Review: Sim City 4 + Why You Should Skip Sim City 2013

A few years ago I got SimCity 4 and its expansion Rush Hour as part of a set with three other SimCity games at Best Buy for $20. That Bundle is The Sim City Box. This review, however is specifically for Sim City 4. After the review I will explain why you should NOT buy the soon to be released Sim City game.

On to the review:

Sim City 4.

The last Sim City you will ever need to buy. People will argue ’till the cows come home between SC3 and SC4 which is the better game. The release of SC4’s expansion Rush Hour gave it the epic win. For those who have never played a Sim City Game shame on you. Luckily, SC4 has a beginner-friendly tutorial. I got the Deluxe Edition, which gives you both the game and Rush Hour together. The Sim City games as well as The Sims are famous for the simple fact there is no end. You just keep playing, which is exactly the point.

Almost forgot: Before I go any further, let me introduce you to the creative genius who gave us Sim City and its successor, The Sims:

You deserve to know his name and face. Former Nintendo President Shiguru Miyamoto even gave him a Nintendo DS Lite signed by him when the system launched. Wright confirmed in an interview after The Sims 2 was released he did get the one of a kind handheld as a gift from Miyamoto. Like Sid Meier (of whom Wright has the utmost respect for) and Hideo Kojima, Wright’s name carries alot of weight in the video game inudstry.

..It’s for that reason I’m hoping Will follows Kojima’s example by leaving EA and starting an independent company. I’m already a bit off topic so I’ll explain for those who don’t know. About seven years ago Hideo Kojima left Konami and started his own company, taking the rights to the Metal Gear Solid Games with him. The MGS games are still publiahed through Konami but Kojima retains the rights to the game. The reason I’m mentioning that is Wright originally founded Maxis so that he could do his own thing. The problem is about ten years ago Maxis merged with EA, which is notorious for putting profit before quality.

A look at the new SimCity game will tell you the good times are now a thing of the past. Anywho we’ll get to that in a bit but back to SC4.

SC4 is a dramatic departure from its predecessors. The biggest reason is The Region Map. Unlike past games in which you focus on building just one city, the best way–and perhaps the most efficient way–to succeed in SC4 is to build multiple connecting cities. This brings me to point number 2: Once you’ve connected two cities be either road, rail, Sewage or power line they can effect or influence each other in certain ways. In this way you’re essentially playing the entire region and that is exactly the point. Many special buildings require multiple cities to unlock so…yeah.

For those new to the Sim City games the Tutorials tell you everything you need to know to succeed. The budgeting tutorial is especially important as that is the number one reason people fail: They spend more than they take in, max out the loans and fall into debt soon afterward. Speaking of loans: If you’re at the point where you have to take out your first loan you’re already in over your head. The interest rate will kill you if you were already on the verge of entering a spending deficit.

Before SC4 I played SimCity 2000 (Awesome game btw). SC4 allows you to micro-manage every aspect of your cities. You can even adjust funding per building instead of all at once if you prefer. Rush hour adds new transportation options to the game as well as Missions. Missions are unlocked as soon as a specific specialty building is placed in your city–for example a Police Station (Police Car) or Fire Station (Fire Truck). You’re offered two types of missions at once: One to increase your mayoral rating, the other purely for money. Be wary of taking money-making missions as they will usually require you to do things that will lower your mayoral rating. Of course your rating will suffer if you fail the mission or don’t finish it in time so…yeah.

Overall I give Sim City 4 + Rush Hour a 10/10. Knowing what I do about the new SimCity automatically increases the value of SC4. If you get into SC4 I would recommend Civilization IV and for more on THAT game, see my review XD

…Now that I’ve reviewed SC4 let’s get back to the new SimCity.

First and foremost the game costs $60. Second, it requires an internet connection. Even for single player. Unlike Civilization V (which also requires an internet connection and a Steam Account to play offline) you can’t even save and reload the game. Why? Because the game is hosted on EA’s servers. Basically you’re paying $60 to rent the game.

I’m gonna pause for a minute and explain something since I’ve seen people on the game’s product pages on Amazon and other places draw comparisons between it and MMOs like WoW and SW:ToR. World of Warcraft is an MMORPG. Azaroth (and Outland) is an online world and everyone who pays for the game, expansions and the monthly (or quarterly or bi-annual) subscription knows their subscription is their lease with Blizzard, allowing them to play for the duration of the subscription. Their license allows them to play the game as much as they want for the duration of the subscription. They can play with one character or make the 50 allowed per license. They can make 11 characters on one server or they can make 1 one 50 different servers of they want. They’re free to do that if they want.

The fundamental difference between WoW and SimCity 2013 again is one is an MMO and the other one isn’t. Unlike Civ V (whose forced online has more to do with Firaxis’ parthership with Steam than anything else and is not overly invasive) SC2013’s online only is a dramatic departure from the franchise’s history. The whole game is on EA’s servers. Even the save file. You’re basically buying a client with which to play single player online. While Civ V also has forced online you are actually buying/downloading the full game to your Hard Drive.

EA’s poorly explained reason for this is once again piraters. Had they done the same as Civ V I would have bought this game. What EA is doing takes things too far. I can only wonder if Wright had a say in any of this as all of these changes are pretty extreme. I suspect he either didn’t or didn’t have a choice.

Regardless, the best thing you can do to show you’re against this is to NOT buy the game. We don’t need EA thinking they can get away with doing this again down the road. I preordered Star Carft II: Heart of the Swarm so it’s not like I won’t be getting a new PC game next month. If you’re looking for an alternative to SC2013, get SC4 + Rush Hour. If you already have it, try Civilization IV. If you have both like I do, try The Sims 3. Got that too? I’ll have to get back to you then.

 

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5 Responses to Review: Sim City 4 + Why You Should Skip Sim City 2013

  1. dew111 says:

    For one, Will Wright had nothing to do with SC2013.

    Secondly, SC4 is buggy, and very slow as it does not take advantage of multi-core processing.

    I don’t like what EA is doing with DRM and abandoning steam (in fact, I haven’t played ME3 yet because I didn’t want Origin), but they are going to make big bucks with or without your business. The only one missing out is you. This game looks good enough to make me install Origin, and as long as the servers are reliable (which I know is a big if), I couldn’t care less about the DRM.

    • brendan2k5 says:

      I intentionally left this out of the blog but I beta’d the game. And if you found SC4 buggy try upgrading your computer.

      SC4 plays just fine on the 7-year old laptop I own and aside from some replacement work done I’ve never done any major upgrades on it (OS is Windows 7).

      I did my homework before I wrote this blog.

      The primary reason they’re releasing the game this way is because of DRM. And you’re right of course the game is going to sell because how much money they’ve pumped into advertising the game. The point I made crystal clear is they’re not getting my money. It’s how you show you don’t like what’s being offered.

    • brendan2k5 says:

      I intentionally left this out of the blog but I beta’d the game. And if you found SC4 buggy try upgrading your computer.

      SC4 plays just fine on the 7-year old laptop I own and aside from some replacement work done I’ve never done any major upgrades on it (OS is Windows 7).

      I did my homework before I wrote this blog.

      The primary reason they’re releasing the game this way is because of DRM. And you’re right of course the game is going to sell because how much money they’ve pumped into advertising the game. The point I made crystal clear is they’re not getting my money. It’s how you show you don’t like what’s being offered.

      • dew111 says:

        So, SC4 works fine until your city gets to a certain size, above which it will occasionally crash and otherwise run very slowly. I used to get cities with population over 1 million, at which point it is basically impossible to play. There may have also been issues because I would use mods (but without the mods, the transportation was completely broken in SC4, even with rush hour). I have seen other reviews mentioning how buggy SC4 was, so I know it’s not just me. Newer computers seem to have more issues.

        I commend your ideals, but honestly, I played it last night, and the DRM didn’t get in the way at all. I know that’s not your reason for skipping this version, but it’s a very very pretty game. I’m at work right now, and I’m doing my best not to leave to play it more.

  2. Pingback: The Sims: Yet another franchise destroyed by EA | Aurabolt's Game Blog

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