SimCity (PC) Review
SimCity has had a little bit of a rough time getting started with server problems and some general bad press about its ‘always on’ status. The game has stabilized since its launch last month, but is all well in EA and Maxis’ SimUniverse?
Starting any new city is bound to be a complicated task and in SimCity it’s no different.
Building roads of varying capacity leads to allocating the land next to it for commercial, residential or industrial purposes. If the roads are cheap, small and narrow then only low density building will be permitted but for areas where more money has been spent on infrastructure the high density more profitable building will arrive.
To keep the Sims happy and the city livable, building and maintaining all the usual necessities from waste management, police, fire and power plants are needed. But remember, that nuclear power plant providing clean energy may seem temping now, but when the meltdown occurs and a permanent contaminated region remains you may have buyers remorse. By lowering land values you can’t help but think the air pollution of the other options may have been worth it.
This is where the multiplayer community aspect of SimCity pays off. Starting a new city isn’t cheap, building high quality roads and allocating land breaks the bank in seconds. So the only options to build the basic necessities are to speed up time to cheetah speed for tax income, buy three $100,000 bonds and have to pay them back or rely on your neighbors. When other online players are on the same map in the same small region it’s possible to buy power, waste management and water all from the start at one low rate.
No power plants needed, but the lights stay on at a small fee. The neighbors also provide police, ambulance and fire support to boost your own cities forces. This also works the other way, if crime becomes rampant in a neighboring city the criminals, especially arsonists will migrate to the quiet lands of a new city and burn the players little town to the ground.
Once the city is up and running it’s really just a question of upgrading capacities for needed services and investing in newer more efficient technologies. Turning an average city into one looking towards the future. This is where the regional build, the arcology comes in. All the gamers in a specific region who are playing together allocate spare resources towards a large structure. It will take time, a lot of time, but for those looking for an objective to complete in order to claim victory this is for you.
Building a working city is a time consuming business. Those looking for a quick in and out game will not find it with SimCity. Setting up a basic city will easily take three to four hours and to complete the regional objective depending on the other players will take a week in real time. The social aspect of SimCity is a mixed blessing, now the server issues have passed and everything’s working it seems great, but as those fellow gamers begin to abandon their cities and move on to something new it could be one player filling the requirements of four. When this happens, and it will, the Sandbox mode included is a welcome addition.
For a city simulation the graphics in SimCity are top notch. Granted there are some issues, at close range action is slightly blurred and everything looks just a little off but for a city sim there really isn’t anything better out there. You won’t find Crysis or Battlefield 3 graphics details here but it’s the best of its type.
The audio in SimCity is empty and repetitive. The music is forgettable white noise and the only points where it gets the players interest is when there’s a fire engine or police car doing the rounds. Perhaps the aim was not to have objectionable music running for hours on end in a single game session but having the option to play your own MP3s in the game would’ve been much appreciated.
DLC content is going to be the issue of contention for most buyers. SimCity, like Sims 3 is not running short of additional content to purchase. Even now there’s three city packs which add buildings and landmarks associated with the British, French and Germans. There are two tiny product placement DLCs also available. One from Nissan is an electric car charge station heavy on branding for the Nissan Leaf. Unsurprisingly available free to anyone who wants it. The other is the more substantial Attractions Set DLC filled with tourist attractions which is a US exclusive only redeemable only through a purchase of Oral B or Crest toothpaste.
Then there’s the Origin exclusive Digital Deluxe Edition which is more of a game changer. It includes in purchase the three city pack DLCs and a forth exclusive ‘Heroes and Villains’ pack. Heroes and Villains adds a hero and super villain to the city, each with their own bases and capability of clashing in the city destroying sections but providing an enjoyable momentary distraction. Of all the DLC packs Heroes and Villains is the one worth seeing.
SimCity does exactly what it says on the tin. It’s heavily detailed menus and options are perfect for city planners. The co-operative aspect can go either way but the only downside is the tiny box a players city can build in. It’s minuscule, borderline claustrophobic compared to prior SimCity games and a big negative. Overall a strong buy recommendation for most now, but depending on the community if that starts to go SimCity will end up on the shelf gathering dust at cheetah speed.