Hands On: SimCity

By Cara Ellison on February 7th, 2013 at 3:00 pm.

Almost too tranquil.

As SimCity nears release (March 8th in the UK), we sent natural born mayor Cara Ellison to sit down with the game for a day. She recreated inner-Scotland.

I dreamed of marching into EA HQ in a black pencil dress and high heels and Malcolm Tuckering all my consonants: “ALL RIGHT EA. RUIN MY CHILDHOOD. COME ON. RUIN IT.”

As it is, I stumbled into EA covered in doughnut crumbs wearing a bedraggled jumper dress and giant wooly socks and then squeaked “Hi I’m Cara hi can I see Simcity please.”

The expectation was that I’d arrived to entirely Nick Clegg my memories of Simcity 2000, the last time I’d played and truly enjoyed a Sim[insert noun here] game. My brain sloshed with cynicism, oozed elegy out of my earholes. But as I was guided into a cloistered room of PCs and left to gently sink into strategy mode I started to thaw a little. A nice PC and a few calm hours of geek vernissage, I was a woman who had to have a mouse forcibly removed from her hand. Only two lugubrious samosas were left for lunch by the time I went to get some. I decided to name a city “lugubrious samosa” as I grumbled back to my desk.

The moment my mind collided with Simcity’s new Glassbox engine: a little moment a way into the tutorial. I planted my first power station on the ground in the dead of night. The network of familiar residential, commercial and industrial districts laid between roads slowly lit up and their little lights spread across the dark, like screeds of tiny fireflies awaking in a wave across the map. The power station made a noise like a heart beat. Every layer of information in this game visually ebbs and flows – living infographics. Click for a layer showing water actively pumping across the city in neat blobs, another for brown blobs showing where your sewage is going, and one a living bar chart indicating how your population is growing denser, thicker in different areas. Each new fluctuating overlay – of which there are so many – has you feel almost as if you are watching a body grow up, change, and take shape into an adult before you. The music has a pulse that indicates when things are happening in time to events. You can trace all of your residents’ journeys to and from work; click them to find out where they have been (stressful day at work) where they are going (to rob a warehouse) and you can wait to see what happens next (unceremoniously shot by cop in front of mini mart).

The essential arteries? Roads. The prevailing memory I have (besides the adorable midi music) of SimCity 2000 were the little cars on each road tile, eternally driving off the edge of the tile and popping back into existence at the start of it. We have journeyed a long way since then: you can zoom in and follow every car to its destination now thanks to Glassbox’s agent simulation. In SimCity 2000, roads were merely a simple tool that would ensure the consecutive three blocks would be populated according to your choice of light, medium or dense residential, commercial or industrial sites. In this new iteration, it is the roads themselves that you upgrade to affect density of your population. You can choose low, medium or high density roads at accruing expense – avenues or single dirt tracks as you please. In turn, your districts will fill up as designated by the road capacity. This is a nice idea – and adds interesting strategy – however it becomes fiddly to upgrade in the later game, where you wish you could just drag over and upgrade whole areas. It might take a little more skill for me to master the nuance of when and how to upgrade. But as Kip Katsarelis, the Senior Producer on the game said, mastering the perfect size of districts and layout of roads is for the “min-maxers”, and I immediately remembered how long it took me to figure out how to min-max Simcity 2000. Friendless NERD, I thought to myself. You sacrificed kissing boys for min-maxing. You could have been min-maxing faces.

There’s been some concern about the size of the new SimCity maps. It is true they are smaller, and therefore fill up more quickly – but they are more difficult to game, and more intricate with it. It is a delicate ecosystem. Part of the reason I think they are smaller is that the direction of the game is towards regions – not the maximisation of one sole city. In a region map, there are other spots to build cities in, and an additional Great Work spot in which to cultivate a landmark city such as – yes! – an Arcology of yore. So you can breathe life into a whole region, creating each city with distinct and differing personalities that supply each other with trade and workers, or volunteering extra resources. Specialisations in education, entertainment, mining or other industries such as tourism are available to upgrade to so that each region has a variety of cities that are all different. I have a particular fetish for online communities: games that bring people together to work together and make their own narratives. SimCity seems like it has a wonderful capacity to develop that sort of community, barring EA’s servers imploding (I am Cara’s increased sense of foreboding).

I asked Kip Katsarelis (Senior Producer with a calming Lloyd Grossmanesque lilt) why they chose to make the maps smaller. “There were a few factors that went into this decision. Clearly there had to be a limited at some point due to technical constraints. The amount of detail in the world meant that there were both graphical and computational constraints to adhere to. Game design was the other reason. Putting limits to the boundaries meant that players would have to make decisions about how they built their cities. Space is a resource and something real city planners need to think about when planning a city. We wanted to bring that decision making into this SimCity and make it a core part of the gameplay. There are countless ways and combinations to build cities and combinations of cities. Do I build a dump in my beautiful vacation hot spot or can I have my neighbouring city take care of my garbage problem? My neighbouring city has a bustling shopping district, this means I can focus my city on industry. Great games are made up by a few simple rules.”

Let’s talk metagame. I began on a private map, single player. My first ‘city’ I named Falkirk (a small joke for the Scottish readers there – it is a peely-wally town) and mostly sent all my garbage to the nearby second city of Aberdeen, which was meant to be a city specialising in oil but I never actually dug much up (SATIRE). Aberdeen became a fairly smelly city because I kept sending rubbish there (that’s for IDing me at Alaska bar when I was 14 you narks) and I imagined that seagulls the size of bloodhounds were roaming the streets there, picking at half-eaten chips. Halfway through play I got a message informing me that “Aberdeen has too many uneducated kids. Put some bus stops in your city so your kids can go to school in Falkirk.” This made me titter far more than is actually necessary, as did “Falkirk has a health problem. You should build a clinic and volunteer extra ambulances to Falkirk.” You fat wee macaroni pie addicts. It was at this point I noted in dismay that I hadn’t used the new ‘curvy’ and ‘roundabout’ tools to draw roads that spelled out ‘bawbag’ or something to that effect. They’ll never let me back into Scotland now.

For the multiplayer, it is possible to collaborate with other players on a region, making cities to help each other out – or not, as may be the case. I decided to join another journalist’s region (hurr) and start building towards making a Great Work, so I cranked the speed up to Cheetah and got started on a city. Halfway through, I decided to take a visit to his city. To my ultimate dismay, he’d made a beautifully laid out city in the shape of a massive tightly-curled swirl fanning out from his Town Hall. It was a masterpiece. I went back to my city ‘Carasville’ – a badly laid out patchwork mess of super wealthy citizens overburdened with tennis courts and fountain parks – and immediately began plans to send some sloppy sewage to him. I can’t remember if I achieved it, but if some journalist’s preview appears on another site about some woman journalist with bad spatial awareness (poss colour blindness) piping sewage into his city: I am truly sorry. I was just jealous of your swirly.

For me, one of the most interesting aspects of SimCity is its political, sociological edge. A lot of the decisions, such as the class system – low wealth citizens, medium wealth citizens, and high wealth citizens – and the fact that Sims commit more crimes the less educated they are, suggest an element of sociological research. I asked Kip if the SimCity dev team consulted particular sources for these.

“We looked at what was going on in the world around us and wanted to bring these social and economic issues into SimCity. We had many sources of reference at our disposal including books, documentaries, the Internet, and more. There has been lots of research done that shows the relationships between criminal activity and education levels. There are studies that show the types of crimes change based on criminals with higher education, that the crimes go from more violent types of crimes to white collar crimes. This is why in SimCity, you start to get white collar crimes (embezzler) in your city when you have education and business, but lack proper police coverage. Crime in SimCity was one of our deeper social systems we researched, but there are many others including wealth levels, education, health, and happiness.”

I was also concerned about the always online nature of this game, as I assume many of you are, so I asked EA the following questions: The always online nature of SimCity seems to imply that once EA stop maintaining SimCity servers the game will stop being accessible. Does this mean consumers should consider that SimCity has a limited life expectancy? What if the EA servers are overloaded or go down for any reason? They replied:

“I can’t speak to what the future may hold. What I do know is that EA has shown that where there are active communities playing a game, they will maintain the servers. Spore servers are still up to this day. We are looking at this SimCity as a live service and something we plan to support after launch with new content, polish and everything that goes with a live service. Maxis and EA have been in online gaming for a long time and have some of the best people and infrastructure in the business to ensure our servers are stable at launch.”

I’m still cynical. EA have shut down servers for Mercs 2 and LOTR, Fifa and The Sims 2 in favour of newer or more populated titles. Here is the catch: this game is good. It’s in your interests, as PC gamers, to participate in this game and its multiplayer options, because it is entertaining, solid, engaging in its systems and interfaces. It is a pleasurable thing to take part in, and I think really adds something to the gaming landscape. But are you willing to have EA arbitrate when and for how long you can play this after you have paid your money? I think only you as a consumer can answer that. That is the position they are putting us in.

At Beta, SimCity seems like a beautifully constructed, intricate and engaging city sim that is made a pleasure to play by the intuitive interfaces. In fact, the interface and the way the information about your city is displayed is what really makes this experience one that you could drift into for hours. In many ways, games are at their best when they show you how you have impacted a world, and it is incredibly satisfying to see the breathe of your city in a hundred different layers and aspects. The only thing I am worried about is the longevity of it: not only because you have to be always online to play even a private single-player game, but because SimCity is often so soothing in its manner that the lack of drama or surprise sometimes has my mind wander elsewhere… Where did I put that old Smiths album? This Sim is hungry – so I am – I wonder what I could cook for dinner? Oh balls someone has moved out of that house, I’d better lower the taxes.

All is calm of course, until I remember to unleash a monster or meteor shower on my city and delight in setting things on fire. Reticulate those splines, you whining rich tax-dodgers!

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260 Comments »

  1. acheron says:

    Damn you EA.

    I like how the rep says “EA still has Spore servers up” like that’s something we should be grateful for. Spore is, what, 5 years old? On the other hand I ran Simcity 2000 a few months ago, and that was released almost 20 years ago. If SC2K needed a server to run I don’t think it would still be up.

    Unfortunately Cara is right that the game looks very good. I’m probably going to buy it, but I’ll bitch about it on the Internet first.

    • DickSocrates says:

      Or you could show some restraint and not buy it. No?

      • LeonardNimoysHead says:

        Unfortunately, this only encourages piracy. It won’t take any longer than a month — two at the outside — until somebody is able to simulate EA’s servers to allow offline or LAN play.

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          AndiK says:

          Well, why shouldn’t you first buy the game for real moneys, enjoy it as long as the original servers are running and THEN switching to the obviously inevitable server emulators by the piraty people?

          I admit, it seems like a bit of a hassle, but in the end you’d be Morally Enriched(TM) for paying for a good game. :)

          • Sic says:

            That doesn’t make a lick of sense.

            If you give them money, you are telling them “yes, sir, I love taking it up the ass”.

          • socrate says:

            Basically what Sic said…reallly piracy should be used as a tool for expressing your against stuff that happened to the game…if you don’t buy it…they don’t even notice you really…and if you buy it and then pirate it…well that is just stupid as hell you might aswell not do anything since all they will see in their graph is that there is a load of people that still buy but a bunch that still pirate it and really they wont care at this point that much cause they made good money and people said they wanted to play it.

            Is it just me or are people in general extremely stupid and never think the consequence of their action.

            also this article isnt that great really its trying to be on both side and the game itself hasn’t evolved at all or introduced something new and interesting…oooh wow nice UI….so all you’re asking basically is a nice interface and a revamp of city in motion…wow thats asking alots.

            The game could have gone and implemented a tons of new thing and yet it just copied an old game with a cleaner UI ,with different graphic style and this review make me totally doubt the credibility on RPS today…this isn’t a review its just a way to make more sale out of a watered down experience that doesn’t offer anything new and interesting to the building simulation gamer.

            There is a reason EA suck…its not purely out of people hating them just to hate them…they hurt the gaming industry in a really strong way…no they aren’t the only one but they are a big part of the problem in that they keep dumbing them down or quite simply just painting over them and making the same unimaginative game over and over again with next to no improvement and the improvement that are made are taken from other game without even trying a few thing and just going with what they know…and that is basically graph on profit because thats what EA is…a bunch of suit that are there to make money and exploit the addiction people have and hope of people have…

            and people have extremely low expectation these days sadly and tend to satisfy themself with poor illusion.

          • MellowKrogoth says:

            Server emulators are illegal now in the US if they weren’t before. Blizzard has won several court cases against people writing this kind of tool.

            So you’re basically asking someone to risk jail so you can play your game offline. And you still want to encourage online-only games by paying for your game.

          • Redkid says:

            Because the US contains the only pirates and coders in existence.

          • Vercinger says:

            Anyone who pays for it is supporting this online only bullshit. And that encourages publishers to do it again. No matter how good a game is, if it tries to punish you for buying it, it shouldn’t be supported.

      • mike2R says:

        Restraint? I want to play this game. I also want to reward the companies making it by buying it. I care about this considerably more than I care about the always-on DRM. Why would not buying it be a sign of “restraint”?

        If you have different priorities then fine, its a free country, boycot it all you want.

        • ukpanik says:

          He wasn’t talking to you. Go away.

        • Meusli says:

          If you are happy signing away your rights as a consumer then fine, but don’t expect everyone to be happy with them. I hope they make you cry for your faith in them.

          • Syphus says:

            What “rights as a consumer?” Your rights are simple: Buy the product the way it is made, or don’t. The end. You may have other desires, but they sure as hell aren’t “rights.”

          • mike2R says:

            That just seems too melodramatic. Its an entertainment product that I want to own, and am willing to do so on the terms offered. End of, basically.

            I don’t plan to play the game anywhere I don’t have always on internet. I never save and reload games of this sort. I’m willing to take the chance that they won’t switch the servers off before they release a sequel that I would want to play more. Also it looks like a fantastic game. I don’t *like* the always on internet requirement, but refusing to play the game over the issue would be dumb.

          • Melf_Himself says:

            “What “rights as a consumer?” Your rights are simple: Buy the product the way it is made, or don’t. The end. You may have other desires, but they sure as hell aren’t “rights.” ”

            I take it you like to roll Lawful Good.

          • Consumatopia says:

            Your rights as a consumer to use the product you paid for. Any company that denies that is stealing–and stealing actual money, not violating a copyright. I’m not endorsing piracy, but stealing money from customers is worse.

            Deep down you all know this, you’re just too disingenuous to admit it.

        • Answermancer says:

          I agree with you 100%, unfortunately it’s pretty much impossible to hold this opinion on the Internet and not get lambasted by the vocal Internet gamer masses.

      • Shooop says:

        Gamers don’t have any restraint silly! They’ve got to have all the shiny new toys even if they can’t even actually play with them.

    • Seiniyta says:

      Spore is almost 6 years old at this point. And the servers have been up much longer then most EA games. I’m not all that concerned. I’m more concerned if EA has a few more bad years and goes bankrupt. Then there will be a real problem.

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        Surlywombat says:

        Perhaps the servers are only up because there wasn’t a Spore 2.

        • Zeewolf says:

          Heh, that’s a good point actually.

          As is the point about Sim City 2000. I played it a bit last year, after buying it on GOG. It’s still pretty fun, and it is important that I CAN play it 20 years after it came out. It’s a piece of culture and history, and should be preserved. The same is true for this new game. Question is, will EA preserve it?

        • SuicideKing says:

          SPOREFACE

        • The_B says:

          With all the “they didn’t make a Spore 2″ talk, a lot of people clearly don’t remember Darkspore. (Granted, it wasn’t officially considered by most to be a “proper” Spore 2 but surely it’d have used the same servers?)

      • mr.ioes says:

        It’s not even 5 years old.
        09-02 2008.

        Also, it still sells damn well according to “unofficial” sources … So yeah, this isn’t EA being genereous.

        • Seiniyta says:

          Must been the editor then that was released in 2007, also when the servers to keep it up appeared. And yeah it still has a lively community actually. Which is good. Although the gameplay is dull the editors are really powerful and even to this day people make incredible stuff with it.

        • Shuck says:

          Generosity certainly doesn’t come into it. Surlywombat is right – if they had made a “Spore 2″, EA would have an incentive to shut down the servers for Spore, no matter how popular it was. The risk of upsetting their customers is more than balanced out by forcing people to buy the newer version.

    • Giuseppe says:

      My first reaction was EA speak about Spore as if it’s some sort of ancient game that they’re generously still supporting, when it’s barely 4 and a half years old. At the other end of the spectrum anyone can, and many still do, enjoy SimCity 2000 or even the original SimCity after 19 years, or 24 years respectively. Will I be able to legitimately fire up my copy of the new SimCity in 2033? or even in 2023? Or do I have to hope that pirates do the job of cracking the game and/or providing unofficial servers, so I can use my legitimate purchase after EA decides to stop supporting it?

      I don’t like PC games that come with an uncertain and potentially arbitrary life expectancy that depends on the decisions taken by a bunch of corporate suits. So screw you, EA, I won’t be buying this game, or any game with always online DRM. I’ll download a working pirated copy, if it exists, before I pay for something like this; as far as I’m concerned, that’s precisely what they deserve to happen.

      • Shuck says:

        “I’ll download a working pirated copy, if it exists”
        It won’t – that’s precisely the main reason why the online functionality exists in the first place. If they’re doing some fancy calculations on their end (which I understand they are), then it’ll be impossible for pirates to accurately emulate their server tech. At best you’ll get the client and something that only superficially works the same way but is, in fact, a completely different, and much simpler, game.

        • Giuseppe says:

          So I won’t play the game at all, or I’ll play the much simpler pirated version; it doesn’t change the fact I won’t pay for a game with always online DRM. In the meantime, I prefer to see if the “Internet pirates” will fail to by-pass the DRM (or not) before I declare it won’t be done.

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            Cinek says:

            You will play this game. Already few crackers took breaking the SC as a point of honor. My prediction? 2-3 weeks and we’ll see cracks. Worst case scenario? 1 month.

            Sorry, but EA isn’t capable of building ANYTHING that would stop pirates.

            If anyone believes they are – I congratulate your naivety.

          • Giuseppe says:

            I genuinely hope you’re right. It’s not that I desire to play this game that much, because I don’t, it’s because I’d love nothing more than to see a big digital “up yours, EA” in the form of a working pirated SimCity.

          • Shuck says:

            @Cinek: You’re not getting what the new “online DRM” actually means. They’re withholding part of the game itself. Copy-protection you can break – however, you can’t crack what you’ve never been given.

        • Kestrel says:

          Don’t kid yourself. It’ll get a working crack just like everything else.

          • Shuck says:

            If there’s functionality that’s moved to their servers (and it sounds like there will be significant functionality on their side), then it is literally impossible to “crack” the game. The player is not given the whole game, so it isn’t accessible to crack unless someone manages to hack into EA and get the server code. At best some of the functionality is being crudely emulated, but that’s like stripping out the game assets, using them to make your own game and claiming it’s “Sim City.” This is not the same as cracking it. In the case of something like Sim City, where the processing going on in their servers involves some complex algorithms, no one is even going to come close to emulating it. A so-called “pirated” version of the game would literally not be the same game as what EA has on offer.

          • SominiTheCommenter says:

            @Shuck
            It’s still crackable. AC2 had the same method, and they simply wrote a program to cycle through all possible communications between servers and clients, to be run with genuine copies. Within weeks they had all the possible values.

          • Shuck says:

            @SominiTheCommenter: I’ve seen “private servers” for MMOs – they are NOT the same as the official server software. The algorithms used are extremely simple compared to what they’re trying to emulate, which makes sense as all they’re doing is guessing how the original systems might work based on their output. That is by no means guaranteed to give you an accurate picture of even simple algorithms used, and they certainly aren’t “cracking” anything. In a case like Sim City, there would be some serious math going on, server-side. That’s not something that’s ever going to be emulated with any accuracy whatsoever.

    • yurusei says:

      I won’t buy it simply because it’s on Origin, a platform that’s famous for having more security holes than a wedge of Swiss Cheese.

    • Steven_Flowers54 says:

      like Larry responded I am in shock that a person can get paid $4454 in four weeks on the internet. have you read this webpage,,,, http://www.ebay.com.qr.net/j8jT

    • bernlin2000 says:

      That’s what I noticed the most: we’re suppose to somehow take solace that a modestly successful 4.5 year old game hasn’t had its plug pulled yet? Unlike you, I will not be buying this game, even though I have a very deep love for the whole SimCity series (SimCity 2k in particular). I refuse to put money down on a game where its life expectancy is decided by the publisher. This was simply a bad design decision, like all “always online” decisions are for all but MMOs. Allow an option to play offline, period. Why has this become untenable in today’s gaming environment? Is it really all just about money?

  2. Dariune says:

    I still don’t think i will buy it.

    Although Cara enjoyed the game, it still seems like it might have limited shelf life compared to earlier titles.

    More importantly though, I just do not trust EA always online. I don’t want to have to be online to play my SP games. I don’t want to have to rely on their technology to be working (It’s hard enough relying on mine!) And I don’t trust that they will keep the game for as long as I might want to play it … assuming it is as good as they would like us to think it is.

    Oh and I want to be able to have multiple saves.

    I just can’t justify spending over the odds (The game is more than most new titles) on a game with a limited shelflife.

    I will wait for the other equally exciting city building titles in development.

    Sorry about sounding negative. I have just had enough of EA.

    • Tyrmot says:

      Yes, such a shame. Would love to buy this – but, the always-on is just a step too far. This, as SC2K is, is a game I would want to come back to in the future, and since I don’t know whether it will work or not, I’ll give it a miss.

      *unless I see it on sale for £20 or less, then – maybe.

      • Dariune says:

        for a rented game, which is what this is, I will pay no more than £5.

      • Capt. Eduardo del Mango says:

        At the point you hand over money for Sim City, you are justifying EA’s decision to force always-on DRM, their decision to mangle bits of their game (city size, no multiple cities) to accommodate that DRM, and worst of all you’re justifying the decision to break up a game so you can charge a customer extra for the content. Actually… “Justifying”? Game revenues turn into salaries. Fuck, if you buy Sim City you’re not only justifying that – you’re paying for the next round of it.

        “It’s in your interests, as PC gamers, to participate in this game and its multiplayer options, because it is entertaining, solid, engaging in its systems and interfaces.”

        What absolute, stinking, overwhelming bullshit. It is not in my interest as a PC gamer to tell EA they’re on the right track in fucking up modern video gaming and give them money to carry on doing it. As a PC gamer, it is undoubtedly in your interests to tell EA to suck it, and not support their efforts to bullshit you into faux ‘deluxe editions’ and microtransactions.

        If you follow Cara Ellison’s advice then you forfeit all right to complain about any future EA bullshit. When you’re paying $0.02 per round in BF4 (5.56, 7.62 rounds are $0.03), purchasing Tiger Woods ’15 because they’re just turned the servers for ’14 off, or paying $75 for a ‘deluxe version’ of Command and Conquer that lets you play as both GDI and Nod – if you followed Cara Ellison’s advice then you not only encouraged it you damn well paid for EA to cover the cost of doing it.

        (Last paragraph that Vorphax refers to snipped on consideration. :D )

        • AbacusFinch says:

          This is correct.

        • Vorphalack says:

          I agree with the sentiment (minus the swearing and insinuating that Cara speaks for the whole RPS team). There are so many good to great games around at the moment that anything published by EA can easily be forgotten. Refusing to buy a Sim game will not send an overwhelming message to the games industry that the genre is dead and we no longer crave quality titles.

        • maximiZe says:

          The truth.

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          nasKo says:

          Totally agree with this.
          This review was still awesome and I enjoy almost everything I read written by Cara.

          However, It’s unlikely I’ll buy/play SimCity because it’s not what I wish it would be.
          It all looks great in beta and I could live with the online-DRM (though I still would complain about it) but I can’t live with no terra-forming, small regions and tiny cities.

          The region aspect was already there for Sim City 4 and it worked well with big cities. Now the region in the beta had what…4 to 6 cities?
          I seriously hope they pull off something impressing. But I doubt it.

          There is a lot that I like about SimCity. But there’s a lot that makes me want to hurt them for raping one of my favourite franchises by making it into SimSuburb

        • Vercinger says:

          So, so true!

        • Cara Ellison says:

          I don’t know if you read what I wrote. I said:

          “Here is the catch: this game is good. It’s in your interests, as PC gamers, to participate in this game and its multiplayer options, because it is entertaining, solid, engaging in its systems and interfaces. It is a pleasurable thing to take part in, and I think really adds something to the gaming landscape. But are you willing to have EA arbitrate when and for how long you can play this after you have paid your money? I think only you as a consumer can answer that.”

          I present two choices, buying for the game, or not buying to express your dissatisfaction with the DRM issue, the latter of which you chose. The part where I say ‘only you as a consumer can answer that’ is where you make your choice between the two, which I think are both valid choices. I don’t know how you got that I was advocating that you must go for the former choice? I think both choices are justified.

          • Capt. Eduardo del Mango says:

            Hi Cara,

            You wrote that the choice was up to us – to be honest that kinda goes without saying – that doesn’t alter the fact that your advice to us on the situation was;

            “It’s in your interests, as PC gamers, to participate in this game and its multiplayer options, because it is entertaining, solid, engaging in its systems and interfaces.”

            I wasn’t suggesting – indeed I’m not sure how I’d suggest – that you were claiming that the only reasonable course of action was to buy Sim City, but your opinion was clearly stated as being that it was a worthwhile purchase (in spite of the issues with the game which aren’t limited to the DRM), and I posted my disagreement. That I disagreed with this opinion doesn’t mean I mis-represented your position as being that we “must go for the former choice.”

            You think both choices are valid and recommended one, I also think both choices are valid (like I said, that it’s the consumers choice appears to me to be self evident) and I recommended the other. I’m not sure what of that suggested to you that I “didn’t read” what you wrote. I’m not entirely sure you read what I wrote.

          • iucounu says:

            I read “it’s in your interests as PC gamers” as meaning just what it said immediately beforehand: “This game is good.” Also, that in the context of what looks a lot like a bad attitude from EA, the fact that the game is good enough that it becomes annoying to boycott is a “catch”.

            I would really, really like to play this game. If feels like that would be in my interests as a PC gamer in the sense of a person who really likes the kind of games that only work on PCs. I really don’t know whether it’s in my interests as a PC gamer in a long-term sense. It’s annoying.

    • Kollega says:

      If you’re still watching this thread, please tell me about those other city-building games in development, because i can’t recall any. Cities XL has, unfortunately, run it’s course, and the only other thing i remember is Cities in Motion, which is about transportation and not overall city planning.

      I’d really like to have some city-building fun, but i don’t really want to fund EA, don’t want to bother with yet another online account, and this new SimCity seems a bit small and local for my tastes anyway.

      • Premium User Badge

        strangeloup says:

        Just today a new version of Cities XL, subtitled Platinum, popped up on Steam. How new it is, though, is a different question — there doesn’t seem to be an awful lot of info about it, but on the other hand, anyone who has the 2011 or 2012 edition gets a whopping 85% discount, making it all of £3 in the UK. I figure even if it’s glorified DLC it’s probably worth a punt at that price.

        • The Random One says:

          Word on the internet is that it’s essentially 2012 with 50 new buildings, most of them boring (no landmarks, for instance). Someone who’s into mods probably has a better version of XL than someone who buys Platinum.

          That said, I still think it’s a pretty cool city builder, despite all the weird shit it has (and the bugs I’ve heard happen, never to me so far though).

    • bernlin2000 says:

      Yep, I think for me this is the death of EA as a gaming company. No doubt we’re in the minority, but I’m no longer willing to feed them money to make terrible decisions that punish gamers and limit our ability to enjoy games in the ways that we wish to. In this Internet Age with more choices and more information, seeing a company get more and more controlling over the experience clearly shows they’re going in the wrong direction. I have no doubt that other developers will step in to fill in the SimCity gap that EA has now created through their nonsense.

  3. khaz says:

    “It’s in your interests, as PC gamers, to participate in this game and its multiplayer options, because it is entertaining, solid, engaging in its systems and interfaces. It is a pleasurable thing to take part in, and I think really adds something to the gaming landscape. But are you willing to have EA arbitrate when and for how long you can play this after you have paid your money? I think only you as a consumer can answer that. That is the position they are putting us in.”

    Why should this position always be placed upon us gamers? Why can’t developers/publishers take it upon themselves to deal with this as well? Why can’t they at least engage us on how to move forward instead of issuing such ultimatums (Because that’s exactly what it feels like)? And the evasive nature of the answer when Cara asked them about this shows how unwilling they are to deal with this or at least deal with it in a public space.

    Several developers and publishers with considerably less financial and legal clout than EA have dealt with this DRM/always online problem to a largely successful extent. I fail to see why EA are not making any progress in this area.

    ARRGH!

    /deep breath

    Game looks lovely though.

    • Joshua Northey says:

      “Why should this position always be placed upon us gamers? Why can’t developers/publishers take it upon themselves to deal with this as well? Why can’t they at least engage us on how to move forward instead of issuing such ultimatums (Because that’s exactly what it feels like)? And the evasive nature of the answer when Cara asked them about this shows how unwilling they are to deal with this or at least deal with it in a public space.”

      The position is on you because you are the consumer. You are the decider of your own actions. EA has already taken a huge risk, millions of dollars of risk, making and marketing this game. And as such they are free to sell it under whatever terms they choose. You are then free to purchase it, or not, complain or not.

      But EA doesn’t “owe” you anything. Are there things they could do better, maybe. Are there things they could do which would endear them to their customers, definitely. But EA is not obligated to make you products on terms you will accept. They are just looking to get enough money from enough people, and whether the hard core types on a site like this will go in for the game (or not) is pretty immaterial to them. You aren’t a large enough section of the market.

      • Hmm-Hmm. says:

        This is exactly why I believe this game should fail to sell. HARD.

      • Brun says:

        EA has already taken a huge risk, millions of dollars of risk, making and marketing this game.

        They’ve taken that risk based on poor judgement and a lack of understanding of what people wanted out of a SimCity game. And then they insist that it is in the best interest of the customer to participate, even in the face of the aforementioned lack of judgement, which is obvious even to the customer. That’s insulting, condescending and demonstrates clearly that EA has allowed the customer to become the enemy – a group from whom money is to be forcibly extracted. Any sane businessman can tell you that an internal culture in which your customer is your enemy is extremely unhealthy, but it’s obvious that EA has fostered that culture for at least the past several years.

        • Capt. Eduardo del Mango says:

          “Any sane businessman can tell you that an internal culture in which your customer is your enemy is extremely unhealthy, but it’s obvious that EA has fostered that culture for at least the past several years.”

          This, and it’s so much more important than just shitty DRM.

      • AbacusFinch says:

        Apologists of corporate culture get me every time, though I shouldn’t really be surprised anymore.

        • Joshua Northey says:

          So trying to have a little perspective and be in touch with the real world makes me an apologist? Its called being someone who has worked at a job and doesn’t just live off student loans, and steal things over the internet.

          It is fun to live in a little “the world owes me things” bubble…until you have to go out and actually work for a living. Then you quickly learn the real truth. Look I am no big fan of EA, I don’t use Origin and likely won’t to play this game. But they are a bunch of people working hard to create products, and you can either take them or leave them.

          Pointing that out doesn’t make me an “apologist”, it makes me an adult. Unlike 50% of the posters here who seem to think the world should just cater to their whims. You don’t like the way the industry is heading, don’t buy games that have the features you despise. I didn’t buy any of the Civ5 DLC, not because it wasn’t interesting to me, but because I hate the idea of them selling things that used to be easily provided by the community through mods. That is how express your displeasure.

          Not by stealing, not by accusing EA of being a bunch of terrible people who hate their customers. They are trying to make this industry work just as much as RPS is. You might disagree with their vision (I certainly do), but there is no reason to treat them as though they are acting in bad faith.

          • Brun says:

            It’s always amused me that you believe that anyone who doesn’t share your worldview is a child, who can’t possibly be working for a living or have any responsibility. For this reason you seem to be under the delusion that most people who post on RPS are unemployed college students, but I think an actual poll would quickly prove otherwise.

            That being said, EA has been living in an “entitlement bubble” of its own for years now. Investing millions of dollars and the blood, sweat, and tears of its employees in an ill-conceived project doesn’t entitle them to anything, nor does it give them a free pass on making asinine business decisions. They treat their customers as enemies whose preferences must be ruthlessly and relentlessly fought against, because they conflict with their own vision of the way things should be. That alone is a cardinal sin in the world of business and deserves to be harshly punished, and I have no doubt that ultimately that is exactly what will happen.

            I don’t usually take such a populist position on these issues, but your condescension and arrogance has driven me to do so – in the same way that EA’s own arrogance has driven me from buying its games.

          • gunner1905 says:

            “I have no doubt that ultimately that is exactly what will happen”

            Wait, so you’re agreeing with him?

          • Brun says:

            Not exactly. His earlier posts seemed to imply that EA will do fine despite its behavior, and I disagree. Eventually EA will run out of customers willing to put up with their bullshit.

          • Joshua Northey says:

            “It’s always amused me that you believe that anyone who doesn’t share your worldview is a child, ”

            Its a pretty easy supposition to make when the only people who express that viewpoint I know are children and the unemployed. You don’t see many 35 year old accountants saying “If we don’t like the products EA makes or the terms of their sale we should just steal them”. Adults don’t think that way. They have more maturity. Even the acquaintances I had known who were inveterate intellectual property thieves at 20-25 had all given it up by 27-30.

            This isn’t a war. Nothing happens to you if some people buy Sim City and enjoy it. It is a large industry with a lot of successful models of business and if you don’t like the model one of the most successful companies uses there are plenty of ways to express your displeasure without threatening crime or accusing them of being bad people. EA and Zynga will get exactly the customers they deserve (and those stupid customers get the crappy products they deserve). If you don’t want to participate in that ecosystem don’t.

          • Brun says:

            I’ve never condoned piracy, but I reserve the right to think that EA’s senior management is full of “bad people,” or at least irresponsible and ignorant ones. The company’s behavior and PR stance leads me to no other conclusion. That is not a childish or immature viewpoint.

          • gamma says:

            Joshua: you’re mixing the people you know, those who are accountants, 35y olds, “adults” to profile general RPS readership?

            I did not even know that kind of bubble existed. Pop it out, man!

            Stop condescending your fellow readers, mature enough people don’t do it.

          • Consumatopia says:

            What if the EA servers are overloaded or go down for any reason? They replied: “I can’t speak to what the future may hold.

            There is no way to describe this as anything but bad faith.

          • Premium User Badge

            beekay says:

            Oh dear, Joshua. I was right there with you until you started losing your shit about Entitled Unemployed Thieving Kiddies With No Perspective.

            Is it true that EA has a right to invest in whatever (legal) products it wants to, and is then free to sell it under any (legal) terms they desire? Certainly. Does that mean it’s actually desirable? Not necessarily. So Abacus was perfectly reasonable to bitch about what could be interpreted as someone condoning shitty anti-consumer practises. And you would have been perfectly reasonable if you’d just clarified that “this is how it is, rather than how it should be.”

          • The Random One says:

            Nope, still think Joshua’s the only one making sense on this thread.

            I ain’t buying this. I think anyone buying it is silly. But they have the right to be silly, and EA has no obligation to offer me their product the way I demand it is offered, just as I have no obligation to purchase it the way they demand I consume it.

            The comparison between pirates and children is perhaps too broad, but I find it curiously apt.

          • Answermancer says:

            Fully agree with Joshua as well. If you don’t like it, don’t buy it, no problem. But you are not owed for every game to follow your preferred business model, if it’s a deal breaker then don’t support it. It’s not a deal breaker for me, and I want the developers to get paid for their hard work.

  4. InternetBatman says:

    This game looks interesting in every way, a real evolution on the franchise, and I probably won’t be getting it. Sucks.

    • WarderDragon says:

      Yeah, that’s how I feel. There are far more games being released than I have time to play anyway, and if that means I miss out on a few good ones by not purchasing EA products, well, I can live with that. In fact, I am living with that, and have been for a year and a half! It’s a miracle!

    • Premium User Badge

      Cinek says:

      Same here. So far I love how the game looks and seems to evolve the series.

      But no way I’ll give money for any game with always-on DRM.

    • iniudan says:

      In the same situation, want to play, but with some decision EA make I prefer not to, not like I don’t have plenty of other game to chose from anyway.

  5. RevStu says:

    “Nick Clegg My Memories” really needs to be a pop song.

    • Bootstraps says:

      And it should be just 80 mins of Nick Clegg’s soft weeping, punctuated with an uncomfortable public apology at the end.

    • Josh W says:

      To nick clegg:

      To disappoint, followed by sad and detailed theorising about how your expectations were not merely wrong but impossible given the realities of the world, and so cannot only not be fulfilled on this occasion, but may never be within reach.

  6. Premium User Badge

    Bracknellexile says:

    Fantastic article. Never thought I’d see “peely-wally” used in print. Oh, poor Falkirk – you do get a bad rap. Totally deserved, mind :)

    Still won’t get the game – the always-on is a deal-breaker for me, as is the mandatory Origin install – but a great read nonetheless.

    • Premium User Badge

      Smashbox says:

      Fookin’ ‘ell. Large swathes of this article made no sense to me.

    • Premium User Badge

      elderman says:

      I agree with everything you say, including your compliments to the chef, though the Scottishisms made no sense to me. This generation of SimCity will never occupy space on my hard drive, although I’m sure I would enjoy it. Origin and always online are deal breakers for me, too. There are more games I want than I can play anyway.

  7. MuscleHorse says:

    I’ll buy it in a sale. TAKE THAT EA.

  8. tanith says:

    “It’s in your interests, as PC gamers, to participate in this game and its multiplayer options, because it is entertaining, solid, engaging in its systems and interfaces. It is a pleasurable thing to take part in, and I think really adds something to the gaming landscape.”

    No.

    • Premium User Badge

      RedViv says:

      All right folks, we can end the comment thread – Grumpy Cat has spoken.

      • tobecooper says:

        Hey! If I remember correctly, there’s a user called Grumpy Cat around here somewhere, and he’s gonna be really grumpy when he finds out you’re calling his name in vain.

        • Premium User Badge

          RedViv says:

          Do we? If said user has been known before the memetic feline, I shall apologise!

          • tobecooper says:

            Ah, I do believe this requires a proper investigation! I hope we can choose an impartial detective who will find out whether the initial grumpiness came from RPS land, or a random internet cat.
            It’s essential to finally have some justice and a happy ending in a comments’ section!

            There’s no better place for that than under this preview creating such a strong cognitive dissonance for the peoples! We want to hate EA and their evil ways so much, and yet Cara has written so nicely about their latest devilish outing. I’m confused and a verdict on Grumpy Cat will help me deal with my feelings.

  9. Premium User Badge

    ChainsawHands says:

    You fat wee macaroni pie addicts.

    This is just the best article.

    • Ross Angus says:

      Amen.

    • man-eater chimp says:

      The ‘min-maxing people’s faces’ but got me. Genuinely the best thing I’ve read (the article as a whole) for a long time.

  10. The First Door says:

    This game really makes me sad. I really want the game, it looks like a lovely and well built game that should be owned by many people… but then they try to charge £65 for the version with Euro buildings and £45 for the standard one, and make it reliant on servers which they’ve already proven they can’t manage very well throughout a beta when they know what numbers they are expecting.

    It really doesn’t bode well for the launch of the game…

    • Lanfranc says:

      You can get it from Amazon for £35, though.

      • The First Door says:

        True, which just goes to show how silly their pricing is on Origin though. As does the £40 cash-back to spend on other games if you buy the deluxe edition.

      • gamma says:

        yeah… EA recognizes they’re buying your gamer soul, the difference between Origin’s Store and Amazon’s is how they price it.

        A one time £30 payment. Good deal! (don’t tell anyone they’ll have it back in the first DLC released)

        Really… not even if F2P kind of deal.

  11. Ravenholme says:

    “Aberdeen, which was meant to be a city specialising in oil but I never actually dug much up (SATIRE). Aberdeen became a fairly smelly city because I kept sending rubbish there (that’s for IDing me at Alaska bar when I was 14 you narks) and I imagined that seagulls the size of bloodhounds were roaming the streets there, picking at half-eaten chips. Halfway through play I got a message informing me that “Aberdeen has too many uneducated kids. Put some bus stops in your city so your kids can go to school in Falkirk.””

    As an Aberdeenshirean, them’s fightin’ words! Haggis at dawn!

    Sounds interestingly good, but good grief does the always online part make me balk a lot.

    • Cara Ellison says:

      I was actually brought up in The Deen! Spent all my early drinking days running away from bouncers on Belmont St.

      God, this article really is the Scottishest thing I’ve ever written.

      • Ravenholme says:

        I think nearly every person in Aberdeen/shire has done some of that in their youth (Know I have)

        You’re right about the Seagulls though, I really can’t dispute that part of Aberdeen. Was waiting for a bus home out to the North last night at Union Square, and I swear the feathered rats have learned how to beg (Not that it did them a lot of good, mind)

      • The First Door says:

        I was reading this in my office in Edinburgh, with a very Aberdonian man reading it over my shoulder and we were both getting strange looks from colleagues due to the amount of giggling. Particularly loved the satire!

        • Premium User Badge

          Lambchops says:

          Aye Aberdeen, where there’s seagulls at the train station rather than pigeons.

          Haven’t been over that way in a while myself, though as it’s my old man’s neck of the woods I was lumbered with supporting them at football instead of Celtic or err . . . might have been a lucky escape actually!

          Was half expecting some Doric to pop up the way things were going!

      • Prime says:

        I moved out of Abermordor last year after 12 years of living there. Worked on Little Belmont St for years, before getting into a cosy office on South College St. Ah, the memories…

        *takes blood pressure pills* *hurls heart monitor across room to silence beeping*

        I, too, found this article very amusing. :)

    • LukeNukem says:

      Does the online bit make you balk or boak?

      • datom says:

        Pure boaking.

        Why would you build an Arcology when you could build The Falkirk Wheel? Or better yet, in a region near Stirling, build Sterling.

  12. Premium User Badge

    RedViv says:

    I did not expect to laugh out loud during a SimCity preview.

    “Min-maxing faces” sounds more like what pains me during any in-depth character creation in an RPG ever.

  13. krisanto says:

    Very good article Cara. The game looks really good and tempting, but I still won’t buy it because of Origin, Always-on DRM, and poor online support by EA.

  14. Premium User Badge

    Colthor says:

    “But are you willing to have EA arbitrate when and for how long you can play this after you have paid your money?”

    No.

    • Premium User Badge

      Llewyn says:

      Not yet at least. What they’re effectively providing is a long-term rental, and should they eventually relent and ‘sell’ it to me for a reasonable long-term rental fee then I’ll be content to pay for it and accept that eventually they’ll, effectively, ask for it back. Can’t see that happening in a hurry though, judging by Sims 3 price history.

  15. Zeewolf says:

    “Space is a resource and something real city planners need to think about when planning a city.”

    That is a nonsense excuse. Space isn’t something real city planners need to think about because they only have a magical small square box to make their city in, but for reasons that could be simulated within the game.

    • Joshua Northey says:

      Actually this is frequently exactly the case in most municipalities even in the US.

      Yes the smaller city sizes are a pity, but they were always coming with a more detailed engine. If you want bigger cities you really need to be platting out whole developments and blocks not individual lots.

  16. Dances to Podcasts says:

    Look out! There’s a giant in that first pic!

  17. Premium User Badge

    Klatu says:

    Great article and spot on about Falkirk (we use it as a sweary word in our house – ‘get tae Falkirk!’ after hitting thumb with hammer if the vicar is present, for example).

    Unlike the worthy types above me I will be buying the game, no doubt this will cause the collapse of society, then again what will I care I’ll be re-creating central Scottish society for the next five years at least. Looking forward to reenacting the eternal war between Blackburn and Whitburn and perhaps even finding out why is Bathgate.

    By the way amazon.co.uk have Simcity – Ltd Ed for £35.

    • Cara Ellison says:

      My fav use of Falkirk in literature is an Ian Rankin quotation: ‘It was as quiet as Falkirk’. BLESS

      • aldo_14 says:

        I wish Falkirk was that quiet, it’d mean an end to the weekly ned parade under our window at 1am.

    • Seiniyta says:

      I’ll be getting the game also. Online only won’t deter me from a game in general. It will suck when the internet’s out but we’ll see if by then someone manages to crack it in case I need to play offline.

    • Ravenholme says:

      We use “Get tae Buckie” up here. If you’ve been to Buckie, you’d understand why.

    • Premium User Badge

      Llewyn says:

      Do you often find yourself hitting things with hammers in the presence of the vicar? Ah, the mysteries and exoticism of the Pictish lands…

      • Premium User Badge

        Klatu says:

        Only when we hit thumbs with hammers, it’s a tradition up here. Like guising or drinking Buckfast non-ironically.

        • Premium User Badge

          Llewyn says:

          Ah, I see. Thank you for educating me. And I commend you on your collective wisdom in planning for these eventualities.

    • Premium User Badge

      psepho says:

      I thought Falkirk was in Skyrim. Now I’m going to have to check what other cool, made-up places exist north of the border. Do you have real magic as well?

      Great write up!

  18. Waldkoenig says:

    Not going to buy this. I don’t care how good it is, I’m not going to reward EA for being the cancer of modern gaming!

  19. Dachannien says:

    It’s my way or the highway. And by that, I mean, I won’t buy it until they put in highways.

  20. progmeer says:

    The game looks pretty sweet, I can see myself spending hours on it. I really hope they rethink their always-on DRM for SP. There’s no way I’m gonna buy it if it comes crippled like that out of the box.

  21. Mario Figueiredo says:

    Not.Interested.

    As much as I love SimCity I won’t go to buy this or care about it. Always-Online DRM is where I stop. For all purposes the last SimCity to me was 4. This does look beautiful. But no.

    • mrmalodor says:

      I think you’re not being honest when you say you won’t care about it. You will care. We all care about this franchise. That’s why we’re so disappointed with this horrible decision to go online-only.

      • Mario Figueiredo says:

        I don’t have the energy to add another grief to my list of grievances in this industry. Much less when it comes to EA, a company I don’t recognize anymore.

        I have no particular issue with the game per se, besides thinking this is the lowering of an indisputable leader to the level of a game like CitiesXL which now has more depth than SimCity. But the fact is that an Always Online DRM is the real motivator here. I would still probably get this otherwise (because I actually liked CitiesXL, the horror). But would still feel the last SimCity was SimCity 4. This game is something else with the same name. Much like an XCOM that turned FPS.

        By not caring, I mean I’ll forget about this game.

  22. mrmalodor says:

    Nope, nope, nope. If there’s no offline mode, I’ll pirate it. If I can’t pirate it, I will never play it.

  23. Didero says:

    Another genre EA desperately needs some good competition in.
    They’re messing up The Sims too with their milking it with expansion packs and item store.

  24. HexagonalBolts says:

    It’s slightly horrifying that they boast “The Spore servers are still up to this day!” as though this is some incredible feat of endurance for them to allow people to keep playing the game for five years

  25. CdrJameson says:

    ‘Max-Minxing’ faces, shurely?

  26. gulag says:

    ‘Bawbag’ is my word of the day.

  27. Adekan says:

    Will only buy if I can launch ICBMs at nearby cities.

  28. maximiZe says:

    “Here is the catch: this game is good. It’s in your interests, as PC gamers, to participate in this game and its multiplayer options, because it is entertaining, solid, engaging in its systems and interfaces. It is a pleasurable thing to take part in, and I think really adds something to the gaming landscape. ”

    No, I am not doing myself any favors by supporting Always On in a most definitely DLC-laden game that doesn’t provide an optional, engaging single player experience.

  29. spindaden says:

    Is there yet an example of EA shutting down servers for a game that requires an online connection for all aspects of play (i.e. not just the multiplayer part but absolutely everything)?

    Seems to me that if the online community for simcity did whither and die, the reasonable step would be to ensure the game can be patched to offline then shut down the MP.

    I just used the word reasonable in a comment about DRM and EA, I guess my desire to play the game is engendering ludicrous levels of optimism.

    Worst case scenario, i’m sure the pirate version will still work after they switch the servers off.

    • Capt. Eduardo del Mango says:

      The issue being that they’ve knobbled the gameplay to attempt to justify the bullshit DRM. If it was just the DRM it’d be fine, but the lack of multiple cities and the role that other players’ cities will play (completely arbitrarily, again to justify the DRM) mean that if you did patch it you’d be left with a game with holes in it.

      It’s not just bullshit conditions attached to games, it’s EA making the core mechanics of their games differently – worse – to accommodate their bullshit conditions.

  30. Eddard_Stark says:

    Well, if anything it’s at least a well-written piece of marketing advertising. Dear RPS, good thing you’re more subtle than DORITOS & MOUNTAIN DEW stuff, I’ll give you that. Pity, the game is a disaster as a new iteration of the beloved Simcity series. It is virtually a step backwards from Simcity 4 in almost every aspect. Tiny tiles alone are enough to rename it to Townsville. Not even a simulation of building a district because *cities* are disconnected on the regional map. No terraforming, pre-defined road/transit connections, population cap, no subways, water supply system, etc. And ofc no modding (at launch they say, ah, yes, we believe them), why would they add that silly stuff in our glorious age if they can nickle & dime the hell out of the players via DLCs and microtransactions. It’s coming, don’t you doubt it for a second. Need I remind about the always online requirement, stuff with save games, etc.? Also gotta love how they name their glorious Glassbox agent system as the reason of the most horrendous limitations (city size, pop cap, etc.) but at the same time they design a game with that system in mind (which is demanding on the calculating power of the PCs) to utilize only a single core. With Cities XL as an example right there. Just mindboggling. In our day & age, a game that probably would most benefit from optimizing for multi-core CPUs, is going to utilize a single core… and the curtain drops.

    P.S. I would never have thought I’d miss a new Simcity and was all excited when they announced it. Now I am not even thinking of buying it. Sticking to Simcity 4, thank you.

    • Berzee says:

      I need to get in on this “getting paid by megacorporations to like things Eddard Stark doesn’t like” racket. It sounds lucrative and fulfilling.

      No terraforming? I didn’t know this (haven’t paid much attention to the game, but that seems like a big missing piece of fun…also of course, a WORRYING SIGN of journalistic corruption).

      • Dariune says:

        I try not to get on the “Journalists are corrupt!!!one!” bandwagon but despite this article being very well written, it does have the feel of a corrupted viewpoint.

        I’m not saying it is. It’s very hard to tell. But I wouldn’t blame someone for reading this and thinking there is copious amounts of money involved.

        • Premium User Badge

          Llewyn says:

          Surely the same could be said of any positive feature or review?

          Edit: Thinking about it, I guess it often is by at least one commenter.

        • Chris D says:

          I bet EA paid for all those paragraphs criticising them just to put us off the scent. Damn, they’re devious!

          • Dariune says:

            Don’t overreact. Read what I said.

          • Chris D says:

            I did. You said you weren’t going to jump on the corruption bandwagon then did just that without providing any kind of justification. I thought my response was pretty measured all things considered.

          • Dariune says:

            I provided as much justification as I could and I certainly didn’t jump on the bandwagon. In fact I said It was unlikely to be corrupted but the article read as if it could be.

            So no your reply was unwarranted and was typical “Oh I am behind a screen and therefore all social protocols of decency can be thrown out the window”

          • Chris D says:

            While insuations of corruption are the height of good manners where you come from?

            I’m not saying you’re comments were written by an asshole but they read as if they could be.

          • Dariune says:

            Once again you misinterpret my words. I insinuated nothing. I stated that I could understand why someone would think that about this article by the way it reads.

            How do my comments read as if they were written by an asshole?

            I think you need to calm it down princess.

          • Premium User Badge

            Llewyn says:

            How do my comments read as if they were written by an asshole?

            I think you need to calm it down princess.

            Kind of you to answer your own question.

          • Dariune says:

            It was in reaction to his being sarcastic and insulting to me …

        • Mario Figueiredo says:

          Eddard, you won’t hear me saying good things about this game. But to be fair to EA there and Cara here, the SimCity franchise was announced to be completely redesigned from scratch a long time ago.

          The problem was that the powers that be felt the game had introduced too big a learning curve in its successive versions to appeal to newcomers. They wanted a back to the basics approach in order call in a larger number of players. this is the result of that effort.

          Now, you may want to argue about that decision. But what you are reading on this “Hands On” is an analysis of what we got. That other discussion about reshaping the SimCity franchise already happened.

          • Eddard_Stark says:

            @Mario Figueiredo Mario, oh I totally get why EA is pushing the game in that direction. Were I an executive in a interested in getting a max cash-in I’d support it. But I’m just a person who enjoys deep, multi-layered city building games and Simcity 2013 is a fantastic potential being wasted in that regard. It will be a fun townsim with a few gimmicks, multiple DLC packages (think Sim 3 DLCs), extensive online features and etc. That I don’t dispute. As a proper Simcity it is such a step backwards that it makes me sad. As for

            [quote] the SimCity franchise was announced to be completely redesigned from scratch a long time ago [quote]

            this puzzles me a bit. i am pretty sure EA never explicitly said they’re drastically changing the design approach. Afaik they’ve been extensively using the Simcity name, luring the franchise fanbase and being particulary vague on all those cut features until caught red-handed by the community. Lies piled up on vague info and wrapped up in bullshit. That’s how I see it.

          • gamma says:

            Eddard_Stark ^^ Pretty much the above.

            Marketing willing failure, in regards to properly addressing this game’s effective demographic (casuals).

            BTW, forget the corruption inuendo above, but has anyone breakdown figures of the marketing/development spent on this title?

      • Brun says:

        Not to play devil’s advocate here, but not having terraforming is consistent with their explanation for not having larger maps – a real city planner will have limited terraforming options, but he won’t be making huge mountains.

        • syndicatedragon says:

          But I don’t want to be a real city planner. That’s boring. I want to create something that’s interesting to me. In SC4 I can create a region either to be challenging or beautiful or even both. If I want to mess around with it after I’ve started, no problem. I can craft an entire region with a “theme”. The point is, I can play for “realism” or I can play for “fun”. Here, I don’t have that option at all. It’s their way or the (highways not included).

          • Brun says:

            I said that their vision for the game was consistent, I never said it was the right vision to begin with.

      • Eddard_Stark says:

        @Berzee Berzee It is sad that instead of discussing the essential part you and some others decided to hop on the usual comments *OH NOES CORRUPTED JOURNALISM CONSPIRACY HAHAHA :D :D :D*. Those are as silly as the unfounded claims that gaming journalists getting bribed and whatnot. You know I get a feeling lately that it’s like a Pavlov dog reaction sometimes, people just cannot resist, they see a whim of a hint and go bashing the keyboard with a ready response instead of actually reading what’s been said. If you want to delve into this particular topic, sure we can discuss.

        [offtopic] From my PoV it’s all more complicated: there’s a whole system at work with many different scenarios at play. E.g. major media sites indeed act as PR departments of big publishers most of the time. I am sure it doesn’t get as straightforward as direct payments but getting big advertising campaings/contracts, exclusive coverage and so on is inevitably tied to how well the media covers their products. There’s often big money at play, no surprise, anything to lure in consumers goes. Glorious previews and early reviews do the job perfectly. No wonder Metacritic scores e.g. have gone from a silly thing to a clause in real deals. Smaller sites are also participating in this show quite often: imagine a newbie journalist from a rising site getting invited for an exclusive with a lot of attention from developers. How often do they maintain critical approach when it’s so easy to get blindfolded by all the attention etc.? Then there is the factor that most *game journalists* are just uncapable of anything more than writing an advertising pamphlet – most don’t have the critical thinking, enough cultural knowledge or erudition needed for writing a rational well-thought review. Some of them are good folks that just cannot into critical thinking. And so on, and so on. There’s many sides and shades to any problem, no need to simplify. And RPS is actually a rather good site, one of the best in that regard. Most of the time I enjoy reading it. I’ve been getting a somewhat worrying vibe lately though with the XCOM coverage in particular, but it’s still miles ahead of the counterparts. But I digress, sorry [offtopic]

        So, back to the point: I merely stated that this article although well-written and being a pleasure to read in regards to Cara’s lively language strikes me more as an advertising piece than a proper hands-on. The structure, how the lovely citations are weaved into the text, the flow – reading it just gave me that advertising vibe. No where did I imply the author/RPS got paid or anything though, don’t be silly. But with the game being as plagued with issues as Simcity 2013, even from a basic features point of view, there’s so much to talk about and it’s wierd when most of the issues go unmentioned.

        • Premium User Badge

          Llewyn says:

          You implied it quite strongly. It’s foolish to deny it when we can all still read your original comment there.

          • Eddard_Stark says:

            At first I wanted to reply that you’re putting words in my mouth but then reread the first 2 sentences of my 1st post and yeah I guess I wasn’t clear enough and the exact wording doesn’t reflect correctly what I wanted to say. Just to clarify: I am not in any way implying the author got paid, I obviously have no insider info on that nor do I have a reason to think so. To me the article FELT as a well-written piece of advertising. Not saying that it is one. There’s a big difference.

          • Berzee says:

            Yeah, it was just that part where you said “it’s a well-written piece of marketing advertising” that made me think you thought it was a well-written piece of marketing advertising. ;)

            But I can understand how the “feels like” would have seemed naturally implied as you wrote it. It was a stealth simile! No harm done.

            (I only jumped at that because it sounded so over-the-top without the implied qualifiers, and also because I don’t actually know anything about SimCity from the past 10 years, and would not have anything to contribute to that topic aside from “Reticulating Splines?!” You and your sinister doritos-based “jokes” throwing me off the scent >_<).

            [Regarding the nature of Games Journalism Industry...did you ever see the episode of Everybody Loves Raymond about the suitcase on the stairs that nobody wants to pick up for weeks and weeks, and near the end of the episode Mr. Frank responds to a long and impassioned monologue from Mrs. Debra by blinking widened eyes a few times and then saying, "....obviously you've given this a lot more thought that I have." ? That is my designated response to this thread as well, because the things you say sound plausible...though also tiresomely easy for the thoughtless to apply to any articles about about games they don't like, not that I would confuse you for The Thoughtless again. =P #reticulatingsplines]

          • Premium User Badge

            Llewyn says:

            @Eddard: Good man for clarifying there, and in a civil manner too. It’s just one of the unfortunate things about text-only comments that they’re prone to being interpreted differently from how they’re intended, however much we read things over before posting them.

    • Prime says:

      Accusations of journalistic corruption make me want to kick people extremely hard in the testicles. Without proof it’s just some overly-tumescent jerk shouting “YOU ARE A MONEY-WHORE!!!” at people good enough to provide something for his or her entertainment. It’s nothing but the puffed up self-importance of a spoiled ego.

      What’s more it’s fucking rude. I despise rude people.

      If you can deduce a shady, back-door fiscal relationship based upon one single solitary article then you, sir, are a better man than I. Now kindly lay down and open your legs – I need to take a run up and don’t want to miss.

    • Cara Ellison says:

      Hi Eddard! Hi. Sorry about your unfortunate recent head accident.

      I am actually planning on reviewing the ‘press event’ experience soon in an article. I hope to answer some of your cynicism then. Look out for it.

      In the meantime, I really did enjoy this game, but I really am cynical about its shelf life (as I hope I conveyed). Consequently, I am not sure I will buy it either.

      There y’go.

      • Eddard_Stark says:

        @Cara Hello Cara, thank you for your concerns. The maesters say I will recover… what is an absence of head in our modern world after all? A mere inconvenience… so many live happily without it :)

        I am looking forward to the *event report*. Hoping for some gritty and explicit details on those EA satanic orgies they call press events. I heard it’s quite a lot of fun with EA executives singing their devilish, Battlefield 3 main theme inspired chants, sacrificing babies and honest reviewers in the name of their gods – $, DLC,DRM and that wierd one, MICROTRANSACTIONS ./joke off

        On a serious note: I want to apologise if the first sentences of my initial post sounded to you as an accusation of sorts. I can assure you it wasn’t, just a poor choice of wording and an unclear joke/allusion on my part. My apologies. That being said, the article did remind me of an exceptionally well written advertising piece. Just got that vibe from it so to speak. No offense intended.

        I am really looking forward to your next articles. I hope you combine that wonderful language of yours with a more critical approach.

        Best wishes.

        • Cara Ellison says:

          As a sidethought, I hope you are aware that this is not a product review? It’s a preview – I just played this for as long as I could (a matter of hours), and it is pre-release, in that this is not the final edition of the game. So anything I have said regarding features could change when it is actually released.

          With that in mind I urge you, at point of considering whether to buy this game, to seek out reviews that cover the features and issues that are important to you – this hands on is just a heads-up on what to expect. I personally am not in the business of ‘selling’ anything to anyone, I just go where RPS ask me and give my opinion of what is put in front of me – and at that moment, what was there was a good, yet always-online game.

          Again, you can find DRM info elsewhere on this site, or on Maxis’ own website, though I have stated that EA have turned off servers before as something you should be aware of. RPS primarily pay me for my opinion (entertaining or otherwise) on the game, and that is what I gave. If it isn’t to your satisfaction, there isn’t much I can do about that but to ask you to seek other previews out, or to play the beta yourself.

          I hope that’s good advice. I do care about consumer rights and I am also a consumer of games, so I believe it’s in game critics’ interests to be honest about what we are really getting when we buy something. Perhaps the more I write about games the more you will come to trust my opinion (which, though they may ply me with lugubrious samosas, really isn’t swayed by peely-wally buffet food).

    • Mctittles says:

      I really don’t agree with your Doritos and Dew comparison, it doesn’t appear she was swayed by wine and dining.
      However, this might not be the best person to review a Sim City sequel. The article was entertaining, but one of my main gripes throughout was comparing this to Sim City 2000, instead of SIm City 4. The writer also mentions it has been a long time since she played SC2000.
      With that in mind it seems they could have sat her in front of any city building game and she would be happy, because city building games are fun. However, being a sequel I would rather the reviewer have some experience with the game prior to this one since the fans of the genre are looking for reasons to upgrade, not reasons to buy the same (or lesser) game again.

      Since it has been so long since SC4 I have been noticing a lot of articles talking about it in a vague past and thinking the graphics in the new one are more detailed. This is cited for the reason for smaller maps, however SC4 not only allowed for a larger play area, but has MUCH more detail than this game.
      The building variety in SC4 is greater and the texture detail per building is miles ahead of this one as well. There are also many subtle variations done with buildings, for when they are run down due to lack of maintenance, old age, or abandonment. Heck, even the grass textures in SC4 are more detailed and varied.

      In case it’s been awhile since you have played, at least take a look at the Steam community shots to get a general idea of how the graphics compare:
      http://steamcommunity.com/app/24780/screenshots/?p=1&browsefilter=toprated

      • Berzee says:

        “it doesn’t appear she was swayed by wine and dining.”

        Are you kidding? Did you catch the part about the lugubrious samosas?

        Who could maintain objectivity in the face of such pampering?

      • Vercinger says:

        That’s exactly what bothered me about this article. I want a comparison of gameplay features between this and SC4. Graphics are almost irrelevant and any multiplayer features are simply an extra on top of a solid singleplayer experience. And that’s what I want to read about – the singleplayer experience! How’s regional play? Are the transportation options varied enough? Are they all viable? Is there any technological progression? There was oil mentioned, can I evolve my city into an ecological paradise with zero oil usage? What about terraforming?

  31. The JG Man says:

    That was a really fun article to read, very amusing!

    The problem I have, as is probably shared in the echo chamber of the internet, is that I don’t want to play Sim City the way Maxis wants me to play it. Perhaps I owe it to myself to pick up 4 and get some mods (which, again, the internet tells me is a good idea). It’s just a few changes though that really stop me from getting something I was initially excited for; if I could just have unlimited offline maps, which I could save to and load from as much as I wanted, I’d be okay with this. I like the idea of the multiplayer regions, I think it’s great, but for all the options the games offers, it seems this one basic one is something they can’t (won’t) do. It’s such a shame, but unless that gets added, I just can’t see myself playing this.

    • syndicatedragon says:

      Totally agreed. If it had unlimited offline maps, saving/loading, terraforming tools, and at least the transportation options offered in 4 (highways, subways), I’d buy it in a heartbeat.

  32. Fox89 says:

    Firstly, thank you Cara for a great article. One of the most enjoyable pieces to read in a while and really informative. From a game dynamics perspective, I am really looking forward to this game.

    So I suppose all that remains is that question of the Always-Online. I’ve become a little more accepting towards This Sort of Thing lately; I don’t like the practice – don’t get me wrong – but I think maybe it isn’t quite as bad as we like to make out.

    Games are changing. More stuff is online, more stuff is distributed digitally, more stuff is multiplayer. And more stuff is embracing the idea of games ‘as a service’. It’s not so different to a model that already exists – there have been plenty of games that use dedicated multiplayer servers and, after a few years, these get shut down and that element of the service becomes unavailable. You might make the point that single player is a different kettle of fish, and that’s fair enough, but at the end of the day the multiplayer element is still part of what you paid for, but it is an element that you accept at the beginning is likely to go away one day and it tends not to cause too much fuss and bother when that happens.

    So for me this new model is changing the way I think about ‘purchasing’ the game. I am not buying a “copy” of “the game”, I am buying an access pass for the game, which comes with certain limitations. Do I like it? Not particularly. It gives EA power over my single player experience. But is it enough of a deterrent to me to stop me paying out?

    Probably not, although I’m not the kind of guy who would be playing this on the go or in another country – my play will be mostly limited to my house with a pretty consistent 60mb internet connection. Obviously others mileage may vary. So there we go, I am not going to try and argue that EA should be praised for this move, because from a consumer’s perspective at least it is very dumb and very frustrating. But that’s all it is: dumb. Not a flagrant contravention of your intrinsic gamer rights.

    • Brise Bonbons says:

      It’s not just games. I recently bumped into Adobe’s new (as of last year) business model for their products, where they explicitly push you towards buying “subscriptions” to applications like Photoshop for $20 a month. Or, you can subscribe to their cloud service with its synced online storage and other fluff for another $10. At least there they let you buy the boxed copy, if you insist, but there are reports that only the premium cloud subscribers are getting certain new features and improvements.

      It’s really getting damned ridiculous. My wife and I have used Photoshop and other Adobe products for decades, but she switched to Pixelmator and I’ve moved over to the Gimp and Inkscape. Unfortunately there are not many small team/open source alternatives to Sim City…

      • maximiZe says:

        Good thing that, unlike a graphics editing software depending on your profession and/or hobby, you don’t need a city builder video game for anything besides entertainment. If you don’t like a game’s business practices the only thing to do is financially support one of the countless other titles one the market instead of making excuses for buying the one with a business model you don’t want to see more of.

    • Consumatopia says:

      If you take my money for a full-priced copy of a boxed game, and someday you’re planning to flip a switch and deactivate the single player mode of that game, that’s a slimy, dishonest thing to do. Not all, or even most, likely SimCity players are reading blogs and magazine to understand the restrictions of the new business model–they likely have no idea that there is any sort of new business model. They buy a game, they think it’s theirs.

      Maybe if EA were selling SimCity as a “Five-Year” product or something–if the game’s limited lifespan were made explicit, then this wouldn’t be dishonest. But they’re keeping completely mum about how long this game will keep working.

      The problem is not a new business model, the problem is dishonesty.

    • Vercinger says:

      I can’t help but be disgusted at that comment. I can understand people being uninformed, it’s how most humans are about most topics. But when you know you’re being screwed and actually agree to it… I don’t know what to say.

      • Fox89 says:

        Well how are we defining “being screwed” here? If I go to the cinema and pay £8 my total entertainment experience is two hours. If I buy SimCity for £50 I can expect about 5 years.

        It would be great if that £50 lasted forever, sure. A lot of games allow that. DVDs allow that, it’s what we’re used to. But still, when the money I’ve handed over is about enough for one tank of petrol, I just can’t reasonably say to myself that I’m getting ripped off. That £50 has still stretched a long way.

        And this is assuming that when it is time to switch the servers off, they don’t patch in the capability to run offline. Which itself is not a far-fetched possibility.

      • Answermancer says:

        I can understand disliking the always-online, I can’t understand the sheer amount of hate and judgment leveled not only at the game but even at fellow gamers who don’t happen to mind it (!). That’s just insanely rude to me.

        Listen. I don’t care about the game being always online, I just don’t. I’m not HAPPY about it, but I am indifferent, it doesn’t bother me in any way, and everything else about the game is exactly what I’m looking for (including the new coop region mode, something I desperately wanted in SC4).

        I will pay for it, and I will enjoy it. I will enjoy it together with my friends, and I will be pleased that the team that worked on it got paid for their effort.

        If the online-only aspect is a something you dislike, that’s great, I can understand that. So don’t buy it! But calling people “disgusting” because they disagree with you is… well, it’s disgusting, IMO ;P

  33. D3xter says:

    I’d like to remind you that Sim City does not only have Always-Online DRM, and Day-1 DLC which RPS already reported about, but presumably also comes with Microtransactions: http://www.gameranx.com/updates/id/12506/article/simcity-to-have-in-game-store/
    At least according to this leaked Sim City manual: http://www.scribd.com/doc/121736732/Leaked-Simcity-manual
    That says:
    “Click the banner on the main menu to enter the SimCity Store. Here, you’ll find special add- ons for sale. Select STORE to view the full list of additional game content (both free and paid) that can provide you with new gameplay possibilities.”

    I guess that is what is being referred to in the article by:
    “We are looking at this SimCity as a live service and something we plan to support after launch with new content, polish and everything that goes with a live service.”

    It’s like the Trifecta of Terror for PC Gaming combined together into one game, oh and it’s obviously also Exclusive to Origin.

    • Mario Figueiredo says:

      This is the second time I see you mentioning this. I wonder if RPS is actively trying to find what is going on, or are they just waiting for the news to sit on their lap.

      Certainly this is the one thing I was trying to find on this Hands On. Not even one reference to it. Nothing. “It’s not true”, “It’s true”, or “we couldn’t find yet”. Nothing. Just a whole big “Uh! What is a microtransaction?”

    • Wowza says:

      If there’s also free content, I don’t see a problem with it.

    • Low Life says:

      Well that’s good, an in-game implementation for DLC is much better than a separate process (like buying Civ 5 DLC from Steam [I don't remember if Civ 5 also offers the possibilty of buying said DLC in-game]).

  34. NathanH says:

    What horrified me most about this article was not the cavalier attitude to concerns about servers being switched off, nor even the silence about the problems of servers going down. No, the most horrifying thing was clearly the writer’s assertion that kissing people is a more worthwhile use of time than optimizing virtual cities. This sort of enemy-of-gaming twaddle has no place on a serious gaming site!

    • Brise Bonbons says:

      Come come, end this talk of enemies. To min-max face or min-max city is not the question; for surely we can do both at once!

      If you are worried about being distracted, just turn the speed to lowest on your partner’s face.

      • LionsPhil says:

        I’m now trying to remember if it was GAMER or ZONE that used to have the concept of MAXIMUM FACE when presented with a character customization screen, but this is clearly the solution.

    • MacTheGeek says:

      Any city planner worth their salt knows that min-maxing ‘kissyface’ is an essential precursor to long-term population growth.

    • Kamos says:

      MINMAXFACE.

  35. Premium User Badge

    tumbleworld says:

    Looks great.

    Not going to touch it with a bargepole. Enough with the “YOU ARE ALL SCUM! NOW PAY US!” online-only nonsense.

    Never again.

  36. Sp4rkR4t says:

    These are my exact thoughts after playing the beta, I love the game and am mightily impressed by how well thought out it is and just how alive it feels but I can’t bring myself to give EA the money for it and this is going to piss me right off as there simply isn’t another game out there like this.

  37. Drake Sigar says:

    I would rather scoop out my eyes with rusty spoons and gobble them down (the eyes, not the spoons) than buy Sim City: Five Year Rental.

  38. Tei says:

    The “only 2km” map size has completelly killed all the hype I had. I was not happy with the price (to expensive) but combined with the size make it look like a “light” version of Sim City designed to cater to “Sims” players.

    • Lanfranc says:

      As a Sims player myself, could I just ask WTF that is supposed to mean?

      • Vercinger says:

        If he was being cynical, he most likely meant casuals. In a bad way.

        If he wasn’t being cynical, he most likely meant players who enjoy smaller-scale, more personal management, as opposed to the serious business that is Sim City. Typing that made me want to read a comparison between this game and Sim City Societies, which was EA’s earlier attempt of a middle ground between Sim City and The Sims. It actually wasn’t a bad game, but was doomed the moment someone at EA decided it would carry the Sim City name. You can’t make a spin-off, advertise it as a sequel and expect it to be successful.

  39. Prime says:

    But are you willing to have EA arbitrate when and for how long you can play this after you have paid your money?

    *sweet smile* No. Fuck off, EA.

  40. Premium User Badge

    piphil says:

    “It’s in your interests, as PC gamers, to participate in this game and its multiplayer options, because it is entertaining, solid, engaging in its systems and interfaces.”

    Rubbish.

    I wonder how many gamers replied “I want a city simulator which is multiplayer, always-online, and may be unplayable in 5 years time due to DRM restrictions!” when asked by EA when the game was being developed? I would guess very few. I’m assuming frankly they didn’t ask.

    Yes, it can be counter-productive to produce games simply based on what gamers want – you sometimes have to make a jump in that regard to produce innovative games, unless you want to churn out endless first person shooters. But to ask gamers to spend money and invest time in a game because “it’s good for them” is a bit much. Yes if everyone buys the game they’ll keep the servers online a bit longer but at the end of the day my SimCity is gone once EA turn off the lights at the datacenter.

    I’d love a new SimCity, and the systems employed here look pretty good. I probably won’t buy it though, for the sins of i) always on DRM, ii) pre-release DLC, and iii) being multiplayer in a genre that doesn’t require it.

    • Berzee says:

      All the stuff you said I think fall under the “As a consumer” part of the article.
      (Not that “Just The Game vs. The Game Product” is the only way to divide things, but the argument in the article seems to run, “The game is fun, so if you like games you’ll probably like this while you’re playing it…but as a long-term possession it will potentially annoy you.”)

      Hard for me to say…I’m not even sure I like City Simulators. =)

    • Kamos says:

      You’d think the reason why someone names a game after an older, previous game, simply incrementing a number, is to let people know that they share a similar set of design principles and game mechanics. In reality, games don’t even need to be in the same genre for that (i.e. Fallout 2 and 3).

  41. Jake says:

    It looks like a nice game, but I’m not sure it will be much of a replacement for SimCity 4. SimCity 4 had regions too, and it had apparently much larger areas to build, but more importantly it had a huge amount of assets (especially if you use the amazing amount of mods) and you could really make cities with ‘distinct and differing personalities’ which is really all I want to do. As a sandbox that lets you tweak and build to your hearts content, SimCity 4 is pretty much unparalleled (although Rollercoaster Tycoon 3 is my personal preference). Every screen shot of this new SimCity looks quite boring in comparison. I don’t mind a smaller sandbox so long as there is still enough stuff you can tweak, but it looks like there won’t be enough building options to keep it interesting.

  42. terry says:

    A very good preview and almost my thoughts playing the beta to a tee. I could see it being a wonderful city simulator at some point but the heavy emphasis on co-op play (which wasn’t available in the beta for whatever reason) put me off, and whatever pricing structure EA has planned for DLC or expansion is still very unclear. I get that they’re pushing this as a expansible platform like the Sims series has become, but the truth is I don’t feel any of those changes benefit the game. My experience of installing even 2 or 3 Sims expansions (which isn’t a huge number given how many there are) is that the game becomes bogged down with extraneous crap and frequently introduce problems that EA fails to address and have to be fixed in community patches. I’m dubious that the architecture of this game even allows for user modifications – I’d guess that would play havok with their leaderboard systems.

    I’m willing to give the benefit of the doubt because the design team are exceptional and Simcity is dear to my heart, but I can’t help feeling that these features are being foisted on players as a business reality and not in the service of being a better experience. I guess time will tell.

  43. fw190a8 says:

    For all those in the comments above who’ve expressed a desire to pirate the game to get around the always-on DRM, what do you think to pirating the game, then sending some money to Maxis? £30 say, the cost of a new retail game.

    It seems like EA are the cause of the issues and complaints here, but obviously a lot of hours have gone into making this game at Maxis, and out of all the previews I’ve read, none have made me believe the game itself is anything short of excellent fun.

    This way, at least you’d be getting the DRM-free game you want, and also supporting the developer.

    • mactenchi says:

      Maxis hasn’t existed as an independent entity for a long time now. I don’t think what you’re proposing would have any effect other than to encourage EA to continue with such nonsense.

  44. Milky1985 says:

    “It’s in your interests, as PC gamers, to participate in this game and its multiplayer options, because it is entertaining, solid, engaging in its systems and interfaces. It is a pleasurable thing to take part in, and I think really adds something to the gaming landscape. But are you willing to have EA arbitrate when and for how long you can play this after you have paid your money? I think only you as a consumer can answer that. That is the position they are putting us in.”

    How is it in our interests to support another game locked to servers for no other reason than the company wants control over our use of the product.

    How is it in our interests to support a service that can and , based on previous behavior, will be shut down 6 months after a sequel is out.

    Shurly its in the consumers interest to not buy it to say “No , we want the game but not under these conditions”, its the start of another slippery slope that needs stopping before the ball gets rolling so far we can’t stop it. Its happened before with other things in the gaming market (DLC, microtransations, servers based games that shut 6 months down the line etc) so why should we give them our money and sign a contract that is MASSIVELY favored towards EA.

  45. Azazel says:

    The thing to do in Aberdeen would be to build a cathedral called ‘Buckfast Abbey’.

  46. JimTheDog says:

    I like the review. I like the sound of the game. The price they want me to pay for it makes me cringe.

    So tempted…

    … Could RPS maybe twist EA’s arm into dropping the price? :D? Magic RPS powers activate?

  47. Calculon says:

    I did manage to play the Beta (the 1 hour play time Beta) that came out a short time ago, and I have to say that I was a little frustrated at the controls.

    What irked me was that I couldnt see the depth of the zones. In Sim City 4 and others, when placing a zoning tile, it was evident what the width, depth and “direction” of the zone tile was. In SimCity 5 – at least the version I played, there was no way to determine the depth. Therefore I was constantly struggling to “stack” or place groups of tiles or a zone efficiently in order to maximize space usage, and road layout.

    They do have these nifty little dotted lines that show approximately where the roads should go in order to provide guidance on zone depth, however I found that buggy. When wanting to place a horizontal rode, I couldnt get the horizontal guide lines to appear, so my roads ended up crooked, and an inefficient use of space. I had to place my cursor over a pre-existing veritical road structure to get it to appear, and then quickly move to lay the road down before those nifty dotted lines dissapeared.

    I also struggled with the power management. Generating power that isnt being used is a waste, but I could find no way to reduce the power at my plant (a la Sim City 4) in order to save money.

    Overall I didnt enjoy playing actually – it quite turned me off to the game which I was a shoe in to purchase prior to trying the beta.

  48. Advanced Assault Hippo says:

    *adds self to ever-expanding list of PC gamers who would love to play it but never will*

    Looks really nice though.

  49. TooNu says:

    To buy this is madness and foolish of a PC Gamer. Which means it will be a successful title if history has taught us anything. Then people will complain and bitch and moan about it in droves on every internet community site available, and then RPS will run an article regarding “Simcity” “ea” “trust” “never again” “we as gamers blaa blaa blaa” but with some clever pun title.

    Some time later EA will release another game and the cycle will repeat.

  50. MOKKA says:

    Almost 4 years. I haven’t bought an EA title for almost 4 years and now I’m considering it and it even has always online-DRM. So far it was easy to follow my principles as the past EA title never seemed interesting. But now they’re going to be put to a test, and I hate it.