Planning Woes; Urban Development 101 Is In Session
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