Planning Woes; Urban Development 101 Is In Session

The meat of the game is all SimCity; management, zoning, planning, and the new supply chain elements run counter to EA's Always-On philosophy. Avoid till server problems are fixed.

I think the most important thing to take away from these reviews, Critic and Consumer alike, is that SimCity is a solid game at the heart of things. Server troubles aside, SimCity certainly builds on its predecessors with a chain of resources mechanic and the need to constantly manage these resources in an effort to balance tax revenue with revenue from business ventures, shipping ventures, gambling, and tourism.

While these 'specializations' are limited they are certainly welcome to the series, and almost fit in as if they had been there all along. There's a familiar comfort in the interface, and ease of use for the new player (water and electricity management run along roads rather than independent pipes and wires). While the omission of some micromanagement is a casualty among old players, the game more than makes up for it in its continued focus on efficient resource management and space allocation.

That being said, a number of bedbugs spoil the honeymoon. What should've been a grand return to the forefront of simulation and management has instead become a slog through DRM sludge, connection issues, and just straight resistance from every force in the world, Heavenly or otherwise, to mayors playing the game. There was a day-one patch, a day-two patch, a bug where clients would be stuck downloading nonexistent updates, 'ghost servers' (where you could connect to a server just to be kicked off for a 'network issue', a 'connection issue', or because the server was never up in the first place).

I personally, have been unable to play the game from two different residences with stable internet connections for more than ten minutes each on day two. Apparently I have logged in six hours, but I highly dispute that number (or Origin counts the amount of time I spend cursing at SimCity as playtime). I hope for nothing more than resolution; I would prefer to have a working SimCity game on my computer than 60+ dollars of Origin credit.

Server issues aside, game play does suffer some setbacks. As mentioned earlier, power and water hookups are stunted, pared down to where the roads run. City size is stunted as well, with plans in the works to offer increased sizes later down the line with new regions. Because of the smaller size, it is very difficult to build and manage a city yourself, even a region under your control is difficult to manage (given that cities pause when you leave them; freight and raw materials don't move unless you're working the city that ships them out).

I'd hate to add speculation to this review, but I wouldn't put it below EA to offer regions with increased city size as premium content, given the fact that they released what I would consider a near-finished game in beta. Coupled with so-heinous-it-ought-to-be-a-crime-against-humanity wait for Origin support, as well as Origin's resistance to doling out refunds to unsatisfied customers, SimCity might be the biggest disappointment to me since Stone Temple Pilots most recent self-titled release. It's as if I have been sold a Jackson Pollack painting with a clause that the seller may throw a sheet over the painting at any time they so choose.


I would give the game an 8/10, but I am the professor and this is a very late assignment, EA.

And I hate late assignments

Our Rating
5
The meat of the game is all SimCity; management, zoning, planning, and the new supply chain elements run counter to EA's Always-On philosophy. Avoid till server problems are fixed.

Featured Contributor

Published Mar. 7th 2013
  • Amy White
    Former Editor in Chief
    Love this - fair, but totally honest.

    "I personally, have been unable to play the game from two different residences with stable internet connections for more than ten minutes each on day two." - Ouch...

    I also snort-laughed coffee when I got to your STP line. When I read your next piece, I'm putting down my drink first. ;)
  • L2112Lif
    Featured Contributor
    A... Sim City option, if you will.
  • L2112Lif
    Featured Contributor
    I know, which is why I couldn't give it the full eight. The biggest problem with Always-Online DRM, at least when it comes to reviewing, is that you are buying a service as well as a product... And it's difficult to review a service on the same basis as a game. That being said, I think it's fair to partition out part of a review for the service itself (Here I grabbed three points for game-breaking server problems on and after launch. I can see how one would consider this to be arbitrary, but you've got to consider three points pretty lenient for a game that was nigh unplayable)

    I grabbed two points for the 'broken' parts... The simulation is off at times, at night I find my police cars driving a straight line down my main avenue pursuing the same criminal. I keep getting warnings of a crime problem, but twenty cars... Forty officers chasing one suspect is ridiculous.

    The second point from the game itself came from not having the option for cities to run concurrently. As it stands right now, you or a friend needs to be working inside a city in order for it to produce raw materials or goods to ship, so you've got to be shifting cities constantly if you're playing a private session. It's more annoying than anything, and I feel it could be fixed easily with a Simulate City tickbox.
  • Stephen Johnston
    Founder
    The core game *is* quite good. It has warts too, but they are sort of part of the fun of the simulation and they will fix the worst offenders. The server issues are just... uggh

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