Yes, we've all been waiting for SimCity, haven't we? And of course, most of us bought into the hype and believed the newest SimCity would be the best to date. And after such a disastrous launch, many were left scratching their heads at a loss for words. Well, if that was you, I suppose you can find some solace in the fact you were one of many, thousands, in fact. Is SimCity really worth it, is it really? Here's my take. I wanted to wait a while and try to review the game AS IT IS at this very moment. As always, if you're thinking about it, here's a link to Amazon. But for the rest of you, my fellow mayors, let's talk some SimCity.
SimCity Trailer: Youtube vid by GameNewsOfficial
First off, let's talk about some of the things SimCity has going for it. If you have the hardware that can support it, this game can be absolutely gorgeous, possibly the best city-planner game I've ever played. Just about anyone who's reviewed this game can wax on and on about the little details that just make you smile. Well, for my part, I mostly agree. The buildings, whether small homes or towering high-rises look spectacular. The city lights at night coming from the cars and the homes and businesses give the cities an organic look. And the aesthetic options such as warm, cool, or the Sin City look which is one of my personal favorites with black, white, and red, nearly throbbing out at you, etc, breathe life into the look and feel of the city. Sometimes you'll just pan-out a bit around dawn or dusk to snap a few photos. And, as promised, your city will have a unique look (well, a little) depending on how you specialize it. But more on that soon.
Let's talk modules. Some don't like it, but I can say I personally am a fan of the module system. My only complaint about them is that some just take up so much space when really you're cramming as much as you can in not a lot of space. The squares you play in in SimCity are tin compared to Sim City 3000 and Sim City 4. I'll give you a quick example. You're city is doing pretty well and your population is increasing by leaps and bounds. Well, good on you, kudos all around. But let's say you want some high tech industry. Well, you're gonna need to build up to it. As opposed to previous games, instead of spamming a school every five blocks, you can build one or two and add classroom modules to increase the number of students per school. If crime is a problem you can plop down more police cruisers or helicopters. of course, these are just a couple examples. Most of what you can build yourself is up gradable in some way shape or form. And all of it is tailored towards helping your specialize your city.
All Roads Lead to SimCity
Roads. Curvy roads, boxy square and rectangle roads, roundabouts, and so on. Roads are huge in the new SimCity, and not just because they can make your city look like a city and not a bland old grid. Its nice to be able to curve roads where and when you want (in most cases) and you can create some truly unique designs. Now, like so many of the good aspects of SimCity (get used to it now, this review is chalk full of em), the roads, while fun make, can be buggy. Sometimes the game just doesn't know what you're trying to do even when it seems what you're doing is straight and to the point. Check out a few youtube vids and you'll see what I mean. You'll hear a lot of, "Not sure why that's not working..." And yes, in some cases there is a particular way to lay out certain roads, but in many cases the game just can't figure it out. Bummer.
Specialization in SimCity
Specializations. Okay, this is another example of something that is both good and bad about the game. Specializing your city, for example an education city, an electric city, mining, casino, and so on, can be fun and gives the game some focus as compared to previous instalments. Which is all well and good and would have been better if the space your working with wasn't so darn small. And the thing is, most of the buildings and services you can build can be upgraded with modules, many of which take up tons of space. It's nearly impossible to fully upgrade a city with every single service full upgrades on top of whatever specializations you're focusing on. The idea behind this is trying to get players to interact and help each other out.
For example, your city doesn't have a fire station so I send my trucks your way when a building is on fire. In return, you send a few policemen to help me catch a crook. On top of that supplying other players with resources and vice versa can work, but the thing is the other players must be cooperative. Some players just want to keep to themselves when playing online. One guy went low-tech industrial and all his pollution came my way, made my sims sick, people were dying, land values going down (I think), but in general my city wasn't sitting happy. So I built additional schools and tried to get the guy to place some bus stops in his city so his kiddos could get an education in my city. He refused, never even responded. And sometimes that's just what happens. Now, you could play on your own with no interference from other players, but after a while the juggling act can get a little tedious and in some cases even annoying.
Making those Simoleons
Now, SimCity is a very easy game. One of the biggest reasons is that it's just so easy to make money. Some are just fine with that. But if you're like me, a little challenge is more than welcome. In this SimCity you can easily make millions in what will seem like no time at all. Of course, there's dozens of ways of going about this, but my preferred method is selling processors and t.v.'s etc. If done right, money will never be a problem. And if money is never a problem, you can buy everything you'll ever need for your city. Heck, sometimes I don't go for electronics and such for the added challenge... if it can even be called that.
Making Money in SimCity: Youtube vid by theAwfulGamerHD
(Okay, guys, above is a vid I found. This is how I like to make millions in SimCity and I think this guy explains the process very well. Hope he can help, I'm just the messenger :) )
And of course, like any good SimCity game, the addicting factor is in the customization and upgrades. As with specialization, your city hall can build departments such as the department of education and finance, safety, utilities, and that in turn will help you specialize along with the other prerequisite factors. For example, if you want to become an oil tycoon, first, you must have a few industrial buildings. If you want to build a university, you'll need to be educating those sims in their grade schools, high schools, and community colleges for a while.
Alright, now for some more on the bugs. Online connection is... better, certainly, than the first two weeks of launch. Still, sometimes there are a few hiccups. This game must be played online. Now, make any argument you want, say it's really about the social experiment, protection from pirating, blah, blah, I don't care other than it can be a major inconvenience for people. Slow, laggy connections, servers going down, poor souls outright LOSING their cities they'be been working on for days. It can be traumatic. I've lost three cities, one of which was my absolute favorite. Making millions and somehow managing to be entirely self-sufficient (mostly). My baby, in other words. Now, gone forever. RIP. Now, to be fair (can't believe I'm going on like it needs to be justified...) this doesn't happen as much as it did before. But it still happens, and just once is one too many in my opinion.
Here's another example of something that happened to me. The maps, lots, squares, whatever you want to call em are small. Most people know that by now. And like many people, I thought I'd try sticking one poor unfortunate city to provide the main services to all the others in exchange for money ie power, water, sewage, etc. So I had this one city pretty much taking the brunt of the needs of three other cities I was building. It had a nuclear power plant for power, sewage treatment plants, garbage disposal, you get the idea. Anything the other cities needed but I didn't want to take up space in the city borders, were provided completely by this one city. But, the day of reckoning came when I went into said city to plop a couple more stacks to my nuclear power plant, and some upgrades to my water pumping stations. Then I LOST THE CITY. Just like that, the city was gone, couldn't even load it back up, and basically had to scramble to provide the necessities for my other three cities. That SUCKED. And it still happens on occasion.
For the Casual Gamer?
One thing I should mention is that this game has a surprisingly high learning curve. Despite the clean interface and visual data and statistics, I think for many players, they'll try to do or build something and not really understand why they can't. In most cases, the game outright spells it out for you, in others... not so much. All I can say is, save yourself some time, and READ before you try something new. I can't tell you how many youtubers out there can't understand why the game won't let them do something when in most cases the answer is staring them right in the face. The only thing the game is not doing in such cases is saying "RIGHT HERE! READ ME!!! you know what? Fine. Go ahead and rant and rave for ten minutes, see if I care." Trial and error, in other words. Best way to learn is to make a mistake. That's cool, but sometimes it can feel like some of the trial and error is unnecessary and there's definitely some grief that could have been avoided for many players.
Let Them Eat Cake
Citizen requests had potential, but in most cases it's a joke. Citizen requests serve to help guide the player and alert him or her to the needs of the city. You might get a request to upgrade the clinic, or the police station. But sometimes you get the same requests (often complaints) even if you're addressing the problem. If nothing else, it's a good laugh.
Another complaint I have is that it seems to me, that for all the options SimCity gives to the player, there seems to be something that is taken away. one of the most noticeable is that maps aren't randomly generated and you can't alter them before the game starts, the maps are fixed. Also, there's no terraforming, no raising or lowering the ground, no adding lakes or ponds. You can spam a bunch of trees, but that's about it.
Wow, okay, I'll wrap things up here. This review is a bit long, even for me. As I said, I wanted to wait a bit to review this game with the understanding that most of the bugs will be taken care of. The good: The module system is fun and well implemented in the game. The visual details are some of the best I've seen in a city-planner, perhaps even the best. Playing with other players CAN BE fun and rewarding, provided everyone is playing nice. The user interface is, for the most part, easy to use and understand. And as always, there's always the "just one more hour..." addiction. The bad? Oh, boy. Bugs, bugs, bugs, bugs.... and a few more bugs. Heck, I've even seen cars driving through buildings along a straight road. Losing cities makes you wonder why you even bother. Even now, some have trouble with servers. Small maps that almost force you to create other cities or rely on other players. I could go on, but let's just call it a day. At launch, SimCity would have received a 3 out of 10. Ouch. Haven't given a score close to that since... perhaps my Steel Battaltion review. As SimCity is NOW, I give it a 6 out of 10