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Rating: Not Rated

A More Goal-Based SimCity

Talraen's Review of SimCity (Video Games)

After SimCity 4, Maxis stopped making SimCity games because they felt there was nowhere left to go. 8 years later, they have indeed found a new place to go, and it is quite fun - and a little bit different than its predecessors.

SimCity is centrally about roads, a change in thinking which makes the game very approachable. You don't need to worry about pipes or power lines, because everything just uses roads. Even zone density is determined by roads (and interestingly, zones are now free). The game simulates every pedestrian and vehicle, meaning that gridlock is a very serious problem. Road design is important, although I do have to complain that there don't seem to be any truly great mass transit options. Subways would be nice, although I suppose the San Fransisco-style trolleys serve the same approximate purpose (but are graphically more interesting).

The most intriguing addition to the game is the resource system. You can mine coal and ore or pump oil, then use it for power or just sell it to the global market. Sell enough, and you can refine it into much more profitable materials, in a sequence that will eventually yield you high tech electronics that sell for a huge profit. You can also play the markets directly, even if your chosen city has no resources or you just decided not to extract them. The resource system feels much more like a game than SimCity typically does. The only real issue with trading resources is that your trades are not included in your income display, so a resource-based economy can be hard to judge without digging in a bit.

The resource system requires you to plan ahead, and this is exacerbated by the very small city sizes. Region play, with up to 16 connected cities, is very important here, much more so than in SimCity 4. No single city can do everything, and you will almost certainly feel cramped before too long. However, after you have some experience, it makes planning and executing a city design that much more rewarding. Playing in a region with a friend who is actually playing at the same time is also helpful, because by yourself you need to constantly switch cities to update the relations between them.

SimCity is still a SimCity game, but it feels much more focused and goal-oriented than ever before. The complexity is still here, but the game is more forgiving than its predecessors. Unlocking new tech will generally unlock it for the whole region, and there are some concessions to gameplay, such as bulldozing being free. Given that you can't reload a city to correct your mistakes, this sort of thing is necessary. SimCity doesn't try quite as hard as SimCity 4 to be totally realistic, but it's not far off, especially when you consider that literally everything that is happening on-screen is exactly what is happening in your city. I'm having a lot of fun with it, though I admit I can't wait for an expansion to add a few niceties like larger cities, more transportation options, and perhaps a better inter-city trading interface.

Score: B+

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