Maxis' Lucy Bradshaw (senior VP and GM) invites you into her living room to watch some Sim City on her enormous telly. Originally broadcast live at some point during last night, it's an hour and seventeen minutes of all things Sims and SimCity. It's below, and I've highlighted the parts you'll want to watch.
It's all rather awkward, really. Presented on a big theatre stage, but with no audience, it creates the atmosphere of a dress rehearsal that really isn't going so well. And like a parent not letting a kid have their dessert until they've eaten their vegetables, we're made to sit through the latest aesthetic tweaks that have been made to the aging Sims 3 - weather! - before we're allowed to see the game that isn't actually out yet. So desperate are they to make sure you didn't walk off until they were done that they filled the broadcast with secret magic words that you were supposed to gather to win prizes. Well, that's all yesterday, and we can skip ahead. Or you can watch two men being absolutely enamoured by the idea of cleaning up a pile of leaves in a pretend garden.
Skipping forward is quite the experience. Jump to a pie-eating contest... Jump to an alien sim telepathically draining the motives of NPCs... A magical weather stone... And don't forget the Curtis Paradis Show! An over-rehearsed chat-show format, where the presenter has no mic, and the three 'guests' share one mic. I want to take them all aside and give them a cuddle. None of them asked to be TV presenters - they're game developers and producers.
But, leap ahead to 37 minutes and you can finally find some content on SimCity. And at last it's some detailed, in-game footage, showing running cities as well as the very basics of road and zone building. The core bit you'll want to watch runs from then until 46 minutes.
Also, jump to 1.05 to see the first revealed disaster. Or, er, watch the entire thing for another one.
I'm encouraged to see how much it looks like it plays like Sim City 2000. Fears of things being over-simplified, or streamlined to the point of casual play, look like they can be put aside. Worrying about sewage is proof enough. I often feel like I've no desire to ever return to management games, and then watching this I find that itch returning.
Other key info in there is that cities will be 2km by 2km, and there definitely won't be terraforming. This is justified by the landscapes being "puzzles", where figuring out how to build on a terrain is part of the challenge. There will be rivers, lakes, etc, along with boat transpot. But no subways! And they confirm that the multiplayer nature of the game means that letting people build their city near yours could mean your game suffers from their pollution, crime, etc. Which makes the idea of sharing seem less pleasant. However, should a neighbour abandon their city, you could eventually take it over.
There's still no date on when the beta starts, which is a shame, but it's still scheduled to be released in February next year.