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on March 5, 2013
Guess what? If you'd love to experience the nonstop thrills and excitement of SimCity, then please remove $60 from your bank and promptly pay someone to kick you repeatedly in the friggin' mouth.

I find it incredibly mind boggling that I spent $60 on something that I can't even log into to play. My first city that I spent some time on was lost forever due to server issues at EA. Oh, and forget trying to get a quick game in when your server (where your save resides) is either full or busy. I only wanted to play a quick game, completely solo, and am forced to wait and wait and wait and wait. And don't believe the 20-30 min timer. Sometimes even that is incorrect.

Shame on you EA. For the last ten years I have watched you slowly turn this industry into a wasteland. And now in your latest attempt in trying to stick to your corporate policy of crushing anything that closely resembles the human spirit, you have turned SimCity into a $60 thirty minute countdown and server status app. Awesome.

I spent this money because I still wanted to support Maxis. After all, I grew up with a lot of Maxis games that I absolutely loved. Still do. But this? This is probably one of the dumbest things EA and Maxis could have ever done. If it's possible for me to even get a refund, I want it. We're only really paying for a product key that lets us use completely unusable servers. Invalidate the key and refund money. So, EA. Do you plan on letting any of us honest people actually play this game?

Avoid this game. Until EA either removes the DRM completely or allows offline play and saves, this game is nothing more than an example on how a company can both rip off AND alienate its fanbase.

UPDATE: For those here who purchased the game through Amazon, I contacted them and they refunded the cost of the game and removed it from my library for me. This is why I will always be loyal to companies like Amazon, which CARES about its customers, and no longer to companies like EA, who would rather make people jump through hoops than actually go out of their way for a customer. I suggest anyone else here contact Amazon and get your money back as well, so that EA can begin to take notice when they're suddenly having to pay a lot of their ill gotten money back to their customers.

Vote with your wallets, people. We have the power to change companies or bring them down if they refuse to change. We have that power.
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on March 5, 2013
How would you feel if you waited for the new Corvette to come out, preordered one, and when you try to drive it home with its massive V8 engine the dashboard tells you, "Gas Pump not connected, aborting."?

Well, this is the world of EA games. For years now they have been plugging DRM into games regardless if it's singleplayer or multiplayer. At some unspecified date, from a year to a few years down the line, they'll pull the plug on the life-support of the game (aka server) and tah-dah! Your $60 game is now a $60 Frisbee.

There is no reason at all that anyone who shells out top-dollar for an over-hyped game should have to sit in a queue for hours at a time to even reach the main menu. The queue makes NO mention of your spot in line, and only says, "ATTEMPTING to reconnect in: (20 minute countdown)". That is, not checking persistently. That is, indefinite wait time. Your saves are SERVER based, so if your connection is lost, the server hiccups, or you move to a less-populated server? Hours of gameplay wasted.

Tutorials are bugged. Region buttons are greyed out and unable to continue. The crashes force you to sit in the queue once again.

Bottom line: Go up to a random stranger, preferably a musclehead, hand him your $60 and ask him to punch you in the face. You'll get more out of your money, and it'll be less painful to watch.

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on March 7, 2013
This is the best error message simulator I've ever played. It lures you in with a promising looking game, but gives you an error message every time you try to launch it. Changing servers will not save you.

I've actually gotten pretty good at this game. I've gotten as far as the final boss. Right when I try to claim my plot to build my city, I'm told to try again at another time. Does anybody know how to beat this boss? What time am I supposed to come back?

This game is much better than its predecessor, Error 37.
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on March 9, 2013
It's a sad day when your brand new shiny City-Sim game on today's modern computers can't even hold a candle to its 10 year old predecessor. (Sim City 4) I have been waiting in anxious anticipation for SimCity since the moment I learned of its existence. All of those tiny little frusrating aspects of SC4 would finally get updated, and we would finally have the SimCity we've been dreaming of. Surely, with 10 years to research and find what their loyal fans truly loved about the City building series, there was no way EA could fail at making a truly wonderful, classic game that would hold up as a true joy to play for years to come.

But instead, EA scrapped it all. They tore everything we loved about the game down, and gave an impostor the "SimCity" franchise title instead. A truly awful game of the highest order. In summary, EA, here is everything you did wrong:

1. The biggest factor in enjoying my game, the one true aspect that let me endlessly experiment, was removed. I can no longer reload a city after flinging disasters at it. I can no longer turn my mega-city into a smog filled crime town just for fun to see what happens. I can't even save my game locally. What the hell is this? Every single action is 100% permanent FOREVER... ? Why even play?

2. Goodbye casual enjoyment. Whose wonderful idea was it to come up with the always-on DRM?? Because they, and everyone who even remotely acted like the always-on connection was a good idea, should be immediately fired and banned from the video game industry for life. No one wants this. Not a single player wanted this, except you EA. It's like EA could never envision that a scenario would arise where you would want to play the game and not have internet access. Has no one from EA ever traveled before? Do they drive around with their own personal satellite beaming internet to their laptop 24/7 365? Because now there are literally no scenarios where I can play SimCity unless I sit down at my desktop computer for hours on end. No more playing on a long road trip in the backseat. No more popping out the laptop for a few hours of fun gaming on the flight home. Do you have an even partially unreliable connection? Forget about it. Use broadband internet access on the go? Hahaha good luck. That's ok though, I'm sure all of EA's actual, paying customers will ask for refunds and then download a pirated copy with the DRM connection 'fixed' so they can enjoy their game in a few weeks anyway, so it shouldn't be a problem for long.

3. Speaking of the always-on internet connection, what happens in 3 years, hmm? or 5 years, or 10 years? What about when I go to pop out my dusty old copy of SimCity to show my kids in 15 years a classic game I used to enjoy? Oh wait, nevermind, that's not possible because I'm sure your servers will be offline by then. Will you offer us an offline patch when the servers go offline for good? Who knows... and who cares!! Because I'm sure you'll launch a new SimCity game then too, with the same s***ty DRM, and shut down these servers so we're forced to upgrade! I'm so excited!

4. What is this crap about collaborative regions? Did anyone who designed this game even PLAY SimCity?? One if the franchise's greatest joys is building your own custom region up, brick by brick into the megalopolis, or crime slum, or paradise, or shopping mecca of your dreams. Why would I ever want to be beholden to someone else's vision of what the region should be? I literally cannot believe that there are no options to play the game truly, 100% solo. It's unbelievable. You know what, I'll go make some popcorn and sit back to watch "my region" grow. It's not like I can make it into what I want anyway.

5. No region/city terraforming? Are you kidding me? It's like EA wanted people to be angry.

6. Who broke out the shrink ray? Why are the cities so tiny? ...and the regions too for that matter? Your loyal fans have been screaming for massive regions and bigger cities since the earliest possible SimCity days. We finally have enough computing power to handle a truly massive region/city and what did you do? Shrank it. Thanks for nothing.

7. You killed all forms of game mods, EA. Why would you do this? Why would you cripple fan support of your own game? It has been over 10 years, and the SC4 modding community is still going strong. Hell, it'll probably be an even stronger mod community once people go back to SC4 after this launch. So why would you cripple the ability to mod SimCity? Oh, that's right, because you're greedy, money-grubbing jerks, and you introduced reason #8!

8. The micro-transaction marketplace. You've got to be kidding me. The very last thing I want to do with any game is get nickle-and-dimed. But I guess in EA's mind it's ok to cut out pieces of the game and then resell them to you. What a joy!

9. Solo play is crippled! "You curmudgeoney old hermit, why would you not want to play socially with others?" BECAUSE I DON'T WANT TO. THAT'S ALL THE REASON I NEED. If you purchase this and intend to play solo, enjoy realizing that you can't accomplish many major goals unless you play multiplayer with others. For example, want that mega-airport in your own custom region? Too bad!! Hopefully you know multiple friends with the exact same interests as you so that you can unlock some meaningless obstruction to the things you want to build! If you are going to include multi-player in a solo-play game format, make it OPTIONAL!

It pains me deeply as a long-time fan of the Sim City franchise to say that I truly hope that this game goes down in history as one of the biggest failures ever. Since it has already launched and we can't do anything to change the situation, at least SimCIty still has the chance to be remembered as a martyr. Take note EA, this massive failure is a reminder that what your customers truly want is what they ask for - not what the developer wants.

UPDATE #2: I just learned of another joy!

10. NO SUBWAYS. Why, oh WHY would you have a SimCity game, or ANY City Simulator for that matter, WHERE YOU CAN'T BUILD SUBWAY SYSTEMS! Seriously, this was included in SimCity 2000, over 15 years ago.... and now in 2013, subways disappear? This is the type of ludicrous logic I just cannot grasp.

UPDATE #3: I wanted to add in a few more points I missed in my original review, that I realize now would not be apparent unless you played the game yourself.

11. Pre-set neighbor connections. Unlike in previous iterations of SimCity, you do not directly control where roads enter your city, they simply enter, and wherever they are, they are. You will have to build around this.

12. Seriously, have I mentioned how small the cities are? Maxis/EA repeatedly stated in pre-release that they are comparable to the size of the 'medium' tiles from SC4, but they're not. They're really not even close, and in game play, they feel even more constricting than the 'small' city tiles in SC4. Basically they should have called this game an update and re-boot of the 1995 Maxis game, SimTown. That's how it plays - all the game focuses on is the sim people, not your city.

13. For a game that puts so much emphasis on the Sim residents of your city, it doesn't seem to care too much about them, or their behavior. Instead of even remotely utilizing pathfinding skills, Sims and other entities in the game (garbage trucks, school buses, etc.) follow straight-line logic and keep going until they find a place to stop. Sims will frequently jam up a street full of traffic when there is a perfectly usable road right next to it going to the same place. Sims getting out of school proceed down the road in a row of school buses, dumping as many sims into each house as the house can hold until they run out of sims. Sims don't have 'houses' (meaning they don't return to the place they came from when coming home from work) they just stop at the first residence that has space for them or keep going until there's one with room. This leads to ridiculous and almost laughably stupid behavior - lines of school buses parading through your city... a single road in your city being jam packed with traffic, with every other road empty... conga lines of sims coming home from a place of work. This game is just a broken, silly update to SimTown. This is not Sim City.

Honestly? Go play SimCity 4000 (with the Rush Hour expansion) and save your money.
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on March 5, 2013
I have been waiting all day to play this game. After waiting in line for a server, I get the "Can not claim a city" error. It's the biggest waste of my time and money trying to play this game.

EA does not care about their customers. It is understandable that issues arise when a game first goes live. However, EA needs more than just 4 servers for north america. They could have easily planned for this by analyzing pre-orders. A lot of other people are upset too. EA/SimCity staff ignore all the negative posts on their facebook and twitter page and they act like everything is just fine.

If the game did not require an internet connection, everyone would be just fine. EA - If you can not support the server load, then do not implement it!

Take my advice and wait before you buy this game. Until EA gets these issues fixed, your buying nothing more than a pretty game screen with a timer & error message to stare at.
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on March 6, 2013
I've been playing SimCity games since their inception in the late 1980s, and was overwhelmed with excitement about this release. Thus, it was terribly disappointing to learn that gameplay requires a constant internet connection, and a link to EA's servers. For those players who have no interest in online collaborative gameplay, this is an absurd requirement, especially considering the pathetic performance of these servers now that the game has gone live.

If EA doesn't resolve this soon, I will be requesting a refund and going back to playing SimCity 4 (as it seems now, for the rest of my life). From the other reviews and the very negative Amazon Star rating, I don't think that I am alone in this sentiment.

Overall, this is a major disappointment, and I recommend that interested buyers hold off to see how (or even if) these issues are resolved.
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on March 8, 2013
In an internal memo today, Maxis' general manager Lucy Bradshaw stated, "I'd like to say that it's not fair -- that the game score shouldn't be punished for a server problem. But it is fair." So with that, I present an attempt to provide a fair review of this game in its current state. A lot of the reviews here are mostly rages against EA and their insistence upon forcing "draconian" DRM policies upon their customers. DRM is the least of the problems with this game.

It's definitely not all bad. The game itself is beautiful, and serene. The aesthetics are a huge step away from previous releases and in the right direction. Some may complain that it is too "cartoon-ish" but I was a big fan of the solid colors of the game. I found myself just staring and appreciating random buildings. The game looks very clean and polished. I want to live in this city. Lens effects and filters help you create a perfect look for your city. A city with a lot of heavy industry looks great with the vintage filter, and the black and red filter would accentuate a crime-ridden casino town.

As with most SC releases, the music is gorgeous and creates an atmosphere that sucks you in. It is not at all annoying, harsh, or blaring. When you go to different data views, building menus, or just pause the game, the music transitions seamlessly to a "lite" version. When I did notice the music, I loved it.

Building upgrades and improvements are a big part of the gameplay, and necessary for your city to succeed. Almost every ploppable building has an upgrade, from adding signs and flagpoles, to entire wings of a petroleum or mining headquarters. You find yourself having to really think about what you want your city to specialize in, and you have to plan accordingly. If you want to have a highly educated city, you better remember to allow yourself plenty of room for university dormitories and schools.

Which brings us to strategy. With the small tile size, you have to meticulously plan. Wind direction, resources, and location within the region all come into play. A tile heavy with coal could possibly be a great industrial and power district, but you have to account for where it stands in relation to its neighbors within the region. If it's upwind, all that air pollution will spill over into the next town. If there's a huge water table, you may want to consider not polluting it, and instead using it to provide water to neighboring cities. Resources are finite, and solely devoting a city to the exploitation of any resource will go bad for you when it's all dried up. The game is very challenging, and can present unforeseen circumstances to your every move.

Traffic is a huge problem that I ran into. Fully upgraded avenues with plenty of mass transit would still clog up, and cause havoc all over the city. Power plants will shut down because the trucks delivering resources would be unable to push through the traffic. The effect on emergency services is the worst. Sims are hardheaded and do not move out of the way for firetrucks, so your city will burn to the ground while the firefighters are stuck in traffic. This is a problem with the simulation, and needs to be remedied. Again, with the small tile size, it's very hard to get around that once your city gets to a certain size. Bottlenecks at the entrance to your city is an all too common occurrence. And you only have one entrance.

Now for the really bad. The game's simulation relies heavily upon the client-server relationship. When those servers are flaking out, the game flakes out. This isn't simply a multiplayer issue, but a problem at the core level of the game. Resources, money, workers, and utilities don't get transferred between cities, utility upgrades have a slow effect within the city, and upgrades aren't shared in the region. Those are the least troublesome issues. Actually being able to play is the larger issue. When I could get onto a server, my regions would disappear and reappear at random and loading another city would seize up the game.

The small tile size is another problem, but I won't spend too much time on it. Maxis has stated that future patches (hopefully not DLC) will fix that. As it stands right now, the tile size forces you to play as a region. That's all well and good in practice, and something I actually appreciate and love. However if the servers are flaking out, you can not play as a region. All of the interaction between regions is handled by the servers, so it becomes an exercise in futility and you're stuck in your single, helpless, miserable, and rapidly failing little city.

This is, of course, assuming you can get into the game at all. A problem that I'm sure will soon be remedied, so I won't drill them on that. I have faith they will fix the current server issues. With that said, this isn't a launch day (week) problem. It is a problem with the core functionality of the game. Your regions are not synced between servers. All your hard work would come to a dead stop if the server upon which it is built is unavailable. Logging on to a new server will have you start from scratch. How in the world, in a game built primarily around progression and creation, are we to create and progress under those circumstances? All my hard work would be at the mercy of a single server. As beautiful and challenging as the game is, this is a deal breaker. Bear in mind, this is all from a single-player perspective. I have no idea of the quagmire that is multiplayer.

I have devoted a lot of time and faith to this franchise. I've purchased every release of SC since it's inception, and I've spent countless hours enjoying it immensely. I would consider myself a part of its faithful fanbase; one which continues to build, mod, and enjoy SC4 10 years after its release. I feel as though Maxis has turned their backs on us. I know they put a lot of love and hard work into this release, and the aesthetics and depth of simulation are to show for that. However, aesthetics and depth of simulation are for naught if we can't play the game as its forebears intended. The soul of this franchise is creation. In this release, creation is dependent upon the health of a single server. This isn't conducive to the needs of SC's loyal and patient fanbase. We won't be willing or able to play this game 10 years down the road, and there won't be a huge modding community built around it. It saddens me to walk away from it. I requested and was granted a full refund. If they allow us to play the single player game offline, where we can use mods, and for Pete's sake, simply save our hard work on our own hardware, then maybe they can have my money back.

UPDATE 2014-05-14: I've since repurchased the game (on sale) after Maxis patched it to allow offline single player mode. This was back in March. Other than that, I don't have much to add because I really haven't played it that much. Which I guess sort of says something within itself. It is far less frustrating when you're not depending on servers. Traffic problems seem to be better. That said, I still see myself getting bored, because of the low tile size. I find I'm constantly switching back and forth between cities to deal with resource issues. That gets dull rather quickly. I'm hoping for bigger tiles in a future patch, or that EA will open the thing up for modding. +1 star for offline.
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on March 5, 2013
it doesnt even work, Do not buy this junk. This is a single player game that forces you to be online but the server keeps crashing the game, this is so stupid how dare you charge $60 for this crap.
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on March 5, 2013
I am disappointed with this game and this company and feel like they stole the cost of the game. None of the old nostalgic feelings come to me with all the shiny new design features - this is a totally different game, and no fun at all (especially since it's completely and literally UNPLAYABLE because it's impossible to connect to the servers). Buy this game if you enjoy feeling frustrated and taken advantage of.
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on March 21, 2013
I watched and listened as the SimCity debacle raged on through its first weeks. Eventually it calmed down a bit and I enjoyed watching some of my favorite gaming youtubers playing. Nothing seemed as off about the game as was reported in the past. So I broke down and bought it.

Long story short, a week later I've lost both of the beautiful cities I've made (more hours than I care to admit) to the Maxis-branded sock-eating washing machine vortex.

Think you can just "deal" with the bugs, and have fun with the game for what it is? I did too, until I relogged and found that not only my cities no longer exist, but the entire region they were a part of has vanished as well. I can deal with buggy behavior. But this is like having US dollars in your pocket, depositing them in the bank, and visiting the bank the next day to find that they have no records of your deposit. And since SimCity provides, nor will EVER provide (actual press release statement) any way to save your game locally, then it's also like having your pocketed US dollars simply slap you in the face and say "NOPE" when you try to put them under your mattress instead.

A SimCity game is worthless if there's no way to save progress. I may as well go build a city out of cotton candy while it's raining. There's a (currently) 14 page thread on the EA forums started by a community manager asking for details on incidents of lost progress. It's been open for 10 days and has over 130 reports (which represents a small fraction of actual cases). There has yet to be any information given to us on the status of their investigation. Just google "info request simcity lost progress".

If you enjoy tossing your hard work out the window after each play session, then SimCity is for you. But don't think you'll be the one to escape the bugs. Statistics tells me otherwise and I should have taken the 1-star rating seriously. Don't make the same mistake. Don't forget you will not under any circumstances receive a refund from EA or Amazon once you activate your game key.

P.S. Kudos to the guy to managed to make his bad review the "most helpful 5 star review". It really says something when a game's best review is actually 1 star at heart.
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