Sim City 2000 Is 20 Years Old And Free

Last year’s SimCity was, in the end, pretty average. Its launch and the outright bullshit that EA span around it was a disaster, but the game was simply a quite disappointing entry in a formerly brilliant series. And I’d argue it was never any more brilliant than in Sim City 2000. Which makes it splendid news that just now, Sim City 2000 is free!

Free on Origin. Which, at this point, you might as well give up and accept. It and Uplay are obviously hideously put together pieces of infernal annoyance, but so long as you’re never loopy enough to actually buy anything through their ludicrously over-priced stores, it’s not endless torture to install to get free stuff. And Sim City 2000, while clearly readily available at bargain prices all over for many years, is not to be sniffed at.

The original Sim City was a brilliant thing, but is extremely clunky now. And obviously the series moved on in leaps and bounds, but 2000 remains the definitive entry for me. It’s the one I played until the entire grid was arcologies, my Sims living in utter utopia.

At twenty years old (oh my aching linearity), you’ll not be surprised to learn it’s a little weary. And disappointingly, EA hasn’t given it a technological overhaul for the release, instead popping it into DOSBox and hoping for the best. But it runs nicely here, and it’s still such a pleasure to lay down those roads and water pipes. Hop over here for a copy.


  1. TACD says:


    …oh. Ick.

    I’ll gladly pay the handful of change to GOG to own it sans Origin, with the added bonus of SCURK thrown in.

  2. spacedyemeerkat says:

    I remember buying this on release and thinking the graphics were sumptuous. Just delightful.

    • Great Cthulhu says:

      Oh man, I remember there being actual printed books about recreating real places in Sim City 2000. That game was a phenomenon in ’94!

    • Jams O'Donnell says:

      I still remember the guy at the game shop making sure that I was aware that I needed SVGA to run the game. SVGA! This was going to be some high-tech stuff.

    • Turkey says:

      I remember getting in a fight with another kid on the playground who described the graphics in Sim City 2000 as extravagant while I merely thought they were stupendous.

    • Sic says:

      I remember thinking they were shit in comparison with those of Transport Tycoon, which I procured around the same time.

      Still played it tons, though.

  3. mukuste says:

    Hmm… I could have sworn there must have been an open source recreation of the engine that you could simply plop the data files into to make it all modern like, like OpenTTD, but… Google turns up nothing…

    • Bugamn says:

      I think there’s an open source version of the first game, but not the second.

    • teije says:

      Great game this.

      And OpenTTD, I still have it and it plays awesomely. Well worth the download for anyone who loves to build crazy transportation networks.

  4. Oozo says:

    I loved this game to pieces. The only thing that I hated already back than: that tearing down buildings had to be done square by square. It was such an obvious oversight that I wondered even back then (and I was not that nitpicky yet) how nobody could have thought of a better way of doing that.

  5. wyrm4701 says:

    I’ve managed to avoid Origin and Uplay this long, a free twenty-year-old game is not going to change that, no matter how great it is.

    (And it is a great game)

    • eggy toast says:

      Agreed, although if its possible to uninstal Origin and still have a working Sim City 2k I might bother

    • Guvornator says:

      Origin isn’t THAT bad, assuming you don’t mind EA rummaging around inside your PC. UPlay is dreadful.

      • shutter says:

        Origin doesn’t rummage around your PC in any meaningful way. The most invasive thing it does is report back some ultra basic info like what version of OS you run. EA’s legal dept is actually hyper-conservative on privacy issues, to the point where a number of feature gaps between Origin and Steam are due to EA legal believing that features that are live on Steam run afoul of privacy regulations (despite no regulator showing the slightest interest in coming after Valve for them).

      • Dean478 says:

        Origin as software is okay. As an entity, it’s pathetic. Their customer service is near absent. I had to take EA Australia to a business tribunal before they reinstated my copy of Mass Effect 3 that they unlawfully banned. Was the action not only unlawful, it was incorrect.

        And all I received after 12 months of no due process and paid phone calls to EA’s Australian support hot line was an insincere and apologetic e-mail filled with signature code, typos and poor grammar.

        I’ll never use the service again.

    • UmmonTL says:

      I also managed to avoid origin so far with one exception. I installed it once in a virtual machine, not exactly sure if it was for a free game or an attemt at installing a pirated one. But whatever it was, that virtual hard drive has been deleted and the disk space formatted and salted to keep out the evil.

      But since VirtualBox is so very easy to use nowadays I’d say if you have to install origin, do it on a separate system.

  6. Laurentius says:

    Remember arcologies are causing crime.

  7. dethtoll says:

    That’s all well and good but you know what’s 21 years old today? Doom.

  8. Volcanu says:

    Loved this game.

    I got a huge cardboard ‘twinpack’ box with this and Theme Hospital in, for Christmas one year. A truly glorious combo. The manual alone for Sim City 2000 was the size of a novella. Ah, memories!

    For anyone who hasn’t played this one, Sim City 3000 probably makes more sense, as it’s basically a shinier, more polished version of 2k. Although it lacks some of the zany ‘future’ features like the arcologies.

    • Shiloh says:

      Likewise. Theme Hospital was fun, but Sim City was where it was at.

    • Rufust Firefly says:

      Maxis once put out amazing manuals. The one for SimAnt was almost a textbook.

      Though the best manual is probably the one for Homeworld–so, so good. (There’s a prospective RPS article, why don’t they make awesome manuals anymore…?)

  9. CKScientist says:

    When I was a kid I used to play Sim City 2000 with my friend. We were about 7, and we didn’t really understand how to play the game sustainably. We’d plonk down a city with all the utilities and just keep building and building until we ran out of money, at which point we’d take out a loan and repeat.

    Eventually, the banks would stop giving us loans. The city would go bankrupt, and it would be Game Over.


      This is how I played as well… until I discovered the money cheat.

  10. Wertymk says:

    Looks like it’s time to reticulate splines again.


  11. honuk says:

    “It and Uplay are obviously hideously put together pieces of infernal annoyance”

    so is steam, but hey, valve already bought everyone long ago, so now we have to smile and thank our lords for all the things they give us in their race to the bottom. I’ll be sure to pick up jim’s game the next time they throw it in a three dollar bundle.

    • Asurmen says:

      I use all 3 to various degrees. I wouldn’t discribe any of them as infernal. I might be the odd one out.

      • airmikee says:

        Yep, you’re the odd one out for not having an irrational hatred of a digital store.

        • Asurmen says:

          This IS RPS comments we’re talking about here. If it’s not one of a few untouchable games, devs or companies, it must be infernal work of the devil.

    • sonofsanta says:

      /waves at you from reality

      Steam has never annoyed me. Indeed, many is the time Steam has made me smile with its simplicity and ease of use and graceful ways.

      Origin and Uplay, however, are a right old pain in the bum every time. I bought ME3 on disc (it was cheaper) and when I put Disc1 in… it installed Origin then started trying to download everything. I had to get a trial of WinRAR to unpack the contents of the DVDs to the Origin download folder to fool it into thinking it had already downloaded 99% of the files and only needed the updates.

      So Origin and Uplay are infernal annoyances, Steam is not, and you are jumping at shadows my friend. Accusations of corruption are so pass√©, don’t you know? If nothing else, one would hope that RPS would sell out for something greater than this.

      • P.Funk says:

        A traial of Winrar? You’re trying to tell me that by the days of ME3 you still hadn’t secured a decent zip program?

        Aye yaye yaye


        /waves at you from actual reality, not your subjective one

        uPlay has only annoyed me once. Origin, never. Steam, constantly (though not for a long while, I’ll admit). The fact that you personally has never had any problems with it doesn’t mean no one ever will. The three programs have equal potential for being annoying (being barely-disguised DRM online checkers) but only Steam gets away scott free.

      • KenTWOu says:

        it installed Origin then started trying to download everything.

        Sounds like typical Steam story to me. Well, it was that way several years ago.

    • Advanced Assault Hippo says:

      The amount of bullsh*t peddled on this site is quite breathtaking at times.

      Origin is absolutely fine. If anything, as a game launcher, I have fewer problems with it than I do with Steam.

      Okay, Uplay is the worst of the 3 as a launcher, but I wish people would give up on the faux-negativity towards Origin. It’s ridiculous.

      I bet Valve must love this place….

      • Buffer117 says:

        I have to agree. I love Steam but throughout it’s lifetime I have not found it a stress free experience, it’s great but lets not forget Valves only real goal is to get your money.

        Origin is perfectly fine. I appreciate that they give me free games, they have even given me digital copies of older games I have discs for (Steam doesn’t do either) and I picked up Mass Effect 3 recently for ¬£2.50 as I had avoided it due to the game ending hate. Yes launch titles are expensive but when EA offers me games at good prices I’ll buy them.

        I have had no real issues installing games from Origin and I often find they download much quicker.

        Steams digital dominance is only a good thing while they look after us as consumers, I’ll often buy older games on rather than Steam because I know GOG will probably try to make it work on my PC, where as I read plenty of Steam reviews for older games that people complain about not working.

        Uplay on the other hand I don’t get, hugely expensive, can’t add my old DVD based copies to my library, It’s just an annoyance (At the minute).

        • derbefrier says:

          This ,the hate for origin is ridiculous. It works perefectly fine as a store front. Hell they even let you get refunds unlike steam. Customer. Service(the one time I had to deal with it) was quick and they apologized profusly for the issue and gave me a free game for my trouble. Downloading and launching games is as easy as….clicking a button. The only gripe I really have with origin is the store can run slow at times. Uplay is just horribly designed though and I don’t like it but even then it works and I can play my games.

          • Premium User Badge

            basilisk says:

            I’m reasonably sure that if you sat people who don’t know anything about PC gaming in front of Steam, Origin and Uplay and let them fiddle with them for a bit, they would be unable to tell why people hate two of them so much and which two these are.

          • Great Cthulhu says:

            Steam is the only one of the three that does localization properly. That is, it is the only one that never serves me content in the dominant language of whatever location I happen to be at, rather than in the language that I explicitly configured it to use.

            That in and of itself is sufficient reason for me to prefer it over the other two.

          • MadTinkerer says:

            “the hate for origin is ridiculous”

            I think calling the service “Literally What’s A Paladin” would at least be more self aware. I am more apathetic towards it than hateful at this point. Since I refuse to consider even installing it, I treat news of releases on Literally What’s A Paladin like news of releases on consoles I don’t own. New games on “Origin” just no longer matter to me.

        • Notelpats says:

          Well.. to be fair, the only games Origin gives away or does refunds on are EA games. On Steam everybody and their grandmother probably already owns every Valve game. Even so, I’m pretty sure there have been a few cases of free games on Steam (Portal and Red Orchestra 2 come to mind).

        • 5p. says:

          I use Steam much more than Origin, but frankly, Steam’s technical implementation has always struck me as unnecessarily clunky. Store pages tend to load much slower in the Steam client than in the web version, for instance, even though theoretically they should be exactly the same. The inventory glitches far too often for my liking. And for the longest time, logging into Steam would not log me into their store in the client itself; I had to log in twice if I wanted to buy anything – and, if memory serves, the second login would clear out the items that I’d put in the cart. (Granted, that last annoyance is now fixed. But the fact that it existed in the first place…)
          Now Steam is a more complex application than Origin, and I use it quite a lot more often so I’ve had more time to run up against its limitations. But that doesn’t change the fact that my annoyance:usage ratio is higher for Steam than for Origin.
          I haven’t used Uplay for anything other than launching Anno, so the only thing I can say about it is that it’s silly to have what amounts to an enormous interstitial launcher in between Steam and the game.

      • AlexV says:

        I’d rather not have to deal with any launcher that has to either be run or be running before I can play my game. However, given that these days I’d be limited to a small selection of indie or very old games, I must reluctantly accept that there must always be a persistent DRM launcher service running on my system. As some small compensation for that fact, I appreciate it having all my games in a neat list, kept up to date and easily available for download with a fast server and minimal fuss.

        Now I don’t particularly care *which* company provides this service, but I certainly don’t want more than one. I don’t want my games list arbitrarily split, I don’t want multiple launchers running in the background, and I very, very much do not want to wait while another launcher is started up, connects to its server, authenticates, and then deigns to run my game. So I will only ever have one DRM launcher service installed, and frankly Steam got there first.

  12. Yhamm says:

    on the French version of the site, you can also have Dead Space for free : link to

    • Beardy says:

      … which will only allow installation in French or German.

      • pepperfez says:

        Seems not understanding a word of what’s going on would rather enhance a horror experience.


          At least you wouldn’t have to suffer being told three times that the two characters who spend the entire opening arguing don’t much like each other and being told seven times to CUT OFF THEIR LIMBS.

  13. Jeroen D Stout says:

    The… the map size of Sim City 2000 is larger than … than…


  14. Ross Angus says:

    It’s worth noting that you need to install the game once within the free period, to keep it forever (this doesn’t take long, as it’s so small).

    • gschmidl says:

      Not even that, you just need to display the intent to download (i.e. you can cancel it).

      • Great Cthulhu says:

        I’m fairly certain you only have to order it from the store. I did so through the website and got an emailed receipt for 0 euros. Never installed the client.

        • airmikee says:

          Yeah, that’s the way Origin has always worked with their ‘On The House’ games. Just click ‘Get It Now’ and it’s mine. I’ve never had to install anything to keep it listed in my account.

        • Ross Angus says:

          Strange. I got a notification from within Origin telling me this. A receipt sounds legitimate though.

  15. padger says:

    I’ve never not had this installed on something.

  16. FreeTom says:

    I’m still a strong advocate of the SNES version of the original. It was made a bit less clunky and more user-friendly for the console market and remains a joy. It’s very easy to download the ROM and play it in an emulator but YOU DEFINITELY SHOULDN’T BECAUSE IT’S ILLEGAL.

    • B.rake says:

      Did it work with the SNES mouse? I had one, I think it came with Mario Paint, but don’t recall it working with any other games.

  17. Joshua Northey says:

    The SNES version of the original was a blast and 2000 is a game both my wife and I enjoyed as kids greatly. 3000 wasn’t enough better for me to care much, and I found 4 solid, but sadly the traffic emulation and things they could have improved from 2000 were not much better.

    The newer iterations are just abominations. And I was one of the people who was like “don’t hate it because its EA, give it a chance”. Boy was that a mistake.

  18. Hairball says:

    If only the superior, non-DOS version worked on modern machines…

    • pepperfez says:

      I’ve been thinking this exact thing and wondering about the practicality of a Win95 virtual machine.

  19. silentdan says:

    I wish people would give up on the faux-negativity towards Origin.

    I assure you, my Origin-directed negativity is entirely genuine. Can’t speak for anyone else.

    There are more games out there than I can play. I’m fine with EA walling itself off from my wallet. The line had to be drawn somewhere.

    • airmikee says:

      How is Origin so bad if you can’t even list a single reason why you don’t like it? Of the 20 games I have in my Origin account, I’ve only paid for 2. 18 free games can’t be all that bad, can it?

      • eggy toast says:

        I already have games come up in recommendations and find I own them from some long forgotten bundle purchase. It’s not like without those free games I won’t have any options.

        Just because I agreed to one stand alone client doesn’t mean I need to agree to all of them.

  20. Prime-Mover says:

    Man, there something just so sexy about that old school isometric style and tileset from games like Transport Tycoon and Simcity 2000. Everything fitting and just snapping in place, in a crisp predictable manner.

  21. Sublett says:

    Something something Origin is bad and you should feel bad!
    Meanwhile, I’ll enjoy this little tidbit of game and thank you for the heads up :)

  22. MadTinkerer says:

    “Free on Origin. Which, at this point, you might as well give up and accept.”

    Hah, you underestimate my convictions, sir. If EA changed the name, I’d consider it, but as it stands “Origin” is a terrible joke. Just a terrible, terrible joke.

    I think Inquisition was EA’s best possible attempt to get me to install Origin, and they failed. So whatever may get me to install “Origin”, it needs to be better than Dragon Age: Inquisition.

    • B.rake says:

      HOW ABOUT BEPEGGLED! Here, have some Plants Vs. FIFA: HARDLINE with that :D

  23. Premium User Badge

    wsjudd says:

    Pro tip John: Don’t zone more than three tiles away from roads; they’ll never be occupied! ;P

  24. P.Funk says:

    My strongest memory of Sim City 2000 is from when I was a young’un and my best friend, who was a westernized Japanese guy, brought his very not westernized Japanese cousin over who was visiting from Japan. He didn’t speak much english and there wasn’t much of a dialogue between us but then he saw I had the box for Sim City 2000 on my desk and indicated he wanted to play. So we sat him down and watched as he schooled me in how to build a city. The guy in 15 minutes did more than I could do at the time in 2 hours. It was amazing. The guy got airports up so damned fast.

    So there. Sim City 2000 gave me and some guy from the other side of the planet a way to connect. Neat.

  25. shutter says:

    Good to see that RPS’s outright bullshit over SimCity and EA is spinning as strong as ever.