Sim City Hands On Preview
Release Date 2013 TBC
Sim City is one of my all-time favourites, Sim City 4 is still currently installed and constantly played on a weekly basis. So I was excited to hear that it is finally getting a long awaited reboot, but still slightly concerned that Maxis have one eye on the cash cow that is “social gaming”.
No matter how many Sim City trailers and presentations you watch you never really get a proper feel for the game until you get your hands on that mouse and start zoning your commercial districts. So it was very welcome to be invited by Maxis to test out the latest build under the proviso that it was an early build and not the final product. So here are our thoughts.
Curved roads! No your not dreaming. You are no longer bound by straight lines, if you want a circular city then you can have it. You will just have to deal with the traffic problems within your city afterwards. In fact the role roads now play has changed dramatically, they no longer just give your citizens a path to travel around your city or to connect your zoned areas to a road network. They now also distribute the electricity and water around your city while also taking the sewage back to the treatment plant as all the ducting now comes pre-installed in the road network you lay. This was a major concern and one I hope was only because this was an early demo but managing the water network was always a huge part of Sim City and to see it dumbed down was really disappointing, but again this might turn out to be the right move something we won’t know until we have spent a few hours with the game.
Building your city still means zoning areas and this bring another change. First you must place your road network as you can no longer just zone large areas instead you have to now zone along the road side. If you build a enclosed block you can zone that full block but if you build a single road you can only zone along the side of that road. This is a brilliant improvement to the series and one that really improves the way you zone areas. It means you can really put your print on the city ensuring that no two cities will ever be the same.
The game still plays the same way you build your transport and utility networks, zone areas and create the right environment for prosperity. Once your citizens start to move in they will build their own homes along with their own commercial and industrial units. You will find that you play a greater role in helping individual citizens as well as your overall city. Little bubbles will pop up when someone is having an issue. You can click this bubble to find out what is bothering the person and try to fix it.
As revealed earlier in the year each citizen is an individual, they will get up go to work come home and go to bed. So rather than having traffic that drives around the corner and disappears you can now track their movement and design your city so it avoids congestion. This city lives beyond what you do you can only offer to help in the best way you can your citizens still have free will to mess up on their own terms, worse luck!
So that was our time with Maxis playing Sim City a brief encounter but enough to give us just a taste of what to expect. Of course it is difficult to get a handle on a game like Sim City that you can easily spend years playing in such a short sitting but it was enough to quash any lingering doubts that Sim City will be anything but a huge success. Our small concerns are hopefully going to be addressed in the last remaining months of production to shift the balance back from social experience to the civic simulator it should be.