By Graham Smith on November 15th, 2013 at 5:00 pm.
This might be the wrong crowd for this, but I thought the recent SimCity was a good game. I’m looking forward to playing the Cities of Tomorrow expansion. I’m glad it’s out today, and I like this intro trailer.
Come on Rock, Paper, Shotgun. Want to fight me? Let’s take this below.
Released in March, SimCity was released to considerable controversy, which was covered in great and unrelenting detail on this very site. The criticisms were fair: the marketing around the game’s simulation was misleading; the online mode was inhibitive and the reasoning behind it dishonest; the queues to access the game upon launch were frustrating and shortsighted; the limited city size was a disappointment. I do not deny fans their anger.
But I had fun playing it.
I like city building games. I prefer them to play it straight, with a modern day setting. In other words, the often excellent Anno games can only scratch that itch so much. But I like watching an ant farm teeming with simulated life, and sticking my finger in to watch it shape around me. The queues went away. The worst of the bugs were fixed. The simulation was limited in much the same way as the previous SimCity games I loved – there’s a reason SimCity 4‘s first expansion was called Rush Hour and devoted solely to traffic – only now its machinations were more visible, more mesmerizing.
Eventually, when I began to bristle at the small city sizes, when I felt like I couldn’t be creative any further within its confines, when I started to fall through the remaining holes in its simulation, I stopped playing. And then I looked back and realised I’d had more than 30 hours of clumphing entertainment out of the game. It wasn’t great, but it wasn’t awful either. Not as awful as the issues that swirled around it.
Cities of Tomorrow’s future setting makes it a little left of what I want out of the genre, but its new building types and resources may prove a neat solution to the small area size of each city. As in, by tossing reality out in favour of science fiction, you can have buildings that link together in new ways and make more interesting use of small spaces. But who knows. It may also come soaked in a thin coating of old lady’s blood, smelling of death and haunted by ghosts.