Score: 9.2 / 10
Iíve never been a huge fan of the SimCity games, their continued
excellence is impressive and undeniable.
Even given that, I was kind of put off by the arrival of the
review copy of SimCity 4 in my mailbox, especially since it was the
latest in a long line of deep, involved PC games that I had been
assigned to review.
At that point, I simply was ready to blow things up mindlessly.
To its credit, SimCity 4, with its nearly endless customizability
and intuitive interface broke through my reluctance by the time I had
spent thirty minutes in the tutorial mode.
On top of that, SimCity 4 managed to satisfy my need to
maniacally blow things up better than I ever imagined possible (but more
on that later).
with all the SimCity games before it, SimCity 4 is a game of
Though it is this feature that has always turned me off to the
games in the past, the sheer degree of control the game gives you to
build cities combined with the options that the player has to work
around problems as they occur means people who seek out the SimCity
games because of the micromanagement will be extremely happy with the
One of the best new features in the game allows players to share
utility costs and production with neighboring cities, giving SimCity
civic planners an option beyond simply building a water plant or power
plant near an underpowered grid in their town when trying to satisfy
It also adds a nice layer of depth to city planning, allowing
players to build multiple cities that interact with one another.
I imagine for the true ďthe devil is in the detailsĒ kind of
player, this feature will add many, many hours to the playability of the
Unfortunately, those players better have a kick-butt system. SimCity has fairly low minimum requirements, but I donít even want to think about how the game would play on a system of that ilk. On my test system, which is superior even to the recommended system by a great deal, the game can still turn into a slide show occasionally when scrolling across a large, active city. Iím sure it is said activity that slows things to a crawl at times, but the city detail is so impressive that Iím willing to put up with the occasional drag.
The cities in SimCity 4 are so active, so realistic that it is fascinating simply to sit and watch them for long stretches of time. It is cool to watch as commuters have to take a long, winding road to work in the industrial park for a while, but then take the new shortcut that was just built as soon as it opens. Cars stop at stop lights that actually cycle through the different colors regularly. Fires break out at random, and when you send a fire
fight the fire, little firemen hop off with their hoses and go to work.
The world cycles from day to night with the appropriate change in
the numbers of people on the roads and sidewalks.
Ferris Wheels turn at amusement parks.
The cities are simply alive with activity.
of Maxisís other mega-hit The Sims will be happy to know
SimCity 4 provides a neat interactivity with that product.
Players can import their sims from The Sims
and move them into homes in the city.
Those sims will then go about their everyday life in the city.
It is really a neat addition and will probably persuade some of
the ten million or so Sims players into buying SimCity 4 (now
thatís good marketing).
The Sims/SimCity connection also makes one of my favorite SimCity
pastimes more enjoyable.
Since the franchise began, I have always enjoyed destroying the
cities more than building them.
Now, with Sim City 4, not only can I destroy the town, I can
destroy my hometown, populated with Sims named after my friends and
Check the accompanying screenshots and youíll notice the sad
little town of Whitesburg in the throes of being attacked by a giant
Unfortunately, my niece and one of my brothers lost their lives
in the attack.
As with all the SimCity games (and most Maxis games even), there is just as much toy here as game. It is marvelous fun to use God-like power to morph the terrain, release tornadoes on the town, or simply try to make your city the best it can be. Fans of the older games wonít be disappointed with SimCity 4, and the easy interface and helpful tutorials mean it is also a great jumping in point for new playersóthough it will likely take a few failed attempts to really catch on. Whichever camp people fall in, SimCity 4 seems destined to please.
(July 6, 2003)
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