By Nathan Grayson on October 16th, 2013 at 8:00 pm.
In case you hadn’t heard/forgot/suffered from such a severe case of apathy that you did the human brain equivalent of a driver rollback, SimCity is going to the future. Yeah, it’s still gonna be tethered to the Internet’s infinite, un-flinching tangle of roots, but at least now you’ll have hover tech, environmentally friendly mega-towers, and curvy utopia buildings to compliment all your curved roads. Also, choking sink holes of pollution and corporate control, if a new video walkthrough of a potential city setup is any indication. Omega is a new resource that everyone and their ant-sized, Simlish-barking dog wants, and OmegaCo’s job is to build factories and franchises while also making sure we know its iron-fisted execs really, really liked Blade Runner.
So there’s a potential city array. In short, the academy dreams up crazy newfangled tech, the Omega sector vacuums up money and belches out smog, and the residential mega-towers ensure that everyone’s lungs don’t shut down in protest by the ripe old age of 15. OmegaCo, meanwhile, turns factories into lucrative franchises, and you can theoretically siphon the resulting cash into researching cleaner, safer solutions. Or you can opt to grow your corporation and your bank account until the whole of sim society is squirming futilely under your thumb.
The entire system is an obvious commentary on industry, and it’s somewhat surprisingly cynical in its purest form – especially given who’s publishing the game.
“You can see how Omega spreads across your city almost like a virus… but a good virus… that makes you rich. And, yes, Omega has been known to be quite toxic, but that’s only if it’s stored improperly!”
“The next step, of course, is converting residential buildings to OmegaCo subscribers. That’s where drone technology shines. With the vast amounts of simoleons you’ve made from Omega, you can now invest in shelling out new OmegaCo BuyDrones to every man, woman, and child in the city. As with Omega, the first few drones are free, but at a certain point those residences start paying you hourly subscription fees.”
Hurrah for all-conquering drone armies. You can more or less make all residences and businesses Omega-dependent, if you want. However, the industry won’t last forever, and societies once entirely reliant on the stuff will be left fuming rage in its wake. As previously mentioned, academies and mega-towers can mitigate or replace Omega-based endeavors altogether, and you can read more about their ins-and-outs here and here. IS THIS AN ANALOG FOR RAMPANT, DISGUSTING CONSUMERISM AND FOSSIL FUELS I DON’T KNOW I CAN’T TELL. But then, I suppose EA’s never been much for subtlety. And hey, I don’t mind what Maxis is trying to say, even if it makes Watch_Dogs’ panicked observations about surveillance and The Division’s fear of, er, anthrax money look like nuanced critique.
So then, Cities of Tomorrow has some, er, interesting wrinkles, but will they actually be of any consequence? I sure hope so, given that SimCity’s razzle-dazzle platter of interlocking systems utterly failed to even be the sum of its parts – let alone more. I’m still incredibly skeptical myself, but I suppose it would be nice to at least have a game that’s actually worth all the connection woes this time.