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Review of Sim City after server stabilization
It's been a long ten years since a new simcity came out and during that wait I would pop in the old simcity 4 into my disc drive once in awhile to play it. Sure it's an old game but there's a reason why I still go back to it. There was no game in existence that was anything like the simcity series. There was just something that kept me playing, it could have been watching my city grow before my eyes or wanting that brand new shiny nuclear power plant (even with the risky meltdown), either way, that game kept me going for hours. So now we finally see the successor to this amazing series, but does it live up to the name? Short answer is yes..... Technically.
The first thing to talk about is the gameplay. The game is quite amazing in theory and it's still a joy to watch as your buildings reconstruct themselves into these massive towers making your skyline the envy of new York city. They have simplified the gameplay to a crazy degree from sim city 4, no longer do you have to lay out pipes or connect power lines, as long as everything is connected to the road, they'll get their resources from the various structures. They also make it so it's impossible to "plop" anything down without a sufficient amount of road next to it. A feature that I found very useful was the shape tools that go with the road tool. It lets you draw either straight, box, curve, circle or you can just freestyle it. The grid is practically gone and instead they'll give you guide lines depending on your last highlighted road. Even with simplified gameplay, this game is actually still quite complex though not from an obvious point of view. No longer can you build a massive mega city in one region using a massive plot of land. Every plot of land is equal in size do if you want more area to use, you have to look for the flattest terrain which could also mean a sacrifice in resources meaning you'd have to import your shortcomings.
Other things that seem important
Here I'm going to talk about everything else before gameplay with the servers. The graphics are quite nice with great shadowing and water effects but this solely depends on a person's own computer to get the most out of it. I had most of the settings on high with shadows on medium and the game looked beautiful. However, there were the occasional screen tares and if your city becomes congested enough, zoomin out might make the occasional building disappear here and there. Zooming in however, is quite a treat since you get to see your citizens going about their business and do some micromanagement. As for the sound, it's not by any means breakthrough but it's kind of different from previous sim city games and promotes more of an upbeat tone. Most of the time you will hear an acoustic guitar theme while in city play. Overall in all technical aspects, it's a game that's pleasing to the senses that it engages in.
Gameplay with servers (drm)
Now I know there is allegedly (or really) a hack to pretty much make the game single player but for the majority of owners, this game is going to have to be played with drm. So in talking about drm, well it just completely destroyed the game. This is not because of some argument as to whether or not it helps combat piracy but more because it seriously broke the game. Ea and maxis have tried really hard to make this a multiplayer game and it shows. This is not always a good thing since as said before, city plots are now smaller. This game emphasizes multiplayer play to a higher degree than previous games, and it's probably a bigger thing than single player. Like I said before, no mega cities so it is almost impossible now to make your city have every specialty. Most of the time you just run out of space for increasing your population who make the majority of your income. This leads to the use of multiplayer. You need to have more than one city to help acquire things whether it be tourists, shoppers, or commuters who would work in your otherwise empty factories and businesses. Other cities are also there to help with natural resources, Specialties like electronics or alloys, university majors and research, and finally with government departments. The latter two is extremely or maybe even impossible to acquire all of just because of the sheer cost it would take on upkeep them in one city. Theres also great works that connected cities can work on which are massive projects out in the region that cost a lot of cash and a lot of resources as well as the research that goes into it sometimes. Now this is where multiplayer really comes in, however, it isn't entirely necessary. You can allocate resources slowly to a great work if you wanted to but it's much faster to build if two cities were active and doing it. That's really all there is to the multiplayer. You only need other players in order to speed things up but in reality, you can build a successful region all by yourself. My guess is that it's more fun with other people but there's really no way to communicate with another player unless you use a third party program or use origin to chat which isn't too great. Finally, there are the server problems that came with the game at the start. This game was a massive failure at launch, but not as much as people think. I had no problems in the first three days or so because I just basically went to the Europe west server when the North America servers were being hammered and it worked like it was supposed to. Then once everyone started complaining about the servers, ea kept shutting the game down and there were many instances where I lost a lot of progress which annoyed me to no end. I even lost an entire city because the servers just refused to load it. Finally there was the problem with server hopping. Ea told everyone to just simply change to another server if their own wasn't working. The problem with that though is that everytime someone started on a different server, they would have to go through the mandatory tutorial again. It was extremely tedious. By now the servers are all fixed and everything is hunky dory so the game is now significantly better although I still don't see the use of drm.
I will score this game using two scores, the first is the score at launch and the second is the score I currently give it and it's final score.
Launch score 3/6
This game depended a lot on DRM and that seriously broke it. There was a lot of potential but overall it was unmet because of the servers.
Present score 5/6
It's a great game but it's multiplayer doesn't seem to have a lot of direction. Also cities being in such small plots gives opportunities to be innovative but can also be quite frustrating when trying to expand. Not to mention once your connection drops, a lot of hard work you put in could be lost. In the end, it's still a great game, just that it might not be worth it for some people to buy it full price.