If you feel cheated, slighted, or incredibly bored with your recent purchase of a highly-lauded simulation game, here are a handful of other excellent games you could be playing instead.
CIVILIZATION IV (FRAXIS)
Where SimCity and Tropico put you in charge of small, independent locations, the Civilization gives you an army, a settlement, and the entire world. Where Tropico is mission-driven, Civilization is domination-driven: be the best. At something. Anything. Conquer the world? Sure. Be the first nation into space? Check. Do it with ease? Heck no.
Civ IV is a hard game. Even on the lowest difficulty, on the smallest planet, novice Civilization players can easily bough under the weight of the global community. There are a thousand ways to fail. Each play through requires a leader, and if you pick a leader with traits that don’t match your play style, you’re doomed. Waste your turn-based moves on meaningless crap, and you end up stagnating. Push your army too quickly into an enemy’s territory? Say goodbye to your entire country.
This is a hot-button issue. I understand that by throwing my hat into the Civ IV rink, I’m announcing my role in a very heated war between the most dedicated Civilization players. It’s a fierce, bloody debate, but I’m not ashamed to admit that Civ IV will always be my shining, crowning jewel of the Civilization series.
ZOO TYCOON 2 (BLUE FANG GAMES)
There are no pretenses with Zoo Tycoon 2. You’re tasked with doing exactly what you think: nurture a struggling zoo back to life and create a stunning attraction for animal lovers across the globe. Yep, nothing surprising here. …Except for the dinosaurs. And other extinct animals. Or the secret underground lair of dino-catchers.
Either way, there’s something soothing about painting the lion’s enclosure with Sahara dust and canopy trees. It’s hard not to take a note of pride in your zoo when it’s growing; there’s something incredibly rewarding about gaining the ranks reserved for only the most elite zoos in the world.
Blue Fang somehow, inexplicably, got it right with Zoo Tycoon. And, instead of releasing hundreds of sequels or follow-ups, they decided to continue the brand with in the most logical way possible: expansion packs. Playing with the lot of them is arguably the finest way to play Zoo Tycoon 2, and playing the base game is sort of like finding yourself in a YMCA without a swimming pool. It makes sense logically, but something about it just feels wrong.
OTHER SIMCITY GAMES (MAXIS, EA)
In case you weren’t aware, the 2013 release of SimCity is the next installment in a long line of games. The second most-recent release, SimCity 4, provides much of the same technical gameplay as the most recent release, and it requires significantly less power. Okay, sure, you don’t get sweeping panoramics of your city, and you don’t get to help your friends develop their own empires, but who needs friends when you have giant car wrecks and massive earthquakes to occupy your time?
There are a whole list of greats in the SimCity line, with subtle nuances that set each apart from its predecessor. SimCity 2000 (sequel to the original surprisingly well-sold game) added a huge number of facilities to your city-building arsenal: health care, power grids, and zoning laws. SimCity 3000 addresses the issues of waste management, pollution and farming. SimCity turned your city into a region, adding a macro-management aspect to your Sims’ lives.
When it comes down to a matter of feature, the 2013 SimCity is the same game wrapped in a prettier box. Yes, it has a new engine and yes, it uses finite resources. But it’s the only SimCity that comes bundled with server issues.