Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.
Often it seems like publishers care less about the quality of a game and more about whether that game can represent other initiatives within the company. Microsoft cares momentarily about Kinect or Windows 10 or cross-platform play, and so Lionhead’s otherwise unrelated games are bent and twisted to suit those initiatives. EA care about Origin and data and services, so SimCity is twisted to serve those masters even if it means smaller cities and no offline play.
I am disappointed by both those things, and I can be frustrated on your behalf, but personally my internet works well enough that being always online never hampered my time with SimCity. And my time with SimCity was pleasant. The cities are smaller than ever before, but they’re also more detailed in many ways.
Consequently, SimCity is a brilliant antfarm. I always like watching my little people drive and walk around, and SimCity lets me do that in a beautiful, 3D, tilt-shifted world, where you can also watch the water and poop flow and visualise the data of your city with umpteen other overlays. It’s a terrible shame the little people don’t walk to their own house every day, choosing instead the closest vacant property to sleep in, but it still looks amazing when you zoom out and watch everything buzzing away beneath you.
And otherwise, it’s much the same as SimCity has always been: a compulsive loop of trying to balance the needs of your city as necessary expansion continues to make that perfect balance harder and harder. If I was to recommend a SimCity game to you today, it’d be SimCity 4. If I was to recommend a city builder to you today, it’d be Cities: Skylines. But I played SimCity and I had fun.