When SimCity was “rebooted” in 2013, it had major launch issues that gave Maxis and EA a bit of a black eye. However, a year and a half later, after making some major corrections, the new SimCity might now finally be a smart and extremely fun purchase.
SimCity (2013) is a city creation simulation game developed by Maxis and published by Electronic Arts. It is considered to be an MMO (massively multiplayer online game) because it has a large work-together online component of city building, which is a new game play aspect for the franchise. It was originally released in March of 2013 for Windows and eventually for Mac as well. Though there was a decade between the release of SimCity 4 and this newest version, there were a lot of very critical reviews when it first came out. Despite having a lot of cool new elements, the online multiplayer component was panned because it forced players to be “always online” and had a lot of bugs and connectivity issues. It got so bad that it pretty much rendered the game as unplayable because players could not connect to the online servers and therefore could not play the game. Eventually, these issues were fixed, including a desperately needed offline single player mode. On November 14, EA released SimCity: The Complete Edition, which includes the base game, all of the city sets, and the expansion pack, Cities of Tomorrow. People who passed up game because of the original bad reviews might want to give the game a chance now that there have been some updates.
For the purposes of this review, only the single player mode will be focused on, since this was one of the game play elements that turned people off from the game initially. However, for those who are interested in online game play, the multiplayer functionality has been much improved from when the game was originally launched.
The new SimCity is very different from previous SimCity games. Players who are used to older versions may be very surprised to see how much the game has changed. The game focuses more on regions and collaborations than having players try to build large utopian megacities. In fact, if a player tries to build a megacity without any outside help from other cities in the region (either from other players online or another city that the player controls), it can get very difficult very quickly. The individual cities are not that large, but working as a region, there’s actually a lot to it. Unlike previous SimCity games, each cities absolutely must specialize in something, instead of trying to have it all. A city can specialize in anything from mining to tourism to technology, which is very different from previous SimCity games.
Cities are smaller in the new SimCity, which forces the player to specialize in an industry.
The game engine has changed a lot from previous SimCity games. It focuses on the happiness of individual Sim people that players can actually see on the screen, instead of hypothetical ones that are delineated by graphical arrows on screen. If there is a fire, it can actually be seen in the city, and players can see fire trucks going to it and responding to it. Everything affects everything else. Traffic issues in a city can mess with education, fire, and crime because the services and citizens can’t get to where they need to be. If there is not a good education program, it will affect crime in the city and whether or not the people will want to recycle or not. A player must also worry about ground pollution and running out of water and resources, which is quite different from previous versions. One must play slowly and strategically in order to be successful. Even the design of the roads and the placement of utilities and services can affect how things go in the city.
Regions are very important, whether a person is playing single or multiplayer.
The Cities of Tomorrow expansion that comes with the Complete Edition adds a futuristic element to the game play. Citizens can live in massive towers, travel on monorail-type systems, and visit cool-looking parks. It’s not a bad expansion, and it’s value really shines when it comes with the base game and other city sets in the Complete Edition.
Obviously, the graphics are a big step up from previous SimCity games. The game looks pretty slick, and it’s cool to be able to see the individual people in the city. For this review, the game was played on a laptop with an integrated graphics card only, so everything was unfortunately set on low. Despite this, it’s been very enjoyable and very pretty to play.
Just like with any SimCity game, the new one is quite addicting. It’s one of those games that a person can get lost in for days and weeks. The learning curve was, unfortunately, very steep, especially for players who have played older versions of the game and expect the game to play a certain way. It can take many practice cities before it really clicks with how the game should be played. Maxis could have done a much better job with tutorials and their game manual as well. Sometimes Google and YouTube ended up being the best bet to figure out how the game mechanics actually worked. Overall, it was still quite enjoyable and was a blast to play. Obviously, when the game first came out, many people were not having a lot of fun, considering they could barely play the game. However, with the bugs fixed and single player mode in operation, this game has improved quite a bit.
Overall, this game is a much safer purchase now that the bugs are corrected and connectivity issues are fixed. Plus, the game is quite a bit cheaper now than when it was previously released. For those people who decided not to get this SimCity because of the horror stories, this might be the time to get it. The game play is a bit different from previous SimCity games, but it is a change that–for the most part-is for the better.