I had been playing SimCity for six hours straight.
As the loss of time would tell you, the fear was unfounded. SimCity is as deep as it is charming, but the game ramps up so smoothly that when I got to worrying about where all of my citizens’ poop was going, I had a handle on the insanity.
In the beginning, my medium-capacity roads brought light residential trailer homes, but as the city population boomed and quality of life improved, people began demanding big ol’ apartment buildings and the finer things in life. Again, SimCity was teaching me this step by step with an advisor telling me roads need to be upgraded and citizens renovating their zones to fit the times.
It’s refreshing, but far from an exact science. I had streets flashing that they needed to be upgraded to support heavy industry, but I couldn’t upgrade them anymore than I already had. A Maxis rep told me that I needed to eliminate a road to allow the zone to populate the bigger structures, but even after demolishing that, I couldn’t get businesses to fill in. Mastering zoning and space management is something I assume will come with time.
THE MAPS ARE SMALLER
I didn’t tinker with this all that much. When I went to investigate taking on a second city, I found the Great Works Site, discovered I could start work on an Arcology (see: standing biodome), and lost interest in expanding. However, a player next to me asked about being out of space and her people wanting more industrial zones. A Maxis rep told her she could take over a new section of the map, make it industrial only, and then have her people commute over there.
It kind of seemed like a cop-out to me. When I’m playing with others, having the map broken up and the giant dead spots in between our sections makes sense, but when it’s just me, I’d rather have one massive map that I can work on to my heart’s content.
IT’S ABOUT EXPANDING WHAT YOU HAVE
Drop a clinic, and you can buy ambulance garages to place on the property and expand your healthcare’s reach. Once your garbage dump starts getting overrun, you can add multiple incinerators to deal with the trash. When you’re town hall is placed, you can plop down departments that give you access to different buildings and perks.
You get to lay the groundwork for the city you want and then start building out and iterating on it. If you go down the specialization path – an option that lets you start building Tech-centered buildings or casino-driven attractions – you’ll only have access to one type of structure, but as that business hits milestones, suped-up versions will become available. So, go from a Podunk casino to the Vegas hotspot over time.
It’ a fascinating option I'll have to tinker with over time.
THE OPTIONS ARE ASTOUNDING
SimCity is full of useful, easy-to-understand information like this. There are the Instagram-like filters for your overall view, but then there are overlays that show crime and pollution. Smiley/frowny faces telling you how happy citizens are populate the map. Drop a bus stop, and the area in front of it lights up so you can see at a glance what your coverage is like.
Knowledge is king in SimCity, and as the hours you spend at the mouse and keyboard pass by, you’ll soon master the art of watching your budget and expanding your empire
IT LIVES UP TO MY EXPECTATIONS
I’m not upset that the game isn’t what I was expecting; I’m intrigued.