urban Sims.

The series is taking major new steps this time out by shifting geographical location to the big city and honing the focus of the gameplay on building a reputation. This has a significant knock-on effect on various 'living' elements. Work has taken on a whole new perspective as it's one of the main ways that individuals build their reputation and this is reflected in the gameplay.

Your sim will actively have to do a job in this new game, rather than simply returning home tired after a day's work, as was previously the case. Your work ethic better be on the ball too: a job done well will lead to promotions, which also takes you up the social ladder as you start to mix with more bigwigs. Of course, a better job means more money, better clothes and so forth, and all the while you'll be enhancing your reputation.

This access to more suave clothing takes on special meaning in Urban Sims because you'll be able to customise your character to a finer degree than previous titles. This is linked to the other characteristic that's important in the game - respect, which is garnered through influence. Yes, you're out to directly influence others and the way you look plays a key role in this. Other characters will check out your clothes and if they like what they see, they'll begin to imitate your style. Apparently, your scope for influence can go beyond the individual and extend to whole communities within the city. Yep, pull that one off and you're clearly a true player.

In the game you'll have a mobile phone and email while the new user interface is styled like a PDA. And this reflection of image, style and general city slickness is important enough that Maxis have pulled in cultural advisors to make sure they get the whole package bang up-to-date. Which all leads to a big shift in the visual style of the sims' world as it's been firmly rooted in the suburbs in the past.

Meanwhile, Griptonite Games' GBA version is based on this new city world but, like its GBA version of Bustin' Out, revolves around mini-games, of which there appear to be eight new ones. The game will also feature 25 locations (including Bayou, Sim Quarter and Urbania), new travelling modes, link-up play that features trading and head-to-head, plus unlockable features not accessible via the single-player mode.

We're expecting Sims publishers Electronic Arts to release an official statement on the game shortly and we'll certainly be reporting on Urban Sims during next month's E3.

Urban Sims is expected to debut on PS2, Xbox, Gamecube and GBA but there's no official word yet on a release date