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.