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PC Reviews: Sim City 4


Sim City Screenshots


The Final Say!




Sim City 4reviewed by Andrew B
Review Date: 27 January 2003
Review Score: 9.2/10 
Distributor: EA
Developer: Maxis

"The grand father of city builders is finally back on the PC and after 15 years, it's still initially the same game but as always, Maxis still finds a way of improving an amazing formula."

I remember playing Sim City back in the days of yesteryear, I'm not sure whether I had a 4 colour or 16 colour graphics card on my old PC. Either way, it didn't really matter because Sim City was a highly addictive game that had you plan, build, manage and populate your city. The graphics were detailed and Sim City became one of the most addictive games around that spawned various incarnations on almost every computer and console format available at the time. 

If you don't know what Sim City is, than you have obviously been living with the Buddhist Monks of Tibet or think that the Phantom Menace is the first Star Wars movie to be ever made. For those initiated, Sim City in its purest form is a city building game where you take the role of Mayor and God and you must virtually build every aspect of the city, whether commercial, residential or industrial and basically create a utopia for your citizens. Unfortunately with cities, things can wrong and you must also deal with crime, picket strikes, both natural & unnatural disasters and a plethora of other problems that real cities must face. A game that starts off so simplistically actually becomes a very complex game that will not only have you immersed in this city of your construction but also have you addicted for hours on end. 

Unlike other reviews, the first thing that must be mentioned about Sim City 4 is the new graphic engine that actually now uses a real 3D engine and everything in the game is created from polygons. The detail on the city is amazing and you virtually see just about everything in the city and there is now a new feature in the game lets you zoom right into the action so you can take a new voyeuristic approach and spy on your favourite sim people. The developers have also introduced day and night into the Sim City engine that lets you see your city at night. It's actually quite amazing because the lights turn on around the city and as the night progresses, the traffic in your city dies down. 

Clouds now role over your cities and leave shadows, the larger your city becomes the more pollution is visible. To appreciate the small touches in the game, such as the street lights, you just have to see the game to believe it. It should also be noted that the game should be run at a resolution of 1024x768 because of the complexity of the game and that you really need a high-end computer to appreciate the graphics of this game. Anything from a Pentium 3 or less will have grave difficulties in running this game. 

The only drawback to the new system is that the menu system is a little tricky to navigate and I think that it's mainly because Maxis wanted to try a new slim lined look for their new title. It's not bad per se but does take some time getting use to and when you just want to jump into the game and play straight away, it can become a little frustrating. Fortunately the tool bars of the game remain similar as previous versions but now have this more smoother and stylish look to them. 

The gameplay of Sim City 4 is very similar to previous incarnations and it contains a very comprehensive tutorial for newcomers and veterans thatteaches you the basics of the game and to become a good mayor of your city. Each time you start a new city, you will start in god mode that lets you design your own terrains, rivers and seas and basically plan your environment before you place your city down. Once you have your area planned for your city, the game switches to Mayor mode that lets you have access to a variety of city building tools and other options such as budget, infrastructure, services and zoning. 

Unlike previous games, the new Sim City engine will actually build roads when you link areas together without the need for fiddle some designs. Thisdramatically cuts down your work load and improves the enjoyment of the game,unfortunately the computer can create some bizarre roads but this rarelyhappens. Another change of the game is the introduction of "Sims" that are actually characters that you can follow throughout their everyday lives. These Sims help give you valuable feedback on your city and give opinions about what's right and not in your city. By following your Sims, you can spy on their everyday lives as they go to work, go to sporting games or just go around the city shopping, a nice little touch. In previous incarnations of the game, it was sometimes easy to make major mistakes when expanding your city, fortunately the game now gives you valuable advice about electricity, sanitation and buildings to make things easier. These hints now prevent you from building like crazy or discovering later on that your budget will be blown by poor planning. 

Wantto visit your city yourself? This is now a possibly through a virtually createdavatar that lets you attend special public relation events such as junkets, ceremonies and speeches that actually help increase your popularity. Be warned though, if people don't like their mayor, your citycan become quite a dangerous place for you. But that's the price of megalomaniaand is all what Sim City is about. Many of the naturals disasters thataccompanied the previous games are still in the game such as twisters, lightningstrikes and fires, not to mention some really awesome otherworldlydisasters. 

Thesound effects of Sim City 4 contain all the hustle and bustle of a large citysuch as cars, trucks, factories, weather, people and various other soundeffects. Some of the disaster effects such as tornadoes and giant robots soundspectacular and really help portray the dangers of such a disaster. The musicin the game, although quite sombre (like jazz) are actually mp3's, so if you want to addyour own music, simple just copy them into the music directory and change anoption in the sound menu to custom tunes so your city can be rocking to yourfavourite tunes.  

Minimum Requirements
Pentium III 500MHZ
128MB of Memory
16MB 3D Accelerated Video Card
Windows 98/95/ME/XP
Pentium III 1000Mhz or higher
256MB of Memory
32MB 3D Accelerated Video Card 
Windows 98/95/ME/XP

SimCity has finally returned in all its glory that not only promises gamers one ofthe most fun building experiences ever but also treats them to someextraordinary graphics and gameplay. If you haven't heard about the Sim Cityseries, then check this game out, even if you have, this game will please bothnovices and veterans alike. Highly Recommended!

- Andrew B

Copyrightę2003 www.impulsegamer.com