Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.
By far the best SimCity has ever been.
Polished over the previous three games, SimCity 4 offers the perfect example of the series’ system of competing needs. Zone some residential, but now your residents need jobs; zone some industrial for them to work in, but now there’s crime and pollution and fire; place down police stations and fire stations and parks; but it’s never quite perfect, and they need shops to shop in, and– Let’s start a new neighbourhood over there, on that hill. This one will be perfect.
Soon you’ll have a sprawling metropolis – and there’s space to let it sprawl – which is bustling with life. SimCity 4 is also the series’ best ant farm, the sprite-based graphics causing the game to run slowly at the time but now making it crisp, beautiful and able to flood the screen with sims. I like to just watch my city work, sometimes – an experience helped by being able to drop in named Sims, either created specifically or imported from The Sims, and watch as they go about their daily lives in great detail.
Initially the game’s one big failing was its traffic simulation, which struggled with highways and bus routes and other modes of public transport, but much of that was fixed in the Rush Hour expansion and what wasn’t has been fixed or improved since by a still productive mod community. SimCity 4 stands today as one of the best city builders ever.