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SimCity (2013) Review

SimCity (2013) Review

Having been a fan of SimCity for a while now, finding out I would be reviewing the latest version was a little nerve-racking, because it had a lot to live up to. Unfortunately the game has had a troubled start, and a lot of bad press, but these problems will be addressed in the review.

First of all, there have absolutely no problems with the servers for me. The installation took a while, but once it finished, logging in was fine. Perhaps this was extremely lucky, or I just managed to missed all the upheaval of the first couple of days. There have been many people angry that they've had to queue for a single-player game. but SimCity is technically a multiplayer game, in which case it needs servers to run. Yes, you can play alone, but that is your own choice.

So keeping that in mind , it's no wonder really that there were kinks to iron out in the beginning. Yes there was a beta, but any game that exists on such a large scale is likely to encounter some problems, so we can't hold grudges for that. What Maxis have achieved in creating an always-online, cooperative, city-building game should be applauded.

The second issue that I would like to address is the microtransactions. Again, the idea of microtransactions has been heavily criticised by gamers around the world. Well, if you're having an issue with them in SimCity, then you must be going out of your way to look for them. They are not at all in your face, they in no way affect the enjoyment of the game, and ignoring them altogether doesn't limit your advancement. Honestly, I don't see what all the fuss is about.

Now on to the game itself. Off the bat, I am going to say it is great; a really fun, addictive game. Several times my eyes and head were hurting, but the words "five more minutes" kept popping into my head, which, for me, is what any good game should aim to do.

The starting tutorial is short and simple, but educates you in the basics, without being boring or overly convoluted. It is a far cry from SimCity 4, where it felt like the tutorials were endless, and I emerged the other side, feeling more confused than when I started. By incorporating the helpful 'Guide Me' function within the gameplay, there really is no need for any complicated tutorial.

When starting the game, you can choose one of eight regions, each including a set number of possible cities (from two to sixteen) and something called 'great works'. These are areas in the region which can be filled with a great work, an international airport perhaps, that each city can combine resources to build. Within the regions you can choose to play them privately (invite only) or publicly (any old fella can jump in) and you claim whichever city you like the look of. There is also a nice mode called Sandbox, which give you access to some cheats, a much bigger budget, and all buildings are unlocked to start, which really lets your creative juices flow.

The cities' landscapes are pre-designed and unchangeable. That's right, no terrain tools whatsoever. This can be a little frustrating when building, but to be honest I didn't really miss the hassle of it. Also each city has a predetermined amount of resources. So in one region you may have three cities, one with lots of untapped oil and potential ore mines, and another with an abundance of water, whilst the other may be particularly breezy.

All of these resources can be harnessed, one can send water from their city to the other to fuel their nuclear reactor, or breezy town can set up an expansive wind farm, and donate all the extra power to a city specialising in gambling (all those flashing casino lights can be electrically demanding!).

I chose a little city, rich in ore, oil and water, named it Penguinopolis and got started building my city. There are still three type of zones for your city, Residential, Commercial, and Industrial, each one defining the type of building that will be established in that area. How dense the area can become (the difference between skyscraper apartments and little cottages) is controlled by the type of road it is attached to. This is fine at the beginning, but becomes a slight issue which I will cover later on.

A nice new addition to this rehash of SimCity is that city necessities, like the police station, hospitals, and schools can all be modified to maximise efficiency. For example, you can add extra ambulances to your hospital, which mean they can help more people, and you can also lend them to your neighbour cities if they can't quite afford a health care system yet. Schools can have extra classrooms and bus stations can expand to accommodate more passengers. All this means that every city can be tailored exactly to what its needs are, and definitely helps with replay value.

As your city becomes more successful, better educated, and higher tech, you'll notice the buildings begin to change. If you've attached your zones to high density roads, no problem, but if you haven't then you have a pesky problem on your hands. There is no move button. You can't simply move buildings out of the way, build higher density roads, and then pop them back on. There is only one solution; bulldozing, and bulldozing the road means bulldozing all the buildings attached to it. That nice Arc de Triomphe you spent hundreds of thousands of pennies on, gone. You don't get a reimbursement either, you simply have repurchase.

This means that when designing your city, you really have to plan ahead, otherwise you can end up in some really dire situations. I built a nice industrial area, but noticed that the high street wasn't hacking it with regards to traffic, so decided I need to change the roads into avenues. As there were no purchased buildings in the area, I thought, okay, I'm not losing any real money here, and bulldozed the lot, rebuilding it to be more lorry-friendly.

Then I nearly had a panic attack. All of those lovely factories that I had to wait to be rebuilt, were now producing no money. My budget went from 5000 simoleons an hour, to MINUS 5000, nearly bankrupting me. So if you want to restructure your city, this is definitely something to keep in mind. Obviously this makes perfect sense; renovate your city in parts, and I lay the blame entirely on my aforementioned sore eyes and head preventing me from thinking straight... yeah.

Once I got to grips with these two irritating facts, it really was just a case of enjoying the game. Managing the city was fascinating and accessible, with a fantastic, streamlined user interface. The graphics are absolutely stunning, with the nice, cartoony edge that wasn't present in SimCity 4 (which was very dull to look at in my opinion), and the passage of time is shown amazingly. The difference between day and night is gorgeous to behold; the street lamps and windows lighting up in the evening, and the town slowly waking up as the sun rises. Also, things like pollution have a gradual effect on your city, with the sewage pipes darkening the ground around it, and clouds of air pollution rising from your industrial area.

Another thing that I found surprisingly delightful was the music. Beautiful piano music plays whilst you are gaming; it reminded me of the type of music you would hear on a nature show, where you watch as a spider spins her web in high speed. It really was truly captivating and made all the more noticeable when it took a turn for a more sinister music when I was attacked by ZOMBIES. Yes, zombies. Tiny little green people rampaged my streets, eating brains and generally causing havoc. I'm sorry but that is very, very cool.

Overall the game is thoroughly entertaining, and despite all the bad press, definitely worth try. I would honestly recommend this to anyone who enjoys city simulation games, and the challenge of working as part of a strategic cog in a larger machine, whether that includes other players, or just yourself.

9.00/10 9

SimCity (Reviewed on Windows)

Excellent. Look out for this one.

Overall the game is thoroughly entertaining, and despite all the bad press, definitely worth try. I would honestly recommend this to anyone who enjoys city simulation games, and the challenge of working as part of a strategic cog in a larger machine, whether that includes other players, or just yourself.

This game was supplied by the publisher or relevant PR company for the purposes of review
Emsey P. Walker

Emsey P. Walker

Junior Editor

Emsey is a lover of games and penguins. Apparently she does some writing too...somewhere...

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COMMENTS

Kaostic
Kaostic - 11:46pm, 3rd April 2015

All the bad press it's been getting sounds a lot like the start of Diablo. There were server issues, that's it. After reading the review, I really want to play this but I've got so much other stuff to play/do atm, I'll hold off.

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Platinum
Platinum - 11:46pm, 3rd April 2015

F**k EA over this tbh.

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Kaostic
Kaostic - 11:46pm, 3rd April 2015

I'm not a huge fan of EA but I have never played any of the old SimCity's but really enjoy city simulators. I'm also a fan of good graphics so don't want to go back to the old ones. I also like the idea of sharing resources with friends or neighboring cities.

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Emseypenguin
Emseypenguin - 11:46pm, 3rd April 2015 Author

Having played so many online games, I'm struggling to think of one where there wasn't server issues at the beginning. I used to queue for 3 hours to play the latest WoW expansion for at least a week after its release. The whole sharing resources thing is epic. The regions with 16 cities, it's just awesome to be able to trade with loads of others.

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Cronos
Cronos - 11:46pm, 3rd April 2015

I'll stick with the original.

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Kaostic
Kaostic - 11:46pm, 3rd April 2015

I'll stick with the original.

[img]http://www.memecreator.org/static/images/memes/1136300.jpg[/img]

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Cronos
Cronos - 11:46pm, 3rd April 2015

Oh fuck right off.

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Ex0dUs-1428097470
Ex0dUs-1428097470 - 11:46pm, 3rd April 2015

Personally I'm enjoying this so far. Yes it had issues, some it shouldn't have, but they are giving us a free game as an apology which they didn't have to do. Once you look the bad launch it is a lot of fun especially if you have people to play a region with and I love the new direction. It needs a lot of work, yes there are some awful mechanics that need patching but what's there is fun :-) Sent from my C6603 using Tapatalk 2

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Emseypenguin
Emseypenguin - 11:46pm, 3rd April 2015 Author

It needs a lot of work, yes there are some awful mechanics that need patching but what's there is fun :-)

Exactly the awesome thing about an always online game- patching. Extra content, bug fixes, tailoring to players needs. Like you said, this is a lot of fun, which essentially is what a game should be.

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fazer
fazer - 11:46pm, 3rd April 2015

but they are giving us a free game as an apology which they didn't have to do.

What game is that exodus, not heard that news.

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Emseypenguin
Emseypenguin - 11:46pm, 3rd April 2015 Author

It's any game in the EA portfolio.

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Ex0dUs-1428097470
Ex0dUs-1428097470 - 11:46pm, 3rd April 2015

Yep they will be sending out details from the 18th onwards as to what it will be and how to claim it. Keep an eye on your email :-) Sent from my Xperia Z using Tapatalk 2

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fazer
fazer - 11:46pm, 3rd April 2015

Woot, in your face Listy a freebie :D

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Ex0dUs-1428097470
Ex0dUs-1428097470 - 11:46pm, 3rd April 2015

Update on the free game : [url]http://forum.ea.com/eaforum/posts/list/9378384.page[/url] Looks like ill be picking up Dead Space 3

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icaruschips
icaruschips - 11:46pm, 3rd April 2015

I've played, I think, about ten hours of this now and I'm kinda loving it. It pisses me off to no end that there's no legit single player mode. I don't want to start a server and make it invite-only if I want to be offline, playing on my own in a large area without worrying about creating other cities just so I can get unpolluted water. But, that aside, it's great fun. Not had a single issue server wise and it runs brilliantly. As far as online goes, I'm in a region with three friends and we're all packed in cities next to each other. While I want offline single player in a single, large city, it's nice to zoom out and see their cities growing next to mine or actually visiting them if I want to. It does amuse me though that someone can be complaining that their husband died of a broken arm then accidentally set their house on fire, and then immediately forgive me for not having healthcare and a slow fire service because I built a basketball park across the street. I also got Mass Effect 3 for free, but I almost took SimCity 4 Deluxe instead. For funsies.

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Kaostic
Kaostic - 11:46pm, 3rd April 2015

So, who has this and what's your Origin names?

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Emseypenguin
Emseypenguin - 11:46pm, 3rd April 2015 Author

Meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee and I think it's Emseypenguin *goes to check*

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icaruschips
icaruschips - 11:46pm, 3rd April 2015
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Kaostic
Kaostic - 11:46pm, 3rd April 2015

I'll add you tonight. I'm Kaostic. I need people to join my region :( - I've got a 16 player region with nobody to place with QQ. I have too much coal than I know what to do with!

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Platinum
Platinum - 11:46pm, 3rd April 2015

I'll add you tonight. I'm Kaostic. I need people to join my region :( - I've got a 16 player region with nobody to place with QQ. I have too much coal than I know what to do with!

Im still tempted to get this against my better judgement, have the issues been ironed out? And looking around it still seems to be over £40?, For a PC game that's a little to steep for me for something I may have problems with.

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Kaostic
Kaostic - 11:46pm, 3rd April 2015

So far, I've found no problems really. I picked up the game for £30 but it's in Russian. I just did a language change on it with a few tweaks but I have to do that everytime there's an update which is a bit annoying but hey ho. It's a great game tbh. It just had a bad launch. Plus, I got a free copy of Dead Space 3 because of the fuck up so I'm happy. People are whining about the DRM but I'm really not bothered. I'll believe what Maxis are saying at the moment about it always being a multiplayer game. I like the game and the multiplayer aspect of it and until I experience downtime, I'll be fine with it.

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icaruschips
icaruschips - 11:46pm, 3rd April 2015

I got booted once for a server update. Pissed me off, but I knew what I was getting into when I bought it. Like I said, I hate the idea of always being on, especially in SimCity, something I've always seen as a solo game when I want to kill some time, but I knew the deal with this one. It's not required to always 'be on,' though. That's what people are moaning about. Within a week or so a player had already altered something to allow him to play it fully offline suffering, far as I could tell, no drawbacks in gameplay. Maxis didn't comment, EA didn't comment.

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Platinum
Platinum - 11:46pm, 3rd April 2015

Ok, I don't fancy paying more than £30 for it though so ill wait and see what deals come on it.

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Kaostic
Kaostic - 11:46pm, 3rd April 2015

Maxis didn't comment, EA didn't comment.

Maxis commented. [url]http://www.ea.com/news/simcity-update-straight-answers-from-lucy[/url]

So, could we have built a subset offline mode? Yes. But we rejected that idea because it didn’t fit with our vision. We did not focus on the “single city in isolation” that we have delivered in past SimCities. We recognize that there are fans – people who love the original SimCity – who want that. But we’re also hearing from thousands of people who are playing across regions, trading, communicating and loving the Always-Connected functionality. The SimCity we delivered captures the magic of its heritage but catches up with ever-improving technology.

The problem now was that EA lied about it [B]having[/B] to be online. They said it required server power because our puny little computers weren't powerful enough.

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icaruschips
icaruschips - 11:46pm, 3rd April 2015

Like I say, I knew what I was getting into when I bought it, BUT, I don't think it could have been too much trouble for Maxis to have created an offline (or even just a single player mode, while online where I had a larger base to build around) mode. I didn't know about Maxis' comment, but it does little to change things. I highly doubt their vision was to have a game where people couldn't play it on release, can't play it if their internet goes down, or can't play when the servers need to update/need maintenance. I'm enjoying the game, I really am, I think it's fun. But it's also not going to make me never play the older games again where I can play how I actually want to.

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Kaostic
Kaostic - 11:46pm, 3rd April 2015

I'm not bothered mainly because I'm used to it with World of Warcraft and the like. I don't hear people whining about WoW being online. Is it because the older Sim City's were offline?

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icaruschips
icaruschips - 11:46pm, 3rd April 2015

It's because WoW is an MMO. It's hard to have the Massively Multiplayer Online part of the game without the multiple people from online. SimCity was a city builder. SimCity is now a region builder.

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Kaostic
Kaostic - 11:46pm, 3rd April 2015

In that linked article, she says "we've built an mmo". I think they wanted it to be all about multiplayer and not about single.

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icaruschips
icaruschips - 11:46pm, 3rd April 2015

That's the problem. Now I can't play offline, I can't make extravagantly large cities, using roads cripples my build space and if I want to create large sources of energy or water I need to make another 'region' and build it up a little just so I can trade with myself instead of simply building these things out of the way of my main build area. I understand the wont to make everything online these days, I do. But SimCity isn't one of the things that needs it, least of all rely on it to function properly. It's one of the cases where it simply should have been an option, not a requirement. I'm enjoying it, like I said, but there's some things very wrong with it.

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Kaostic
Kaostic - 11:46pm, 3rd April 2015

I'm having the space issue now too. My city needs more residents and I'm out of space. I'm working on increasing happiness and wealth to create skyscrapers.

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Kaostic
Kaostic - 11:46pm, 3rd April 2015

For those of your who don't like the DRM: [url]http://store.steampowered.com/app/24780/[/url] Sim City 4 is 75% off for the next 6 hours.

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