I want to love SimCity I really do, but for now it is entertaining for a while and I am in need of an expansion pack.
I have played SimCity for roughly 200 hours which is good, most of this was during the dev beta in February that I was a part of. The difference between this beta and the launch of the game was that we only had 1 region we could play, but the rest worked well. We had cheetah speed and servers that worked. I wanted to emphasize this because SimCity did have start up problems but we are not judging the game on that. However the fixes to the road system and other streamlined things we did not have.
In this review I start with the good, then the bad and then the conclusion. If you do not want to read an entire review, click on an image and check out every screen for a summary of each point I made.
Easy to learn and then you lose all track of time
There is a learning curve, but it is not as hard as I remember with the older SimCity games. Whatever you do, the first region you play will suck as you are learning the game. After that is done, there is a lot of freedom on what you want to do. Keeping the city from not imploding is harder than you think though! This gives a real challenge that keeps you glued to the game for a while.
I am in love with the data layers, it works a lot better than any spread sheets we have had before. We can see where the criminals currently are or where there is (polluted) water. It is just such a beautiful solution to having barely any more spread sheets in this game. I find it ingenious.
You can choose to play in a single city and make that epic or work in the entire region, the entire region is in my opinion much more entertaining. As soon as you have a city working relatively well, enough roads, electricity, water, good service and a positive balance – start a new city and donate a lot of money to it. I prefer starting up a new city as I get bored with the same city when it reaches stability/balance, some people like getting the population to as high as possible but that is not me. In The Sims 3 I will very often start new game when the first one has their lifetime challenge done.
Another aspect I love is the specialization, it gives an added challenge on top of the regular RCI. Being able to specialize in tourism, or mining or electronics is a good challenge. I was however expecting it to be more than we got. Once the basics are set up all you have to do is wait to have made enough profit before you can open up the next departments.
The graphics of this game are gorgeous and it runs fantastic, considering how detailed it is I would have expected there to be a lot of prople with problems like not enough Ram or in need of a faster computer but we all seem to be good. I did hear that graphics cards were not up to par but that was with only a few people.
No pipes or electricity lines
This in my opinion is a good change from previous SimCity games. All you have to worry about is roads [more on that later] no need to also worry if all the buildings get electicity because you cannot place buildings anywhere besides on roads and that automatically connects them to the power system.
Curvy roads are awesome, it feels very natural and easy on how to place roads in curves. Sadly at the end of the day I always went back to the grid model as that felt was the most efficient.
In SimCity there are many image filters that can give your city a completely different look in a moment.
To make a great works you have to spend a lot of resources and time but in the end they are worth it and give a lot of population, electricity, trade or tourism. It does take forever even when you are constantly supplying the goods.
This can definitely be improved on.
Roads and roads and roads
Traffic Jams suck and they happen too easily in SimCity, I don’t know if it is a case of tweaking the road engine [they have been tweaking it a lot] or a case of me not getting the system.
The road system is based on what I imagine the American road system to be, I’ve never driven there so I am not 100% sure but I’ve seen movies and my question is: Do you all really have that many stop lights and intersections? Here in The Netherlands we are a big fan of roundabouts, flyovers, tunnels. Small country so we have to be really smart with roads and I feel the road system in SimCity lacks diversity and options.
How I would do it in most cities is make the big avenues higher so that the small roads can pass underneath it without intersection each other. And have lanes join or leave the avenue for people wanting to get from small roads to the big roads. Then I would also like separate buslanes, roundabouts – in desperate need of roundabouts, right of way lanes, etc.
I know SimCity is not a road/traffic simulator but with the importance of the roads it might as well be, it just does not have all the options we would get in a road simulator. At least we do not have to worry about road maintenance… imagine having to worry about shutting lanes down!
Regional control and more highway entries
We cannot place any rail or highways in the region, I do miss this because why would you go ~100km out of the way with a curve when you can get a direct route if only we had those controls… this might sound small and nitpicking but after playing a game and you are depended on coal from the region you are going to curse that it has to drive so far.
Also, what I find missing is being able to build another highway exit/entry, it does not make sense to me that if a highway passes my city on several places why I only have 1 exit/entry.
I know it’s a beaten to death topic but I will have to mention it, the city sizes are small. I hope regions with bigger city sizes will be added in the near future – in a patch! Not in a DLC pack.
Terraforming to the point that we have had in previous SimCity games might be a tad unrealistic, or is it? As mentioned before I am from the Netherlands and we do, literally, create new land when we need more space. It takes 20-30 years to make a few square km of land so the *speed* of terraforming we had before was unrealistic, that it could happen was not. Therefor I do miss it, being able to control the amount of hills/flat space was great though maybe it played too much with the difficulty level. A flat city is easier than one with hills.
However what I expect to get is a tool that we can make our own regions, now that would be fun.
I find the always online aspect of this game neither good nor bad, it is just a fact that a lot of games will have this. And I’ve seen worse than how it is managed in SimCity, in other games if your connection has one little tiny hiccup you are kicked out.
It gives the fun aspect that we can play in Multi-City mode and Multiplayer. But of course there is the concern, what happens in the future with our game? Servers are not perfect and go down.
This is why this part is in the could be improved, the game could get a single-player mode and servers need constant attention/improving/maintenance.
16 city play – eh wait a moment
One of my personal biggest disappointments was that 16 cities in a region are not all connected with each other but are divided in roughly 4 sectors. This means that a great work works for the nearby 4 cities but not the other 12 in the region. I saw it happening that I would own all 16 cities, give each specialization have them all work together. I’ve not even tried this because I am just so disappointed not all cities are connected to each other.
Not enough Details
Maybe the game is not 100% geared for me, I like to micromanage things, for instance in this game I would have liked to have more control over public transport routes. Once you figure out the game and played around with the specializations it is clearly a case of ‘now what’. This feeling I have had with every other SimCity game and it is sad that this game that looks so amazing and awesome did not keep my attention.
Details for me are micro-managing production like in the Anno and Settlers Series. Or being able to control the government through edicts like in the Tropico Series.
In essence this game did not hold my attention as long as I expected, we have a lot of options but not that much creativity with the landscape or roads (even with curvy roads). Even with all the specializations, great works trading in the end it is the same SimCity game. I love building up the city and then it when becomes a decent size I get bored, I need more than the basic RCI game to hold my attention.
What I would absolutely love to see is a Create-a-World tool like we have for The Sims 3 but then for SimCity. I think that would give me a creative boost.