In case you were worried that the new SimCity was going to be bad, I can assure you that it is not. Well, since the closed beta only gives you 1 hour of playtime, I guess I can only really assure you that 2013 SimCity is awesome for at least 1 hour. I was a bit skeptical on how I would respond to the game, to be honest. It’s easy to over-romanticize games that you loved in your childhood; and the last SimCity game that I truly played was SimCity 2000, which was released in 1994. Needless to say, the 2013 version of SimCity was quite overwhelming – in the best way possible.
In short, it is exactly how you would expect SimCity in 2013 to play like. I felt that the the balance between the micro and macro levels of city management are really well handled. I can barely remember what features are genuinely new vs. revamped compared to the older versions of the game; but all of our favourites are still here: crime rates, density, zoning, taxes, waste and water management, public transportation, and of course: happiness. As always, the happiness of your citizens plays a big part in the overall scheme of the game, but your ability to combine and balance all of the different aspects of what makes a city great is truly what makes this game so immersive – and unfortunately, addictive.
Simlish to English translation is handled well…
The game has a standard toolbar at the bottom of the screen, where all features can be accessed. For someone that is truly new to the SimCity title, it can be a bit overwhelming at first, but the tutorial truly does help to familiarize yourself with the different aspects and building tools of the game, so pay attention during it. Mini “side missions” have also been introduced, where city advisors will give you certain short-term goals to meet (ie: have 100 citizens visit a park within the next 3 days). I had some minor usability issues with the toolbar and how to perform certain actions, but unlike the advice I had given earlier, I was not paying attention during the tutorial. I was just too damned excited to start playing.
This version of SimCity will also give you the opportunity to visit nearby cities, and as part of online play feature, you will be able to visit and collaborate with your friends’ cities. Specialization is also available (mentioned in the tutorial, but not available during the beta) – so if you want to turn your city into a glamorous gambling haven, you will have the ability to do so, although I imagine that crime would then become an issue for your city. I visited a nearby in-game casino city, but about 5 seconds into my visit, fireballs started to rain from the sky, and I was told to leave immediately. I’m not exactly sure what constitutes as “fireballs” under natural disasters, but I am very excited to see what other natural disasters are available in the full version of the game.
A portion of my beautiful city “New Caprica”.
While 1 hour is nowhere near the time it would take to truly get a feel for the game, my first impression is officially: really impressed.