SimCity Preview -- Keep Your Hooligans Out of My Town!By Eric Ecstein - Posted Jun 05, 2012
SimCity has been one of the great strategy/simulation games of our time, and it’s about time we got another version off the ground with SimCity. Yes, the core game seems similar to past iterations, with players building residential districts for housing or firehouses to protect them, but there are a few noticeable differences.
First of all, the look of the game powered by the new Glassbox engine is sharp with new 3D graphics, which are more than aesthetically pleasing. For example, now you’ll be able to pick out a neighborhood rocked by crime because windows will be boarded up or graffiti will be on the houses--or you’ll see your Sims stuck on the road via a traffic jam.
Also, now that SimCity will include finite resources, you can tell at a glance how much coal is less in your coal plant or if a factory is producing exportable products--so that you can make longer term decisions about your city.
Beyond graphical updates, control was an important milestone for the Maxis team to resolve. Using a simple rubber-banding technique, you can lay down power lines versus plopping them down in previous titles; stretch them too far, they’ll break, stopping your attempts to power the area. You can also now design curved roads, so you can create a more realistic looking environment. Since SimCity is all about creating YOUR city, all these additions are a move in the right direction.
Our favorite moment of the demo was when a van with flames painted upon it rolled into town. Heavy metal blaring from the car stereo; we knew this guy was trouble. This is the Arsonist, and he likes showing up at buildings, hopping out and setting fires. We watched him do just that before tearing off out of town, our problem was that we didn’t have our fire station set up yet!
A few clicks later, we constructed one and saw a new element to SimCity: Editable buildings. Want a more powerful power plant? Buy an additional generator which produces more power and consumes more coal onto the existing building. You’ll be able to unlock new elements, which will allow more creative design decisions as well as modifications that will change the benefits of your structures.
While we’re still waiting to understand exactly how multiplayer will work with the game, it is interesting to hear bits and pieces from the developers. We know specialization with cities will be important to help cities benefit from one another, and that there will be leaderboards and achievements included. There are very different ways to ‘win’ at SimCity. In our demo, we saw two very different approaches: 1) a blue collar town situated on a coal mine, and 2) a city built on the backs of tourism - both working together to get an international airport off the ground that will benefit each city.
While we’re still a ways from February 2013 when SimCity is released, we’re excited about the potential. How the multiplayer truly works remains to be seen, something we’ll get a look at during show… but any game that lets us rain our pollution on neighbors, thanks to its use of real wind maps featured in the game, has gotta be a good one. Right?