If you need an example of how DRM doesn’t work and ends up affecting legitimately paying consumers, then you don’t have to look any further, as SimCity has got it covered for you.
In a way, we all saw this coming after what happened to Diablo 3. These are all major franchises and it’s likely that there will be millions of people playing the game at launch, and when you force them to join a server, which has its limits, things may not go too well then.
SimCity is an addictive game with a lot of flaws. However, my philosophy has always been to be appreciative towards games that have that fun factor and manage to keep people engaged.
Every one of us has that ability to build things (well most of us anyway), and people who have played the previous SimCity games would know what they are getting here. For starters, I’d like to warn these veteran players than the city size in this latest game is not even comparable to what you can do in SimCity 4.
So how can SimCity be termed as a proper sequel then? Well, the game emphasises a lot of networking and the ability of different cities to interact with each other and share resources. This cooperation makes sure that if a city is deficit in certain resources they can get that by trading and run the city optimally. It also allows cities to make some money by selling their extra resources.
That also means players need to be playing well and actually building and developing their city, and trying to make as much money as they can. Because if one City goes down, it will hurt your city as well. But you can choose not to be dependent on them and live with your own resources but that’s going to be difficult if you have a population of more than 200,000.
When you start the game, however, there will be a nifty little tutorial explaining you how to play the game and attend to your citizens’ requests. You’ll be the mayor and have to make proper decisions for a great city. The game doesn’t look that great but there’s a lot of detail in some buildings especially after you zoom in. Whenever you click on a building you can see specific sound effects for them which is a nice touch.
The only downside to this is the land mass available to you is not as big as the one in SimCity 4 so you can’t make your city the jack of all trades. The land you pick has some advantages and you need to build your city properly to utilize those advantages well. The land could be rich in ore deposits or oil deposits so you can create factories to harvest them and also export to make a decent amount of money.
There’s budgeting in the game and whatever you do will cost money per hour. Increasing productivity by creating housing zones, industrial zones and commercial zones will bring in money and that will be substracted by the burn rate of creating new buildings and maintaining them. So if you end up with positive income you can make more money as time goes on, but that’s not going to be easy as you will need to expand the city and will most likely end up with negative income.
You are given a specific budget to start a city, say 100,000, to create roads, houses, shops, factories, hospitals, police stations, parks, garbage treatment centres and more. The more buildings you create, the more your money will decrease and you need to do something about it, because if your run out of it you will have to abandon the city.
Careful planning is a must here and if you are new to the game and the franchise as a whole, it’s recommended that you learn what each option does and how to build a small city while maintaining a positive income. The roads you build are going to be very vital too as they are going to be something that will be vital in sending people out of our city and also bringing more people. The type of roads you have will also determine the type of buildings that you will get in the game.
The houses, shops, and factories upgrade on their own and if you have a medium density road, you can expect to see tall building as you spend some time with the game. The pathfinding is currently broken as there could be massive traffic jams if have a complicated road structure and many people have mentioned that you need to build a zigzag road structure to ensure there’s few traffic jams. This is a design failure and currently hampers the game.
There’s a lot of fun to be had with SimCity though. The entire building process early on and seeing your creation thrive and ask for more space is heartwarming. Seeing them in trouble tends to make you aggressive in trying to fix the situation and make them happy. I guess this is the core of all SimCity games and what makes it a winning formula.
I didn’t really have any issues logging in to the EA servers because the European servers when they went live were pretty decent. I still think the online cooperation thing isn’t a big deal and Maxis should have added an offline mode for the game. I’m not comfortable having to say online all the time just to pay this game and I don’t see the benefits of the online system implemented here.
It kind of makes me want to review it as an online game but when you consider the front cover says SimCity not SimCity online, this can be a deceptive thing for a lot of players especially if the servers don’t allow them to play.
The main challenge of the game is trying to maintain a city after it has blown up with 200,000 population with proper trading and management practices. It will be difficult but you will probably have enough of the game by that point, but it’s encouraging to see a prosperous city that you built from scratch. So what to do next, then? Nothing. Build another city maybe?
SimCity is a flawed game that really needed an offline mode. There’s no ability to undo a change if you mess up, and the saving system isn’t that great either. The game in its present form can create a lot of annoyances for the player, and in a way it kind of negates the fun factor of building a city.
There’s a lot of things that needs to be fixed by Maxis and these are things that are completely unrelated to the game, and once that’s done, a consistent gameplay experience can be had.
This game was reviewed on the PC.