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SimCity Review


By now you've probably heard of all the connectivity problems surrounding SimCity that ruined the launch of the game stateside. Well thankfully the EU launch was a bit of a different affair. At midnight on March 8th my download of Maxis' latest title went live on EA's controversial digital distribution service, Origin, and took roughly an hour to download the 4gb required to play the game. Once ready, I then booted up a European server and was gliding through well paced tutorial, that shows you the ins and outs of being a mayor in this lovely looking city simulator.

SimCity is officially the sixth title in the long running series, yet often referred to as SimCity 5 around the Internet due to SimCity Societies releasing in 2007 to pretty much tepid reviews. Societies was the first game in the series to be handled by someone other than Maxis itself and we just don't talk about SimCity Societies. Just no. The last Maxis and seriously enjoyable SimCity title was way back in a era before HD consoles, before Peter Kay was waxing lyrical about Garlic Bread, a time way before the Assassin's Creed series - 2003.

Onwards and upwards to the modern era, the general idea and goal of the game stays pretty much on a par with previous titles; Create a thriving metropolis that your residents love to inhabit and others enjoy to visit. How you go about achieving this is up to you. And this time round the world is at your fingertips with a slew of new and shiny features for you to develop your virtual little haven.

The main SimCity gameplay mostly revolves around 6 main tools in every game. Roads, Zones, Utilities, 'Ploppable' buildings and city beautification. Roads allow your sims to move around the city, there's single file dirt tracks, all the way up to 6 lane highway styles that allow for high density development. Zones are for designating building space along the roads and as with previous titles in the series, split into three types; Homes and apartments are planned using the green Residential zone, shops and businesses with the blue Commercial zone and factories are handled with the yellow Industrial zones. Along the path to the ultimate sprawling megacity you'll have to keep up with the needs of your fellow sims. Just like you and me, Sims require the usual services to go about their daily routine. Power, clean water, rubbish disposal and a competent sewage service. Make sure you keep tabs on the sewage system, as backed up pipes mean swimming pool amounts of Sim-poop will soon be flowing around the streets of your once thriving township, causing anger and sickness across the land.

SimCity's ploppable buildings are just as important as the others mentioned above, included in this section are some of the things that make your city a little more unique when compared to your friends lots. Police, Fire Departments and Medical clinics are all vital in order to keep your sims happy. As you increase in size, the low tech industrial and the more power-hungry power plants will cause large amounts of air pollution, increasing sickness and ultimately creating widespread unhappiness. Unhappiness slows city growth and expansion, meaning that the dream of owning that fancy Mayor's Mansion you've been working towards will slowly be slipping away, it's all connected. Lastly, City Beautification, which is relatively simple, yet shouldn't be considered an afterthought. Sims require a little downtime, somewhere to relax with the kids or walk the virtual canine, therefore placing parks and little avenues close to the residential zones and commercial area will keep the population pleased while increasing the general land value of your zones. This, in turn, will attract wealthier Sims to flock to your area. Simple!

The attention to detail in SimCity borders on incredible. The inhouse created 'GlassBox' engine allows the player to view and maneuver around like never before with excellent animations whether you're viewing at ground level or watching afar from the skies. SimCity is filled to the brim with little added features that make the whole time spent with the game a supremely enjoyable experience. Buildings all have a unique look to them meaning you'll never have a city full of the same generic building types. From the moment you place your zones, to the eventual skyscrapers of the Residential and Commercial zones, the animation is a joy to watch. Foundations are planted, scaffolding goes up, cranes and workers busy away at creating the new home for your new community. When a fire spreads, fire trucks race to the scene and fire fighters organise the scene and effectively battle the situation as a news helicopter films the action from above. It's all quite easy to get lost within the living, connected nature of the city.

That said, SimCity isn't without it's problems or annoyances. Each city size is limited to a surprisingly small 2 kilometer square, which when compared to the past games, just isn't nearly enough. Problems arise from this situation after you've quickly filled the entire space and the Zone advisor continues to badger you about creating more residential, commercial or industrial zones. Another slight problem is with the AI, after a recent spate of fires in the city I decided to follow the Fire service around. I had 5 fire engines available in the region and instead of sending one engine to one fire, the AI decided it would be a better choice to send all 5 to one house and let three other houses perish in a blaze of odd disappointment.

When it comes to connection problems, Origin only hampered my game play once in the entire time reviewing the game and the team should be commended for the round the clock updates and the amount of incredible abuse they've had to endure over the last week. EA's biggest PC exclusive in sometime, SimCity, is utterly engrossing and a joy to play. I've managed to rack up an excessive amount hours of game time since the game released last Friday, it's one of those unique titles that when you're not playing it, you're thinking about playing, improving and future plans.

Words by Colin Gallacher.

(Version Tested: PC)

Pros

- Unquiely addictive gameplay
- Incredible attention to detail
- "I'll play just a little longer.."

Cons

- Continuing online upset
- Silly AI actions
- Small city sizes

Edited On 12 Mar, 2013

Comments
( 21 )
ASC's avatar
ASC 4 years ago
From what I understand the limited city size is meant to make the region system significant; with your neighbouring cities able to cover and share what your city lacks. That said, optionally larger city sizes would be good as it would allow people the freedom to simply do whatever they want rather then being dependant, but given that larger cities will increase server load they need to keep improving the servers before they go messing with city sizes
troublemaker's avatar
troublemaker 4 years ago
I did think alot of the issues are a result of pre-release reviewers ragging on the debug/review code not working properly on the review locked servers. But once the game went live, it was clear that EA had (once again) clearly under-estimated the server load they would require. I am tempted to pick this up, Sim City holds a special place for me as one of the greats and I would love to play the new one. However, I had heard about the small city size before and I can't help but be worried that expansion from it will require paid DLC or a microtransaction and that does concern me a bit. All the other Cons, assuming EA fix their servers, or allow a client sided save at some point, don't bother me too much. AI was always a little weird in SimCity. Great review Joe
Johno Muller's avatar
Johno Muller 4 years ago
1,065 words, I think you went over the limit to win the points with this article Joe ;-)
Pyroloveridge's avatar
I Like This ^
Pyroloveridge 4 years ago
0000000000's avatar
i also like this :D
0000000000 4 years ago
Joe2120's avatar
Joe2120 4 years ago
I agree it's a great review, but Colin wrote this one not me :D
Johno Muller's avatar
Well that ruins my joke a little
Johno Muller 4 years ago
troublemaker's avatar
Then I apologise profusely for acknowledging the wrong person. I made the assumption given that everyone seems to post under your name (see comp winners from yesterday) and the naming thing at the end of articles doesn't seem to work properly. Great review Colin, nice work.
troublemaker 4 years ago
Joe2120's avatar
Yeah when it's someone else's review I always post their name at the bottom of the review. I posted the comp thing yesterday, Ash just contributed to it to help me out. I'm a busy man haha :D
Joe2120 4 years ago
troublemaker's avatar
The offer is always here if you want someone to help out! Wink wink
troublemaker 4 years ago
DynamiteWhyte's avatar
I think you've basically just volunteered to do his housework.
DynamiteWhyte 4 years ago
troublemaker's avatar
Any opportunity to get into the man's good books. scrubbing undies, cleaning the kitchen floor with a toothbrush. I have a want to get into the good graces of a man that can help me do a job that I might enjoy. And I need an excuse not to be at home with pregnant hormonal wife! haha!
troublemaker 4 years ago
Joe2120's avatar
Joe2120 4 years ago
On a different note I agree with every single word that Colin wrote. Awesome game, between us i think we must have hit the 30 hour mark already.
0000000000's avatar
0000000000 4 years ago
my wife was really excited about this but i didnt get it her with all the issues, after reading i think ill happily buy it her once all the issues are fully resolved and when the price drops, will keep her quiet but i just brought her a 3ds xl so she will forget about this for a while :D
Anonymous user's avatar
Steven 4 years ago
Here's my review:- Rubbish, absolute rubbish. :-)
troublemaker's avatar
You wanna expand on that a bit?
troublemaker 4 years ago
DynamiteWhyte's avatar
I'mma guess he doesn't own it.
DynamiteWhyte 4 years ago
Anonymous user's avatar
I do own it mores the fool me! Nothing to add that hasn't already been put into text on amazons reviews of this appalling pile of dung. DRM Always online Servers that don't always work Waiting ages to get on a server Getting on the server, but not the one your "city" is saved on Cities not big enough Etc etc. I don't actually feel like I've bought anything, more I'm renting time on EAs crappy servers, I like to be able to play when I want to play, not on the off chance I can get online ok. Go and check out some reviews on amazon.co.uk, IMO this is a step backwards big time.
Steven 4 years ago
Johno Muller's avatar
Yes, because review bombing is the way forward. Let's all just use Metacritic scores to base our game purchases on while we're at it
Johno Muller 4 years ago
Anonymous user's avatar
@Steven Which server(s) were you trying to join? I have only had to wait once on the game, and that was on Sunday. They aren't as bad as they were on the US launch, and those 1 star reviews on Amazon and Metacritic are just stupid. They don't take into consideration the fact the game is great, once you get past the (not as bad anymore) server issues. The "reviews" on Metacritic and Amazon aren't reviews. They are people mad about one aspect. Granted, that one aspect has a major role in the game, but you cannot make a "review" or rate a game based solely on that aspect. Plus, I have no doubt some of those reviews are from people who never even purchased the game, and are jumping on the bandwagon. Everyone who purchased the game knew full well a constant connection was required, and there were plenty of warnings that the servers would be overwhelmed on launch. Even someone with a bit of common sense would've told you they would crash. Sure, the servers should've been stable, but people shouldn't moan about what was inevitable.
Thomas 4 years ago
Joe2120's avatar
Joe2120 4 years ago
Not played in a while. Must get back to this.

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