EA and developer Maxis want to lull gamers into a false sense of security with the latest iteration of SimCity. Visually, the game looks like an adorable miniature model, due to the tilt-shift filter featured in the game (a feature that can be adjusted or even turned off). Just as whimsical is the background music, which is soothing, playful, and magical.
As a part of last weekend's beta test, EA gave me access to play through a tutorial, and build my own city, so I set aside an afternoon in anticipation of a relaxing ride through a couple of make-believe towns. It had been a while since I played my last SimCity game (more like a decade, perhaps?), but I was certain it would be less stressful than playing Black Ops 2.
I could not have been more wrong. But make no mistake – SimCity is indeed a fun, delightful game to play, but it rarely eases off of the gas pedal. In the tutorial, the player is introduced as the new mayor of a pre-existing city, but one that is filled with problems due to the mismanagement of the previous mayor.
As a tutorial, it succeeds in teaching the basics of the game by throwing players right into the fire. Nearly every part of the city’s infrastructure was in disarray, and the helpful mayor’s assistant had a new job for me to do as soon as one job was finished. Whether it was re-building a main road, zoning additional residential areas, or re-establishing fire and sewage services, each facet of the city needed my attention.
What the tutorial also taught me was that even after building my own city from the ground up, every asset of the city is subject to failure, so keeping a close eye on alerts from my citizens and my assistant before issues started piling up was pivotal to keeping the city intact, and your Sims happy.
It’s also important to note that working with other cities is also crucial to the gameplay. Neighboring cities can serve as examples on how to better grow your own city, but more importantly, you can outsource services to other cities.
There is an incredibly high level of management that you can engage in, and they can get pretty granular. For instance, managing taxes and seeing your city’s budget balanced is a finer point in the gameplay, and ignoring it can lead to some dire consequences for your city.
When natural disasters and other exciting moments are introduced to the game, as you would expect, things only get more hectic. Ultimately, SimCity has such a calming exterior, but balances that quite nicely with simple, yet frantic gameplay.
SimCity is set for release March 5, 2013. For more information on SimCity, click on over to the official website.