Simcity Review: Worth the Server Problems?

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After a decade long wait, Maxis is back with their latest addition to the addicting and soul devouring urban planning franchise known as Simcity. The 2013 installation of the game comes packed with intricate and minute controls that promise the building of truly unique cities. No doubt you will instantly be struck in awe seeing an abandoned plot of land quickly transform into a teeming metropolis. Whether you want to be a leader in green technology or another ozone polluter, there are so many directions one can take and capitalize on. Freedom apparently comes with limitations however. Read or watch the video review below to find out how nicely or not-so-nicely EA executed the online DRM format.

Wanna Be a Pro? Go Solo!

It became incredibly clear to me from the get-go that the game really does push one to embrace the online format. If you really want an “insanity mode” the solo option, or what is known as “playing a private region,” is the way to go. Soloing the game is both a satisfying and aggravating experience. It is incredibly hard to dive headfirst into specializations like tourism or mining if you don’t already have key infrastructure set up. Thankfully, there is a great volunteer/gifting mechanic that allows you to share resources between other cities in the region even if you are the only person who has claimed each one. Once you have your necessities in place the game is a barrel of fun. Upgrades can be performed so easily (such as instaclicking a road to increase its density) and you don’t necessarily have to spam the map with city services in order to keep the populace happy. It is toward a city’s zenith that things start to careen out of control and the effect is compounded upon if careful planning was not made beforehand.


C'mon, ain't he cute?
C’mon, ain’t he cute?

I really enjoy the twist offered by disasters in Simcity. They each have a real zany quality to them but are believable nonetheless. Utilities like Nuclear Power Plants come with the risk of the meltdown disaster and force you to make your decisions wisely when using such resources. Disasters can hit at inopportune times (don’t they always) and can really ruin hours of work. Still, a risk free development zone would become boring quite quickly. Sadists who desire to truly terrorize their populace will not be rewarded right away. Players have to earn the disasters they desire in order to unleash them on their poor innocent citizens. One particular favorite of mine is the homage to lizard cinema titan Godzilla.

DRM Woes and Bugs Galore

The downfall of this superb city sim is the god awful always-online-DRM format. If a server that you have cities on is down you are locked out for days at a time and may lose your city completely if you are unlucky. The DRM menace also often strikes mid game and heaven forbid you accidentally shut the game down when the banner of doom drops down from the top left corner. It boggles the mind why EA and Maxis lopped off any possibility for offline single player when the game easily can function in such a way. DRM issues aside, you also will have a slew of annoying bugs to deal with when you fire up the game. The ones that come to mind the most are inefficient recycle trucks, emergency vehicles that obey traffic laws (SINCE WHEN WAS THIS ACCEPTABLE?), and poor path finding AI. When any of these issues hits, the enjoyment of the fantastic city building experience is instantly killed.

Simcity for the PC is a game with so much potential down the line. It is a shame that the problematic launch has turned away countless eager mayors. In time the game may truly develop into a gem but for now it is an unstable hot mess. I will keep the rating of this review open (which is something I rarely do). If the glaring issues are attended to effectively, Simcity is easily a top class offering from the brilliant minds at Maxis.

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