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Maxis Software

SimShady photo
SimShady

Upcoming SimCity patch will address top requested fixes


Servers will be down during this April 22, 1 PM PST update
Apr 19
// Allistair Pinsof
On April 22, SimCity will continue its arduous trek to becoming a game worthy of its name. The Update 2.0 patch will address "a number of top-requested bug fixes and improvements," according to developer Maxis. Along with som...
SimCity photo
SimCity

SimCity + toothpaste = $$$$$$$$$$!???!?!?!


You have to buy real products to get the new DLC
Apr 17
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
SimCity's latest stunt sees a tie-in with Crest and Oral-B tooth products, where if you buy specially marked packages of toothpaste and stuff, you'll be given a code to the new Attractions Set downloadable content. So what's ...
SimCity photo
SimCity

SimCity: Cheetah speed returns, Mac release June 11


It's kind of like the game I bought, now.
Apr 10
// Allistair Pinsof
"Do you like to play with Cheetah Speed?" SimCity's Facebook asks. "No, I prefer not having basic functionality that keeps the game from being boring and painfully slow!" But for the rest of you, you may be happy to hear that...
N!$$AN RULES!!! photo
N!$$AN RULES!!!

Free Nissan Leaf content paves way for greener SimCity


In news that I swear didn't come on April 1
Apr 02
// Allistair Pinsof
Guys, EA heard you. Your complaints about SimCity have finally been answered! "Why is my city so polluted and gross?" "Why would someone build a coal plant between a school and hospital in downtown?" "Why must my sims live su...

EA: DRM is a failed, dead-end strategy

Mar 28 // Jim Sterling
Call me a cynic, but when I see games presented as online services -- especially when those services fail to serve us -- I see little more than DRM dressed in a shiny new suit. It strikes me as convenient that these "services" also serve the exact same purpose as DRM -- controlling how the end user behaves, shutting down if failing to meet requirements, and providing extra hassle for paying customers.  I find it hard to believe anything said about SimCity lately, given the general air of distrust EA Maxis' claims about the game's online demands have fostered.  If SimCity can do it, I expect to see a fair few other games calling themselves MMOs for little other reason than to get away with an always-online requirement. It seems to be quite a popular thing in the industry right now, to dress up old bullshit business tactics as new things. You'll notice how EA's been calling games with online passes special editions now, downplaying the fact it's gated off the online portion to let us know we can get maybe an extra weapon at the same time. Sheep's clothing at its best.  So yeah, games don't have DRM anymore. They're just special types of MMO! EA: "DRM is a failed dead-end strategy" [GI.biz]
EA: DRM a failed strategy photo
Games boss swears EA Maxis decided on the SimCity online stuff
Electronic Arts may have been one of the last big wielders of SecuROM, and SimCity's online woes reek of it, but EA Labels president Frank Gibeau claims to hate DRM. According to him, such anti-piracy measures have failed, an...

SimCity video photo
SimCity video

A SimCity highway that will make you soil yourself


Weeeeeeeeeeee!
Mar 27
// Fraser Brown
Given the limited space that EA Maxis expects prospective city managers to construct in, one might be forgiven for thinking that there's not much room for bizarre experimentation in SimCity. This is not quite true, however, ...
SimCity sales photo
SimCity sales

SimCity has sold over 1 million copies since launch


It's the best selling SimCity game of all time
Mar 18
// Joshua Derocher
According to Electronic Arts, SimCity has sold over 1.1 million copies, making it the fastest selling SimCity game to date. About half of those sales have been for the digital version of the game.  It's interesting that ...
SimCity photo
SimCity

EA's free games for SimCity players includes SimCity 4


Plus Dead Space 3, Battlefield 3, Mass Effect 3 and more
Mar 18
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
Electronic Arts is trying to make good for all their disastrous launch issues with SimCity by offering select PC games free to players. Starting today, players that have activated their copy of SimCity should receive an email...
SimCity photo
SimCity

Subset offline mode didn't fit Maxis' vision for SimCity


Developer responds to SimCity backlash
Mar 15
// Jordan Devore
After a rather eventful day of people tinkering with SimCity in order to play offline, Maxis general manager Lucy Bradshaw has written a "straight answers" blog post addressing the game's always-on design. Those hoping for a ...

SimCity can be played offline, according to anyone but EA

Mar 14 // Jim Sterling
[embed]248656:47560:0[/embed] This discovery follows reports by Rock, Paper, Shotgun that an anonymous insider is claiming SimCity never needed to remain online, and can actually go offline at any moment. While Maxis' Lucy Bradshaw claims offline play would require "a significant amount of engineering work from our team to rewrite the game," faceless informants cry foul.  "The servers are not handling any of the computation done to simulate the city you are playing," claims RPS' source. "They are still acting as servers, doing some amount of computation to route messages of various types between both players and cities. As well, they’re doing cloud storage of save games, interfacing with Origin, and all of that. But for the game itself? No, they’re not doing anything. I have no idea why they’re claiming otherwise. It’s possible that Bradshaw misunderstood or was misinformed, but otherwise I’m clueless." It's suggested the server doesn't even react to your gameplay in real-time, and that it can take a few minutes for it to check your session for hacks or cheats. The bottom line is that, according to those who aren't in Electronic Arts' thrall, it wouldn't take much effort at all to get your an offline version of SimCity -- barring, of course, the game's regional features.  But of course, Electronic Arts made a bold stand on this issue, and is expected to pridefully stick to its guns. All the while, its resolute determination to keep players online will continue to confirm something I think was obvious -- the always-online requirement was only ever a business decision, not one made to enhance the gameplay. The end goal was to keep tabs on players at all times, and control their behavior beyond the point of sale, because EA is terrified of its own audience.  It's DRM in sheep's clothing, and the longer EA decides to keep SimCity online, the clearer that becomes.
SimCity online workaround photo
Evidence mounts that 'always-on' requirement is total bunkem
There is mounting evidence that, despite EA Maxis' claims to the contrary, SimCity is wholly capable of being played offline -- a capability that would have saved buyers a week of hassle and tons of creativity now lost to ser...

Maxis has 'no intention' of making SimCity offline

Mar 11 // Jim Sterling
"The good news is that tens of thousands of new players are streaming into the game every day and the confidence our fans have shown is truly humbling," she wrote. "I can’t begin to explain the way a development team feels when something you're proud of is threatened at launch. Our biggest fear was that people who love this franchise would be scared off by bad reviews about the connectivity issues. "But you put your faith in us. You bought the game with the understanding that we’d quickly fix the server issues. For that support -- that incredible commitment from our fans -- we are deeply grateful. As the general manager of Maxis, I want you to know that we cherish your faith in us, and the love you've shown for this franchise." All very touching stuff, but these grand displays of humility ring rather hollow for me when it was so obvious SimCity was going to be unplayable at launch. We all pretty much called it, and I refuse to believe anybody at Maxis or Electronic Arts would be so dense as to have not called it too. Once you cross a point where what you're doing is so obviously detrimental to a game launch, and you do it anyway, you waive the ability to craft a believable apology.  SimCity's bullshit wasn't a mistake. It was the result of a decision that had to have factored in the frustration of launch day buyers, and deemed that frustration an acceptable risk.
No offline SimCity photo
Claims the problems are 'almost behind us'
While SimCity's DRM-in-sheep's-clothing continues to cause playabilty issues, EA Maxis has declared its intent to keep the game tied to a server. The company will do "everything it can" to make your game playable, but that do...

SimCity freebie photo
SimCity freebie

EA to offer free PC game for SimCity players


So it's come to this
Mar 08
// Jordan Devore
After a disastrous launch week for SimCity, Maxis and Electronic Arts are going to offer a free PC game via download to players as an apology. "On March 18, SimCity players who have activated their game will receive an email ...
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Deadpool, Dead Space & Dead Tired Of SimCity's BS


The Destructoid Show got sent home from school today for cursing
Mar 08
// Max Scoville
Hey everybody! Here's today's Destructoid Show! I'm guessing you guys have heard about all the nonsense going on with SimCity, so if you're sick of it by this point, I apologize. There's a new trailer for Deadpool, which I'm ...
SimCity photo
SimCity

Petition demands the removal of DRM from SimCity


And all future games too
Mar 08
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
SimCity is broken. Players aren't able to connect to the servers, and without that connection you virtually cannot do anything with the city building game. Fans are rightly outraged, taking to various social media outlets ...
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EA: SimCity's broken because it's just too much fun!


Users blamed for wanting to play the game too much
Mar 08
// Jim Sterling
In what has to be the most incredible display of PR spin seen in a videogame crisis, an Electronic Arts spokesperson has claimed SimCity's notoriously awful DRM setbacks are a result of the game being just too gosh-darn enjoy...
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SimCity Metacritic user reviews are brutal brutal brutal!


'This is SimVillage'
Mar 08
// Jim Sterling
Big game releases these days are almost always going to be subject to some literary abuse via the outlet of Metacritic user reviews, especially when a major publisher like Electronic Arts is concerned. In the case of SimCity,...

Review: SimCity

Mar 08 // Joshua Derocher
SimCity (PC [reviewed], Mac)Developer: MaxisPublisher: Electronic ArtsRelease: March 5, 2013MSRP: $59.99 I really wanted to love this game, and my initial impressions were positive. I liked the way the screen looked, how detailed the city is, and how easy it is to access information. The graphics are modern and use hip things like tilt-shift and custom filters that make everything look like a photo from Instagram. The old full-screen graphs and charts have been replaced by easy to read overlays that match what you are currently doing. If you click on, for example, the police icon not only can you build new police stations, you can also see where your current stations are, how many crimes are committed in a day, and how many of those criminals you catch. Another good example is the road icon, which allows you to build or upgrade roads while letting you see what's currently going on with traffic. If you do feel the need to access more information, you can pick from around 20 different overlays that show stats ranging from hospital coverage, tourism income, property value, population density, to the location of natural resources like ore and oil. The biggest feature that has been talked about endlessly since SimCity was announced is the new road system, and yes the roads are cool. Power lines, sewage pipes, and water pipes have all been tied into roads, so now all you have to do is connect everything to a road and it works. It might seem like they are taking away control from the player, but I can't think of any reason why I would need to build a city and not give it all of these necessary things to function anyway. It makes building the city faster and easier, and I never felt like I was missing anything by not placing something like power lines manually. The roads can also be curved now, which is nice but it's not very efficient. The downside to the new road system is that zoning density is tied into what type of road you use. If you use little dirt roads, the building density is low. If you upgrade to a high-traffic avenue then you can expect skyscrapers and apartment buildings to grow near it. I found this to be annoying because if I had a traffic issue in an area that I wanted to be at a lower density, I was screwed. I had to choose between living with the traffic jams, or watching my suburban development turn into massive complexes. This is one instance where I wish I had more options and it's not game breaking, but it is annoying. My personal favorite feature is the way that everything has a sense of place and people actually exist. They really go to their jobs, they have to travel to school in order to become educated, and firetrucks need to drive to fires to put them out. You can watch as policemen chase down robbers, and if your city's traffic is a problem you can also watch as the robbers escape. SimCity has evolved past just graphs and numbers representing what's going on in your city, and it makes this really feel like a "next-gen" iteration of the series. Your hospital isn't just balancing out some impersonal number, it's treating sick people that you can see. Everything feels alive and connected, and it's fun to watch things happen. Individual buildings can be updated with small adjustments to make them more useful, which is a great way to make things better without only adding more buildings to your city. If crime is a problem you can add more police cars to the station, or add a prison expansion to increase the criminals you can detain. Schools can be expanded with new classrooms, casinos can add rooms to house more tourists, and public transportation can be upgraded by adding new buses to help reduce the wait. The game at its core is really good, almost great, but it's held back by some odd things that I still fail to understand. For starters, the map size is really small. I was able to fill it up after playing for only a few hours, and after that the only way to keep playing is to either start another city or increase the density until everything is a block of towers with traffic problems. I'm used to older SimCity games allowing me to create massive cityscapes, and this feels like a tiny fishbowl of a city. Server problems aside, this is the biggest problem with the game. After a few hours I was stuck and had nowhere to expand to. The reason behind the small map size could be technical, since I can understand if the way every citizen's life is actually simulated is very taxing on the system, but it could also be contributed to the fact that they want you to build up the region as well as the city. The second one seems more likely to me since everything else in the game tries to make you painfully aware of other cities and players.  A region is where your actual game is happening, and it can hold between three to fifteen cities, either controlled by you in a private session, with friends, or open to the public. Regions grow over time with buildings added to cities, such as headquarters for industry or education offices for the town hall. This unlocks better options for the city, and for the entire region. It's impossible to afford all of these buildings in one city, and they would probably take up half the map with their physical size. You have to play with more than one city, and that's rather annoying since only your active city is growing and fully functioning. It can take a long time to build up a few cities, and I would much rather create one mega-city than a handful of tiny cities anyway. Having to play in a region could be interesting, but it comes across as a cheap way to encourage multiplayer, or "enhanced online single-player," whatever that means. The concept is intriguing, but it doesn't really deliver in a strong enough way for me to be willing to sacrifice single-player or the ability to have one mega-city. In the open region I tried it soon became ruined by pollution and crime due to what other players were doing. One bad city can ruin everyone else's cities with its spread across the region, so I can't imagine ever looking to play with strangers online. I can only see myself playing with other people I know have a clear goal, how to play, and that we all can focus on cities that compliment each other. Good stuff can spread across the region, too. One city can volunteer fire trucks or police to other cities to help out, and it's even possible to create a giant trash town that is filled with giant dumps for everyone. It's an interesting idea, but it's somewhat flawed in the delivery. Since everything is happening on servers, and there are problems online you might lose trash coverage. I tried to see how well things worked across cities by trying to run two cities at once, and I found that it wasn't a reliable way to play the game. Things seemed to break. Workers failed to show up at their jobs in the city next door, water flow stopped at times, police didn't show up, and my city's education went downhill as they stopped getting on the bus to travel across the region. This could all be due to the server issues, or the game could actually be broken in this regard. Either way it's flawed. I felt like I should have been playing with other people, and it's difficult to play with one city alone. A single city is tiny and it can't do a lot. Eventually you run out of space and you can't upgrade any more without depending on resources coming from another city. Things like achievements, leader boards, and friend's lists are pushed to the foreground to try and convince me to play online. It seems like more of an issue to play alone than with others, and SimCity doesn't really need that. It could be cool, sure, but don't force it on me. I haven't come across anyone that wants this from the series, and the fact that the online portion of the game is broken makes it a complete nightmare. So many things felt out of my control and dependent on EA's servers, which is something that I could forgive if it actually worked the way it was supposed to. Sadly, it doesn't work very well at all. Over the past few days since launch, I've spent a good chunk of time trying to connect online. If I did manage to connect, the game would have issues interacting with the other cities in my region and sometimes I would lose entire cities due to things failing to be saved correctly. There isn't anything being saved locally on your computer, and their servers aren't up to the task of maintaining the load. I shouldn't have to deal with this to play in my own city alone. People are connecting the server issues to the similar bumpy ride that Diablo III experienced, but SimCity is definitely experiencing a much more terrible launch. If players waited for four hours they could connect to Diablo III, which is awful but at least you could play eventually. SimCity doesn't always have a login queue, so all you can do is exit and try relaunching the game again hoping that it will work. Even if you do manage to get online there is a good chance things will go wrong, and you might even lose your entire city due to a server crash. It's the worst launch I have ever experienced. Diablo III might have had a rough launch, but people had faith that Blizzard would be able to fix the server issues. I don't have that same faith in EA. Their current fix is disabling game features like achievements, leaderboards, and even removing the fastest game speed to try and alleviate the load on the servers. They are taking things away from us in order to fix their problem, and that's really unfortunate. I want to like this game, but there are a lot of things wrong with it. Maybe they'll fix the servers, and maybe people won't run into issues down the line. Maybe they'll make the maps bigger, and maybe they'll figure out a way to back up some key data onto your machine instead of on a broken server in space. The possibility is out there for this to be a really good game, but it's based on a lot of maybes. It's too many game breaking issues and too many problems. The constant DRM is an annoyance, but the real issue here is the fact that everything is happening online. SimCity has always been a single-player game, and now it's a fully online experience. Nothing is saved locally and when I lose my save game due to online issues it makes me cranky. I was desperately trying to get time in playing this week, not just because I am reviewing it, but also because it seemed like fun. I love games like this. All the time I spent playing on Tuesday was erased because of server issues. After trying to connect for hours this morning, I was shocked to find that my most recent saves were gone, and over six hours of playtime was wiped away. There is some promise for this to be a good game, but promise alone isn't enough. Even if they do manage to get their servers back online and functioning, I still know that if something goes wrong on their end I will lose all of my saved games. My cities are at the mercy of EA's servers and my Internet connection, and while there are some nice things to be found in SimCity, the need to always be online and feeling forced to play with other people ruins the experience.  I wanted to like this game, I really did. At first I started to enjoy it, but soon all I found was frustration. I can't recommend this game to anyone, and I don't want to play it anymore myself because I am afraid of seeing all my efforts lost due to server issues. It's a decent game if it worked right, but the online dependency, forced multiplayer, and DRM ruin it. 
SimCity review photo
The splines aren't reticulating
I love the SimCity series. I played the first one for countless hours growing up, and my younger years were filled with endless play sessions of SimCity 2000 and 3000. I wanted to like the latest SimCity. The visual style loo...

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No SimCity refunds on Origin


Anti-refund policy exposes the risk of buying digital
Mar 08
// Jim Sterling
If you are one of the many who purchased SimCity this week and found yourself unable to play it, you may feel like you were gypped out of $60 and want your money back. Unfortunately, while physical retailers might do the hono...

PSA: Don't buy SimCity until EA fixes the servers

Mar 07 // Joshua Derocher
(Even the ones that say "Available" are most likely having issues at this point) One of the biggest changes about the new SimCity is that the map size is smaller compared to past games, which I find disappointing. It's a really small map, and it's impossible to do everything with one city. There is a big push to focus the city on a specific thing, and to depend on other nearby cities for stuff like power, sewage treatment, or education. So I created a private region to test out having one city filled with industry, while another one focused on schools and tourism. This multi-city approach could work and compensate for the tiny map size, but with the current server issues I'm not sure how well this actually functions. My cities aren't saving correctly, which is making it hard to tell what's going on. My industrial city was setup to receive sewage waste and trash from my nicer residential city, and this seemed to work until the game refused to acknowledge that the other city was there. This caused a temporary backup of waste and trash, and all of my citizens starting yelling at me. Eventually the entire region reset to a save from a couple days ago, causing me to lose at least six hour of gameplay. It's disappointing that there is no option to play offline and have data saved on my machine instead, but if they can get the servers running correctly it might not be an issue. Sadly, it is an issue right now. I enjoyed my initial time, but I'm still undecided about my feelings on a lot of the design decisions. I am skeptical, but also hopeful that it could work, but it all depends on the servers running correctly.  There are multiple servers and EA is working on adding more, but the problem with this is that cities don't migrate across servers, meaning your saved games are stuck to the server you started them on. Even if today you decided "Hey, the European server isn't full, I'll play on that!" it won't matter. You could lose access to your cities once the new influx of players come in after the European release. I am fighting with the same connection issues that everyone else is facing. I have lost entire cities to server issues, and playing is almost completely impossible right now. Don't buy SimCity, not yet at least. The game isn't done, and you would be spending $60 to be a part of what boils down to a beta test for their servers. Save your money and see how things pan out. I have spent around forty hours in SimCity for our review and have had a good look at a lot of the features, but the networking issues are holding back my progress. I can't play, and neither can a lot of other people. This review is going to be for you, our readers, so what do you think would be fair? Should we review the game as it is, or wait and see if these server issues can be resolved?
SimCity server woes photo
Hold off on getting the game until our full review
Our review for SimCity is coming, but server issues are making the game unplayable. I'm sure you're already aware of the need to always be online to play, but it goes a lot deeper than just a DRM issue. Data isn't stored loca...

SimCity  photo
SimCity

EA will be adding more SimCity servers over next two days


'Non-critical' features disabled in the mean time
Mar 07
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
The SimCity launch has been pretty disastrous to say the least. My Twitter feed has been a constant stream of players experiencing connection issues, servers that won't save their cities, long queue times to get into a server...
Office Chat photo
Office Chat

Dead Space needs a break, SimCity launch woes and Thief!


Another casual discussion from the Dtoid news room
Mar 06
// Conrad Zimmerman
In another casual discussion from Dtoid's virtual news room, I'm joined by Jordan Devore and Spencer Hayes to discuss the deflated rumor of a Dead Space development hiatus (one we kind of wish were true). Plus, SimCity's rocky launch demonstrates once again that you can't count on anybody to successfully launch an online-only game and the gang discusses the recently announced Thief reboot.
SimCity server issues photo
SimCity server issues

SimCity players experience long waits to play


Single-player game ruined by online logins
Mar 05
// Joshua Derocher
SimCity was released today, and due to the controversial need to always be connected to EA's server in order to play people have been experiencing long waits just trying to get in. In order to play SimCity you have ...
SimCity photo
SimCity

Our SimCity review is coming soon


So watch this tutorial to hold you over
Mar 05
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
Those of you super obsessed with videogame news may have noticed some SimCity reviews are already up. Destructoid was given the same access as others to play the game before release on closed servers, but we're holding our r...
SimCity photo
SimCity

Oh hey, these SimCity ads are actually funny


"It's not all kissing hands and shaking babies."
Mar 03
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
Typically, when it comes to videogame ads at least, actors don't usually do a good job of promoting a game. That's not the case here with these SimCity ads, thankfully. Actor Adam Devine of Workaholics fame did a few promos for the game and they're all pretty funny. Fancy that. SimCity is out this week for the PC. Are you planning on picking it up?
SimCity photo
SimCity

Will Wright checks out the new SimCity


See what the father of the series thinks of the new take
Feb 27
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
Will Wright is a name you should all be familiar with, you know, seeing as he's the father of everything Sims. That of course includes the city building simulation titles, like Sim City. Will moved on from Maxis to run Stupi...
The Ville photo
The Ville

EA and Zynga have settled over The Ville lawsuit


It's over
Feb 15
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
The Electronic Arts and Zynga lawsuits against one another have both been dismissed. The two companies reached a settlement outside of court, and the specifics of the deal haven't been disclosed. Both companies issued a state...
Sim City second beta photo
Sim City second beta

The second SimCity beta starts on February 16


Heroes and Villains pack also announced
Feb 08
// Chris Carter
EA has shared the dates for the second SimCity beta -- 9AM on February 16, until 9AM on February 17. Wow EA, that's a pretty specific window! If you're interested in getting in, make sure you register before February 11 at 9...
SimCity photo
SimCity

SimCity works with real city planning models


The city builder works like the real world
Feb 01
// Joshua Derocher
SimCity just had it's first closed beta event and Norman Chan over at Tested decided to see how the game responded to real world city planning systems. It turns out the game responds really well to how things actually work. N...
SimCity photo
SimCity

SimCity will support cross-play between Mac and PC


Mac version coming out Spring 2013
Jan 29
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
Mac users will be able to get their hands all over SimCity starting this Spring. This isn't merely a port either, as Maxis is having a fully native version of the game built for the Mac OS. And best of all, there will be cro...

Your first city in SimCity will suck, and that's okay

Jan 25 // Hamza CTZ Aziz
[embed]240360:46047[/embed] SimCity (PC, Mac)Developer: MaxisPublisher: Electronic ArtsRelease: March 5, 2013 Multiple cities, all under your control One of the biggest changes with SimCity is that you're playing in different-sized regions, each with the possibility of creating multiple cities within. The lowest-tier region can hold three cities, while the biggest region can hold 16 cities. And to put doubt quickly to rest, you can play these maps all by yourself, or keep your regions public so anyone can jump in and work alongside you. That was the first thing that played against my sense of total world domination needs. Before, I could fill up every square inch of a map with whatever I wanted. Now, you're literally limited within a specifically sized zone for your city. None of the cities appear to be able to ever connect immediately against each other, so there will always be untouched open spaces where nature can thrive. Damn you, nature. I played for roughly six hours while at Maxis, and the more sucked into SimCity I became, the more I realized that I was okay with the idea of the multi-city concept. I didn't dabble too much with managing two cities within one region, but the possibilities intrigued me. My first city got pretty efficient by the end of my play time. With the more than plentiful resources I accumulated in my first city, I could focus on other endeavors in my second city as I fed it my excess resources. Jumping from city to city is an asynchronous deal, so time will stop in the cities you're not actively in until you switch back. You'll find that you want to manage multiple cities, as the more cash you can ultimately generate, the sooner you can build a great works site. Within the region is a specific spot near the middle where you can place an airport, space station, or even freaking arcologies (no it won't launch into space). Placing a great work isn't as simple as saving up and then having whatever you want built. With the arcologies in particular, after spending a million dollars on it, you're only developing the base feature. You'll need to research and put more funding into it to build it up. The rewards are worth it though, as these great sites will bring in more people and profits for all the cities in the region. Roads are your city's blood vessels The next major change that seriously messed up all my initial plans is the road system. One of the first things you need to do after building a power plant is place down a road system connecting to the highway running alongside your city limits. Without that connection, no one will be able to come live or generate revenue in your city. The roads also serve as your power lines, water pipes, and waste management system now, providing three additional vital services for your citizens basic needs at no extra charge. Roads are so important, that I have to spend a couple of more paragraphs on them. I'm not even going to touch on the fact that roads can be curvy now, either! There are several types of roads that you can place, and it actually really matters what you use. You can do anything from a dirt road, to a multi-lane heavy density road system. Once you've placed your roads, you can then set up either residential, commercial, or industrial zones. Zones can't be placed unless they're directly connected to a road. And if you destroy a road, the zones/buildings will get destroyed automatically alongside it. The good news there though is that it actually doesn't cost anything to place down any of the zones now. So the roads and zones have to go hand-in-hand, and the type of road you place affects the type of zone you will get. Want a huge skyscrapper? Cool, but it's not going to happen so long as your zone is alongside a dirt road. The higher density road you place, the more higher-tier buildings you'll get. Plus, to get bigger buildings, you have to leave some open space between the zone and adjacent roads. Making that money This is where I was screwing up the most, and didn't really realize what my issue was until I paid closer attention to the helpful tips I was getting from my city's workers. You'll see plenty of messages from your citizens that will fill in what your current needs are, and you can do what they ask to keep your city happy. Or you can just ignore them, bleed the city dry of its natural resources, and then fund another city in the region to create a better town. Whatever you want! Each city offers sources of natural resources, such as coal and ore. You have to specialize in something, so you can choose to pillage nature for profits, or focus on generating revenue through casinos or electronics manufacturing. One way to do it would be to suck up all the coal, and then once that's all gone, you can just destroy the coal plants and replace them with casinos. It's your city -- exploit it as much as you wish. I went with focusing on being a coal city, and immediately placed down my plant in the first spot I saw with coal. Later I would regret this decision once I bothered exploring my city limits more in-depth through the data layer and stats that the game presents to you. After an hour, I found a much better location for a coal plant I could have run with. You're free to do whatever you want within your means, I'm just such a heavy planner type and was annoyed at my bad choices when I saw I could have created a better overall design. Not that it really mattered, though -- by this point, I still hadn't figured out the importance of the road density. That's the joy of these type of games, however. You do, you learn, and then you do again but better. So yeah, my first city totally looked like Godzilla barf, but by the end of it, I made notes of my mistakes and will be doing things differently next time around. Speaking of Godzilla and the end, right before I had to finish playing SimCity, I had unlocked my first disaster attack, which was a giant lizard. The giant lizard may make you think of Spore, and that's because it was totally made in the creature creator of Maxis's last big game. The monster was modeled in Spore, and then the SimCity team created a version of the creature within their game world. [embed]243049:46531:0[/embed] No reticulating splines here While I can deal with the major changes I detailed above, one thing I'm not happy about is the limits of the city. I'm not even talking about the city size restrictions, which I feel should be bigger than what you're given overall. No, what I'm sad about is that you can't actually alter the land with the trusty bulldozer tool anymore. Before, I could lower or raise any land mass I wanted, create lakes, plant trees, or completely reticulate splines! Now everyone is forced to play on the pre-determined worlds. Speaking with lead producer Kip Katsarelis, he told me that "the goal with the regions was to create these crafted experiences. We wanted to give players a new challenge to overcome in each one of these maps that we create." A good example of what Kip is talking about is creating a road system along a mountain. You can't just place roads up a mountain side, as there are some parts that would be too steep. You have to explore a little and find the best way, if any, to place the road against the mountain. On the bright side though, Maxis is open to the modding community, and eventually modding tools will be made available after release. We'll be able to reticulate splines one day, just not at launch. The bottom line There were a lot of changes, and while it was weird at first, I'm ready to get lost in a SimCity again. There's so much going on here, and I barely scratched the surface of all the things that can happen within the game. I didn't even touch on the Global Market economy, the multiplayer challenges, how you can customize and upgrade individual buildings, and so on. On the bright side, you won't have to wait long to find out for yourself all the new stuff you can do. There's a lot of changes, but at its core, SimCity still has that classic feel that made it so addictive back in the day. Of course, none of this matters if Electronic Arts were to shut down SimCity's servers. SimCity can't be played without being connected constantly online (yes, even if you just play by yourself). While EA is well known for shutting down inactive online servers, Kip did tell me Maxis would look at options if the time were to ever come to let players continue playing. Not exactly a guarantee, but it's better than believing that one day you're going to have a broken game. It's easy to see why so many people were turned off by SimCity when the always-on requirement was revealed, but despite that, I will still be getting Maxis's latest. The new SimCity is such an engaging, charming, and addictive experience that for the time being, I'm not too worried about what could possibly happen in the future.
SimCity hands-on photo
It's all about the roads
One of the very first games I ever owned that truly showed me the joy of gaming was SimCity 2000 for the Mac. I lost hours of my life managing the shit out of my various towns, altering the land to best serve my capitalist ne...


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