Genre: Strategy Developer: Maxis Games Publisher: EA Classification: G Release Date: 7th Mar 2013 Platforms:
Average of 15 Ratings
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Everyone starts playing SimCity like they might do The Sims - with malevolence in mind. They think they will create a city full of pollution, full of crime, full of pain - they think they'll make the worst city ever. I know I thought this initially, but it all went out the window the moment my first sims moved in.
This is because SimCity: the reboot is a game about Social Engineering, not Civil Engineering - - so straight up it might be a disappointment to some people. For those not familiar with earlier games in the series, building a city first meant making sure the terrain was to your specifications - be it flat, hilly, filled with water or whatever. Then you'd lay critical infrastructure like roads and power and water, create some residential, commercial and industrial (RCI) zones and then boom - you're in the Mayorin' business.
The new SimCity isn't like that. Instead it's all tied to the roads. Terraforming is done for you when you cut roads through mountains or across rivers. Power and Water infrastructure follows road networks (as does sewerage) too, so in this SimCity what you need to do is plop (that's the term the game uses) down some roads, a power station, a water tower and paint on some RCI zones and boom - you're in the Mayorin' business.
And then things get crazy.
Social Engineering is about shaping your city through economic and social influences. If you want your Residential areas to be high income, place them away from your power plant, your industrial areas, your sewerage treatment facility, your garbage dump. You'll put it near a school, or commercial zones, or a beach. If you want to bump up a medium wealth residential area on the sly you'll throw in some beautiful parks, give them some bus stops or other public transport systems and make sure they have access to health care.
Schools are important, because the higher overall education level of your city the less crime there will be. At the same time though, the more educated your citizens become the more likely they are to care about things like the environment and the rehabilitation of criminals.
Eventually you realise you actively want to keep your citizens a little bit stupid to save buying an expensive and ultimately underwhelming Recycling Centre. Not even supervillains like Dr Doom deliberately make their citizens stupider.
This might all seem simple in writing, but as a player it takes time to get a grip on a lot of the smaller things. Things like the size of your city blocks - initially you might be inclined to make them small, because smaller blocks means less wasted space in the middle. As you go through the game it will become obvious that you need that space in the middle for your houses to become apartment blocks and high rises - you'll never get your New York City skyline without adequate space for the buildings.
Or you might try to cut down on pollution by getting rid of all your Industrial zones - not realising that with an educated enough populace your city will naturally evolve into low-emission high-tech computer industry.
Superficially these things make SimCity seem like a puzzle-solving game - but it's really a deep management sim occasionally akin to spinning plates on sticks. When you're managing your finite source of water, your ever growing energy needs, an epic homeless problem and a city-wide epidemic of broken arms - all while trying to implement the next phase in your city's growth (casinos) - it can be tough to deal with. Luckily your mayoral advisor is constantly available to tell you if there's one thing in particular your city can't stand - and if you stay ever vigilant while sweeping around your city your citizens themselves should tell you too.
The thing is, it can't last forever. It won't last forever. Water really does appear to be a finite resource, and eventually you'll need to get it from somewhere else. So instead, you're going to need another city - one with enough water for itself and you. And hell, while you're there maybe they could drill for oil and ore to get some of those resources your industry so badly needs. Maybe they could house some of those low-wealth workers, and you could have them commute via train each day! Maybe they could have no commercial properties at all, forcing them to buy stuff from your main town.
Suddenly, three thoughts come to mind. The first - aren't both cities your explicit responsibility, and so do you really have a 'main' town anymore? The second - are you deliberately creating an over-polluted waste area where people will have to live? And lastly - should you maybe start from scratch, so you can build both of these cities properly?
When you realise just how many cities you should have going at once to maximise your efficiency, you also realise that multiplayer isn't just some half-thought out idea shoe-horned into the game to justify the Always-Online requirement of the game. Playing an entire region on your own is damn tiring - and playing with mates is just more fun. Especially when you read over the newswire that their city has zombies attacking moments after they asked you for some cash to stave off impending bankruptcy.
That said, when you load up the game and you're greeted with a notice telling you you're not connected to the SimCity servers, or you get told while playing that you've been disconnected - that's a crappy experience. The game's got some killer bugs too - I was lucky enough to skip the tutorial the first time I started up, but it still asks me to complete it occasionally (and then doesn't let me complete it). That and the servers get overwhelmed occasionally, rendering me unable to claim a new city. These things should go away eventually - and they can be fixed pretty easily - but they still exist.
The eight regions you get with the game seem restrictive, even if you are technically capable of making at least 76 cities - probably because your city conforms to the environment and you can't change this. Earlier I extolled the game's ability to force the player to commit to social - not civil - engineering, but to be honest I don't want to build a city on a series of three islands just for 'the challenge'. I'm sure perching half of your town atop a gorgeous plateau is great for property values but it'd be much more efficient if I was building on a flat piece of land. When playing Civilization I don't settle cities in the middle of a desert for kicks, so why would I deliberately hamstring myself in SimCity?
SimCity has some launch issues, and while I wholeheartedly believe that - thanks to the complex nature of city management and the global resources market - Always-Online is a necessity, I also believe this was a problem Maxis created for themselves by engineering the game this way. Lucky for them, the game has depth and oodles of replayability.
SimCity made me connect with the Sims in my world more than any Sims game ever could - and then it made me wilfully hurt them to further my own agenda. It simultaneously made me uncomfortable with my actions and impelled to win at the same time. That's an odd feeling to get out of a game where you can deliberately unleash a giant fire breathing lizard on an unsuspecting populace.
Water is a finite resource and it disappears way too quickly. I've nearly drained out all of the water from my entire region. My cites are in a constant state of traffic gridlock, mostly from people coming in by car. I have fully covered public transport but cars still clog the roads. I was hoping Glassbox would solve the traffic issues that plagued SimCity 4, but this isn't the case.
The AI has been proven to be stupid, and while the drilling for oil, mining coal/ore is a nice addition to the game, the maps are far too small to make proper use of them as their pollution will affect the rest of your city. For a multiplayer game, the replay value at the moment is really small as any successful city will quickly become traffic locked. Any non-successful city will simply stop after all the money is gone and you have to feed it money from other cities in the region.
Trying to find/join a suitable region is a rightful pain. After weeks I am still being suggested the same old regions, and trying to search I just get list upon list upon list of full games. It's a stupid system.
I bought the game because I had fun in the 1-hour beta, but that's about as fun as it gets. After the first hour your city will slowly go downhill. For the current asking price of SimCity it really isn't worth it. By the time the price has dropped to $10, I suspect there will be nobody left on multiplayer or players will only log on sporadically so any regional support will be near pointless.
tl;dr - Don't buy this game, it's not even finished and I don't know how they spent so much time developing a game that has such little/restricted content.
With everything settling down now that more servers have been added to handle the load of players that SimCity got it's running great (for the most part). There are still a few glitches and yes at times you have an issue with logging on or loading a game, but come on!, it's a damn popular game! Maxis and EA are working hard to get things sorted and it seems like they are heading in the right direction. Maybe I just got lucky over the weekend after the release, but I managed to rack up in excess of 40hrs game time. Love it! And now that things are settling down I would recommend to buy SimCity, even with it's always online DRM.
Been able to play it since the launch day, and it's tonnes of fun.
Server issues seem to be reducing. Still a pain to get on oceanic 1 during peak hours, but meh. I don't play during peak hours.
Gameplay is pretty straight forward. Took me a while to figure out how to do some things (got booted when I first tried to do the tutorial, so I never got to do it, but meh. More fun not having it spoon fed to you)
Seems to be even better with a group of people. I'm on a map with 3 other people, we each get 3-4~ cities each, and we've been making one major city (Or in most cases, one pretty average starter city), one industrial city (or in my case, the major city. So the bad city is becoming the industrial city. What's this? Voted worst mayor constantly? The fires will burn those who oppose me) and one city for water, or power. ezpz.
But yeah, if you don't want to deal with the issues of connecting to oceanic 1, join 2, or euro east 3, it'll solve all your problems. I noticed a minimal amount of lag (as you'd expect) playing on euro east 3.
If you want to play it, be smart, and you'll be fine.
1- Wait 30 minuts to join in one server
2- Lost all your save games after play.
3- Servers busy or down all the time
4- Lost of features in a desperate attempt to solve the lack of infrastructure servers.
5- No feedback from EA.
6- Banned account if you ask for refund
How can you review a game you can't even play, the Oceanic Servers are dead in the water
Haven't been up for hours. Constant Servers unavailable. Oh but they have patched it.
I got to play for just long enough to boot up the tutorial and add a road and click on the town hall again and BAM crashed to desktop and then the servers were unavailable again despite the server loging saying otherwise.
Expected as much but woulda been nice to be proven wrong for once.
In the beta the game seemed fine and like Simcity 4 with new graphics and some easier ways to manage things, tho limited since most stuff was locked and the map was way too small. Great potential but if people can't even connect to play it's a big fail already