SimCity (2013) Review - www.impulsegamer.com -
Omerta
Reviewed by
Josh Wright
on
SimCity Review. To those whoíve never played a SimCity before, itís definitely worth your time. However keep in mind in 2003, Maxis made SimCity 4. It is still a great game, itís much cheaper, it runs on any old PC, and itís all about YOU.
Rating:
3.0

Gameplay 5.0
Graphics 9.0
Sound 6.0
Value 6.0
Distributor: EA Games
Review date:
March 2013
Rating:
G
Reviewer:
Josh Wright

6.0


SimCity 2013

SimCity 2013 reminds me of the Star Wars prequels. Unless youíre 12 years old, and coming to it with no preconceptions, youíll have happy memories of a classic series, and be looking forward to them flooding back with this latest release. However like The Phantom Menace, SimCity is flawed from the get-go. Like Attack of the Clones, itís clearly a deliberate choice and not just a one-time mistake, and like Revenge of Sith, itís possible to recapture the magic, as long as you decide to ignore everything thatís pissing you off.

In case you need to be told, SimCity has been with us since its first inception in 1989. There have been several releases since then, each being a solid improvement on the last. A classic sandbox strategy title, it involves you building a city literally from the ground up. You lay out streets, rail tracks, power and sewerage. You set out residential zones, commercial zones and industrial areas. Then you watch your city grow. There is no end to the tweaking and tinkering; as your cityís tax revenue trickle in, so do your options.

You can building almost anything, from airports to amusement parks, bridges, subways, universities, etc., the list goes on. You will have to provide public facilities for your town Ė things like hospitals, fire stations and police, and your town council will present you with a long list of options. You must decide how best to generate taxes to keep the coffers full. As is the dilemma of governments everywhere, too much tax and your citizens will go broke, pack up and leave. Too little tax and your town will go broke, and your citizens will pack up and leave. For example, options like starting a neighbourhood watch will reduce crime and please a percentage, but itíll cost money. Options like allowing legalised gambling will raise revenue, but also raise crime, and annoy your citizens. Ahhh, life at the top.

I could go on. You will manage traffic flows and power grids, the townís plumbing and the townís garbage. You can click on the man-in-the-street, and even ask him what he thinks your town is missing. Thatís the great appeal of the SimCity franchise, at its core is a classic just-one-more-turn mechanic thatís had players hooked for over twenty years. Thereís always just one more thing you have to do before you can switch off and finally go to bed. Graphically the game is brilliant, with a 3D rendered city thatís forever evolving. Watching tiny houses grow to mansions, derelict districts grow to skyscrapers is immensely satisfying, and zooming in and out from god-view to street level is a megalomaniacís dream come true. Indeed, the game is relentless and demands your attention. So, if the game is so good, what is the problem with this SimCity, circa 2013?

In a word Ė connectivity. Thereís far too much of it for all the wrong reasons.

The biggest controversy is the DRM. The game demands you be always connected to internet. It literally will not run unless you are. That pretty much means unless you own a desktop, or only use your laptop at home, the game is broken to you. EAís logic is twofold. The first being they reckon this is the best way to beat piracy. However this is fundamentally false, because as a long time gamer whoís seen pirates at work since the Commodore 64 days, there is no challenge wily Russians whoíve been snowed in for the winter will not accept. And if they can crack Windows 8, Adobe CS, and every other game under the sun, thereís no stopping them on this too. Hollywood has learned to accept it, and considering the games industry is ten times richer, and has been co-existing with piracy since the 80s, perhaps EA should just suck it up too.

The second reason for far more frustrating - the curse of multiplayer.

Multiplayer has its place in games. In every genre, the option of playing against friends or strangers can spice up the experience and give life long after the core gameplay fades. We all know what I mean; from World of Warcraft to Call of Duty, playing with friends can keep you coming back for years. However there are many games, like the latest Tomb Raider for example, where multiplayer is no big thing. We can take it or leave it, and just enjoy a great single player romp. The problem with SimCity is now you MUST take it. There is no single player option. You MUST rely on friends (or more likely strangers who donít give a damn) to succeed in the game, as the cities you create are inter-connected with other cities on the EA servers. You are limited to the size of your city, and where in the past editions you created sprawling, self-contained metropolises, now you just build smaller-sized towns that have to specialise in certain industries, so as to trade and swap resources. Itís all about co-existing with other players towns on the server.

Iím sure this concept gave a warm fuzzy feeling to the development team when they decided on it. Teaching players cyber-socialist principles and forcing us all to get along and work together. Unfortunately what they failed to realise is that the true fun of SimCity is its megalomania. And nothing makes a megalomaniac more angry than having to rely on other people to achieve his dreams of domination. As super-villains throughout time have cried, ĎIím surrounded by bumbling idiots!í Now, at last in SimCity you will understand their pain.

I must confess, Iíve always been more a Civilization player myself. I love my strategy, and Iíve sat up to many a wee-small hour in my youth playing the classics like Railroad Tycoon, Caesar, and SimCity. I ask myself if 2K Games had done to Civilization 5 what EA have done to SimCity, how angry would I be? The answer Ė Iíd be friggin furious.

To those whoíve never played a SimCity before, itís definitely worth your time. However keep in mind in 2003, Maxis made SimCity 4. It is still a great game, itís much cheaper, it runs on any old PC, and itís all about YOU. Maybe the Facebook-generation doesnít mind over-sharing, even when it comes to SimCity. But must even our power-fantasies be now diluted online? I say thee nay! To old-schoolers like me, the SimCity franchise will be always about the joys of self-proclaimed Godhood. Thatís why I should really thank EA for this editionĖ all its flaws mean Iíll be switching off much sooner. Iíll finally be able to get a good nightís sleep.  






 
 



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