I’ve played a lot of city-building simulators over the years and very few of them have been able to beat the Sim City games. Today is no different, because Maxis are once again back in action with a game where you create and rule over a city of your own as the almighty mayor – yes, the long wait for the next sequel of Sim City (or Sim City 5, as it is called in some cirlces) is finally over! You build a city, help the citizen with their problems and do what you can to keep the city thriving. Seems simple enough, yes? If it was a little less tricky to learn how to use all the features and to keep the economy stable for more than 30 minutes after every mission, the answer would be yes.
With most city management simulators, the cities adapt to the quality of the city. The better the location is and the more citizen who move into the location, the more some of the buildings evolve and become bigger on their own. I’m glad to see that Sim City is no different this time. It takes a lot of decorations and expensive roads, but at least there’s no need to tare down every single building to get the skyskrapers when you can afford them. As a matter of fact, it doesn’t cost anything to afford homes, private businesses and factories anymore! You just place the zones next to the roads and watch them evolve on their own as you build the rest of your city. The only things that require money, are the buildings the city needs to keep everything maintained and the citizens happy, like utilities, political buildings, parks and service buildings, and these buildings are the only ones that don’t evolve on their own. These you have to upgrade manually for a sum of money, so you better make sure there’s enough room for them to expand on. Even the roads can be upgraded for a sum of money!
If there is a feature in Sim City that is totally new to me, then it must be the feature where you can connect online to sell and buy help with utilities, services and other things with other cities. This is perfect for those who want to keep their cities small or don’t have enough room or money to build everything their city needs. To do this, you need to add your online friends in the game and add their cities to your map. Got no friends to play with? Don’t worry, you don’t really need them. In this version of Sim City, you can have several cities at once under your control! No need to exit saves or get secondary accounts, every city is just a couple of clicks away and you build them in any way you please. You just need to be aware of that each city has its own budget, so keep your eyes on the money.
As fun as it is to play, there are still a few things that bothers me about this game. For starters, you need to be logged into Origin to run the game, which I think is absolutely stupid, especially when you didn’t buy the game from Origin in the first place. I understand that Electronic Arts wants to verify that you have an original copy of the game and the importance of keeping the game fully upgraded and patched, but you don’t really need to be online to enjoy everything in the game (although I do end up back to the main menu when my computer is disconnected from the network from time to time). It also bothers me that the environmentally-friendly utilities and services are not always the most efficient ones to use, but at least the radiation levels are kept at a low rate when you use them and some of the realism of it all makes sense today. Last, but certainly not least, what would Sim City be without disasters? “Too easy” is my answer. I still haven’t managed to get far enough into the game to be able to activate any disasters manually, like tornados and alien invasions, but one of my cities did get to suffer from a couple of automatic earthquakes and fire break-outs, so chances are your city won’t be entirely safe from disasters. Last, but definetly not least, the speeds of the time in the game is something I must question, because the fastest setting in my game is only twice as fast as the regular speed (1 regular hour in the game is 1 second).
In conclusion, this is my favorite version of Sim City so far. I don’t have to waste time by rebuilding everything to make my city perfect and I can have several cities to control and co-operate with without switching save-files and get secondary user accounts of some kind. However, the need of an Internet connection to run the game is a completely rubbish idea when you don’t want to play online and after building 3 cities, I expect to be wowed and bothered by something unexpected, like an alien invation or a giant Servo (a kind of robot) to walk around the city like a huge Godzilla and wreck everything. I’m also impressed by the many options for those who want to make an environmentally-friendly city, but I’m not too sure about how accurate and good the stats for each building are. On top of that, the highest setting of the game speed also has to be fixed, in my opinion.
This game gets a 4/5 from me. Well done, Maxis!