The ability to serve as the city’s mayor is not what sets the new installment of “Sim City” apart from its predecessors — it’s the ease with which you can build up that city.
If you manage to look past the DRM debacle that led to endless problems for early adopters of the game, you’ll find that “SimCity” is one of the most approachable city building simulations ever. The largest obstacle you’ll likely face is the 15,000 simoleon starting budget.
Proper road placement and building zoning are the keys to any successful city, but the challenge comes in the form of managing finances and appeasing the needs of your citizens. Maintaining a clear focus for your city is essential as the actual space allotted to each virtual city is incredibly limited.
Fortunately, “SimCity” makes it both fun and easy to place roads, zone areas for specific growth, and build parks and attractions. With a wealth of data maps and information available about almost every aspect of your city, you’ll never waste time wondering what you should be doing to accomplish your goals. Advisors pop-up with friendly messages, giving you recommendations that usually guide you down the right path.
Instead of creating massive cities, Maxis has opted to create a region system that links cities together. Instead of creating and running cities independently, all players are required to claim a plot of land within a larger region. All of the cities within that region share certain technologies and can trade resources, products and services. A city dedicated to taking out garbage will use its vast garbage truck fleet to collect trash from neighboring cities, as well as from its own.
The beauty of this new approach to city building is it really makes for a meaningful cooperative experience. Although this works at its best when all of the mayors communicate with each other to avoid overlapping industries and research, it still plays a significant part, even if you’re jumping into a random public region.
This all breaks apart when you treat the game like any other “SimCity” game. The size of each city is restricted to the point that you really can’t hope to dominate or even start to enter every single industry. Focusing on a single purpose for each city is definitely necessary. A large tourist destination can’t afford to export power to regional cities.
These overarching changes to the way the game is played aren’t necessarily good or bad. Rather, they’re a huge change from what most players are used to.
Amid the immense coverage of the “SimCity” launch’s failure, Maxis has created a game that manages to modernize the “SimCity” franchise, while maintaining the very things that make the series what it is. You may no longer be able to build gigantic cities that stretch across the screen, but you’ll be able to build cities connected to a larger region.