Maxis’ SimCity makes a return to the PC, five years after the release of SimCity Societies and ten years since the last Maxis developed SimCity game, SimCity 4. Now let’s take a look at the new SimCity.
Overall SimCity was a mixed bag for me. Growing up I enjoyed Maxis’ simulation game series, The Sims and SimCity, and I was very much looking forward to playing this game, but after playing for about 18 hours, my enthusiasm was a bit hampered. I don’t mean to say SimCity was terrible, but it felt average, it wasn’t overly fun to play but it wasn’t boring either. Here are some reasons why I didn’t enjoy SimCity.
One of worst parts of SimCity is the forced always online play. I found this took a good bit of enjoyment from the game. The reason it took enjoyment away was because it took a predominantly single-player game and turned it into a multiplayer game. Since it became an online multiplayer game, everything around the game was suited to this, and as such I found myself a bit handicapped playing the game like it was a singleplayer game. The forced always online play didn’t work that well at launch with server issues not allowing some people to play, this issue led to EA offering free games to those who bought SimCity.
Since SimCity is multiplayer focused one of its main features was multiple city building areas in regions of various sizes. This is another addition that I really didn’t enjoy. The building areas for each region are small, and I found myself struggling to balance, residential zones with commercial and industrial zones. The restriction in size made it difficult to use all three zones effectively, which seemed intentional by Maxis as the game really did you want you to work with other players. I found myself having to build more cities just to accommodate other cities, which sounds fun in a multiplayer level with friends working together to build great cities, but from a singleplayer perspective being forced to build multiple cities was terrible. To add to this, when you were in one of your cities, time stops for all your other cities so you can’t have one highly profitable city which can amass money as you build another city.
What I did like about the multi-area play in SimCity was the fact that certain buildings affect the entire region. For example: unlocks from the various departments make the unlocked content available to all areas in the region. Another area of the multi-area play I like is specialising your cities in your area. For example: having one city dedicated to electronics and other dedicated to trading supplies. These two features obviously come from the fact that SimCity was a multiplayer focused game, but for those who play SimCity as a singleplayer game it is a good addition since it means you can trade resources with your various cities easily. Speaking of trading, you can help out other cities by sending resources such as garbage trucks, emergency services etc.
Now let’s look at the city building part of the game. Overall building is really fun; the game makes you feel like you are a mayor as you have many things to control from water to sewerage. When building your city I recommend using your data maps which give you a boat load of information which includes: pollution levels, where resources like oil and coal are situated etc. There is nothing worse than building up and then realizing you placed a residential zone on top of a huge oil deposit. I found cities do grow quiet quickly and as such it is important to keep an eye on your worker count to make sure you have a good worker to employment ratio. Needless to say I only found this little feature after I had about 3,000 unemployed workers and no room to build more places of employment.
While building and managing your cities is fun, there is one constant annoyance, the AI. I found it difficult to believe how bad it was. On streets which have multiple entry points, the AI would only use one entry point and as result make traffic slow to a crawl. You can supposedly reduce this issue with public transport, but all it resulted in was the people in my city complaining about how poor the public transport was. Just before I started writing this review I decided to build a streetcar system which in theory would be a good idea, but to do so I would have to destroy existing roads and in turn the buildings beside the roads. In the end I did it but my profits tumbled as I waited for my skyscrapers or apartments to be rebuilt.
The main parts of the game that I enjoyed were the fact you could do a sandbox mode which allowed you to freely make your city with little restrictions, and monster attacks and other events did add some much needed life to the game. Talking about events, they don’t happen too often which is nice because it would be a bit of a pain to have constant city hurting events.
Graphically SimCity is very nice with Maxis’ new engine, GlassBox. The game will run on most machines, with my 6 year old or so mid-range PC being able to handle the games medium settings no problem.
Before wrapping up the review there is on last thing I want to address, the day one extra content/DLC for the game. At present there are 4 pieces of DLC: German City Set, French City Set, British City Set and SimCity Heroes and Villains Set. My review copy included one piece of DLC, SimCity Heroes and Villains Set. This DLC is a bit gimmicky adding new hero and villain buildings for you. These building will have both the hero, MaxisMan fight against the villain, Dr. Vu. You can choose to only have one, but honestly want fun is a hero without a villain or a villain without a hero to fight. The City sets are a bit of another story from looking at their description. Each set offers three features: a new landmark, an iconic building and the ability to transform the look of your city. On the face of things the sets seem fine, but the new buildings could offer people help in the game. For example the British City Set unlocks double-decker buses which are incredibly handy because it has a greater capacity than regular buses and as such can help you with transport, which as I said earlier can be an issue. The cost of the City Set DLC is €9.99 each, while the Heroes and Villains set is only available for Limited Edition and Digital Deluxe versions of SimCity.
SimCity isn’t a bad game. I enjoyed the game, but forced online play, multiplayer, somewhat poor AI and the cost of the DLC did somewhat turn me away from the game.
Unless you are a big fan of Maxis’ previous games, I wouldn’t recommend picking up this game.
Release date: out now
Website: SimCity official website