SimCity, the highly popular city simulation series, has returned after a 10 year break (the last main game was SimCity 4 released in January 2003) and has done so in style. The new SimCity is so complex, intelligent and spectacular that you will be surprise the game engine can handle such an amount of processes at once. Although bogged by server issues, our review will concentrate on ONLY the game, because the issues will be gone within a week or two, at most.

SimCity uses a new ‘GLASSBOX’ engine to achieve its amazingly complicated and sophisticated gameplay along with full 3D graphics, online co-operative multiplayer and the ability to render each and every Sim, car, business and building separately all in the world at one time. It was explained that this was once not the case, in the old game, these were a pre-made overlay on the city and hence could not truly and accurately morph due to the environment.

First off, I’d like to mention the on-going server issues. In North America, the launch was plagued with issues regarding connection to the server. SimCity requires an always-on connection to the internet (ie. the game cannot be played offline while no internet access is available). Maxis and EA did not deploy enough servers for the game in time for launch as they did not anticipate the number of players who were going to purchase the game and attempt to connect. I must also point out that I have experienced almost no server issues over here in Europe since launch, so, this possibly may only effect US users. Many US users cannot play the game and EA are doing as much as the can to fix this, also offering a free game as compensation. This review does not take into account any on-going server issues and assumes the game is functioning at 100%.

The game allows you to invite friends to your world and setup cities close to your own. This marks the first time an online mode has been present in SimCity and I will say, it adds a HUGE amount to the gameplay. Playing in offline mode is very slow and making your city bigger and bigger takes a LONG time. In comparison, playing with friends allows your companions to lend resources, tourists, jobs and services to your region and vice-versa. This really assists in speeding up development in both your city and the city of your friend.

In previous SimCity games, problems in your city would make Sims unhappy and some would leave. This would all occur behind the scenes and the figure adjustments would be ESTIMATED. As stated above, since every Sim in SimCity is now an individual entity, each one can be tracked in happiness level and there is an on-screen visualisation of each Sim getting more and more dissatisfied with your city. It may not sound like a lot here, but when you see it in game, you will see how much of a radical difference it makes to the gameplay formula and level of realism.

Each world in SimCity is called a REGION. Within in each region are a number of CITIES, each of which can be controlled by either yourself (by ‘claiming’ them) or your friends who are invited to the game. The cities are a lot smaller than you might have imagined them to be and you WILL not have enough space to build all the features and ‘specialisations’ you want to build, you will likely only be able to build one specialisation in your city. This is where the idea of multiple cities per region come in… your friends (or you, if you wish) will create more cities, each specialising in a different field. Examples are things such as mining, oil drilling, electronics, tourism and gambling.

The interface is also a strong point for the game. A variety of MAPS showing tech level, land values, education, building density and much much more are all available from the UI as an overlay on the world, giving a strong indicator of whatever information you may require in-game. Residential, industrial and commercial ZONES are set-out by the player and Sims automatically move in and create buildings in the space. Graphs will show the demand for each type of zone in your region.

To conclude the review, SimCity is not as you may have remembered it. The vast changes implemented in the game by amazing developers Maxis, the online features, the multiple connected cities and new, intuitive UI are all features which make the new SimCity far more sophisticated, enjoyable and real than previous iterations in the series of game. I thoroughly recommend the title