SimCity 4

Snap249_1SC4 has all the depth and joy you’d expect.

In 1989, after being turned down by numerous publishers, Wright and Jeff Braun founded Maxis in order to self-publish the original SimCity. Released that year, the game has gone to sell millions of copies, becoming one of the most popular strategy series ever. The fourth iteration of the game predictably continues that trend.. With an all new graphics engine and enough options to build the metropolis of your dreams, SimCity 4 stumps everything that came before it.

The game is rife with advancements, but at its most basic level it’s still the same city builder that came out decades ago. You’re essentially a god-emperor mayor, able to shape landscapes at a whim. On a micro level you lay down roads, rails, power lines and generally see to the basic needs of an urban infrastructure. What you can’t control is the flow of sims (people) flooding into your town, but do a good job of planning out the city and they’ll come in droves – together with their invaluable tax money to keep your building addiction well funded.

This is essentially what SimCity 4 is all about, and it’s as fun as any other game in the series. Just like in earlier renditions, there are three basic types of zones (housing, commercial, and industrial) with three types of densities (low, medium, and high), all with varying costs. Laying out a zone is easier than before, since they now include roads across tiles to keep from accidentally setting up sections without road access. Mayors who want a more micro-managed approach can draw out their roads first, and then place the zones.

Snap238_1A number of new integrated features grace this title, including an ability to import characters from The Sims games into your city. By assigning Sims a place to live, you can track them through their daily lives and contact them for key insight into how well your city is running. While you won’t be able to manage your Sims directly, just having them around can be useful, and often fun when you throw in a few disasters. Don’t want to install the original SimCity you say? No problem. You can create a family in directly in SC4.

The concept of neighbors has greatly been expanded as well in SimCity 4. In earlier versions you’d be approached by nearby towns and get offered trade deals. In SC4 the player now controls each neighboring city. The regional view brings players an overview of the land and a layout of city locations. Placing cities close together means the success (or failure) of cities becomes linked.

Snap208_1The interface in SimCity 4 has never been in better shape. There’s a wealth of information at your fingertips, from advisor input to detailed maps on demographics such as education, age, and Sim health that allow mayors to plan and design their city to attract a specific target of business or citizen. You can spend money on a top-notch education system to promote high-tech (and pollution-free) industry, or zone agricultural land and low-density housing to build a more rural community with white picket fences.

Each SimCity game brought impressive advancements to the table, expanding each of its basic concepts whilst keeping it all fun. SimCity 4 is no exception, with Maxis once again outdoing themselves in providing the quintessential city builder.

System Requirements: Pentium III 500 Mhz, 128 MB RAM, 8 MB Video, Win98/XP

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