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The nth installment (sorry, I lost count) of the great SimCity games since SimCity 2000 released in the early 1990's. Before I start however, if you didn't like the previous games then please stop reading now, (I'm getting a hang of this word...LOL) very little has changed to make you want to pick up SimCity. For those who loved the series to date, and eagerly await Maxis's table scraps to be thrown to us like the salivating dogs that we are, then by all means, read on.
SimCity Societies is as we all expected it would be, very similar to the previous games. While this would ultimately kill films and most games, it actually strengthens SimCity Societies' chances, as the game design is already so near-perfect that the game was bound to be good if it just followed from where the past one left off. But does it add anything new on top of this already brilliant formula?
That's the million dollar question.
And my answer is that : Overall it is better than it's predecessors as it is more modern, and it makes a truly radical changes to the series. While the previous installment of the SimCity is focused on city building simulations, this latest installment is more on "social engineering simulator". For example, public works and a tax system do not play a part in the basic game. Instead, players get daily income from workplaces in the city. There are also six "social energies", called societal values, which allow players to learn about the characteristics of the citizens.
SimCity Societies is a good game, and fans of the series will enjoy this title just as much as before. Although some changes to games style will not suit some, i.e. those who have little patience or those who don't have much time to play games, for those who do play will find the latest in series challenging, longer and enjoyable.
There's also an expansion released called SimCity Societies Destination which focus on tourism and transportation.
I've always been a fan of the Sim City games, ever since I understood how to put down water pipes and that you don't just build houses, you build zones and the population build the houses (amazing huh!), so imagine my suprise when I found out that EA had taken out the need for zones and the taxing system, the water pipes and the power cable and left us with a stripped down and "polished" version of everyones favourite city simulator.
I say "polished" in speech marks because I don't mean the polished in the usual sense of works and runs better or smoother, I mean that its got less parts and they look prettier. At a heavy cost however!
The machine I was running this on has a Q6600 (overclocked to 3ghz per core), 4gb of 800mhz ddr2 ocZ ram and an HD 3870 now after I did the usual of choosing highest graphics in the options I noticed that still many things were on medium, I laughed as I normally would at the silly simulation game thinking that a computer like mine wouldn't eat the game for breakfast and still have enough to run crysis in the background (on high) but, just like the game Battlefield 2142, Electronic Arts have managed to create a game that is designed for an apparent future megacomputer and turning down the graphics only gives you unbearable blocky shadows which look disgusting and for a graphics w**re like me are just not gonna allow me to play the game. After a few fiddles with the options I managed to figure out what helped my pc (who was now weeping in the corner) run it at a nice mix of frames per second and graphical quality.
The game itself is brilliant, I love it, I'm not sure why I love it because they've cut out a lot of what made simcity challenging but this makes you feel a lot more personal, perhaps one could liken it to SimCity and The Sims' lovechild.
I should just note that apparently the expansion pack clears up a lot of the performance issues but I have read quite a bit about problems with it running on Vista Ultimate 64-bit and I didn't wanna throw more money down the drain in case it still didn't clean up the performance enough for it to be enjoyable in bigger cities.
There are LOADS of buildings to unlock and 4 or 5 different types of social environments to inflict on the populus. There are a few bits (like a taxing system) I'd wish to see but all in all its a great idea to make big mean evil grey city sims a little more personal and friendly. Just next time, hire better programmers to make sure it actaully works.
For people who love the Sims and haven't played Sim city much this is the perfect introduction to that sort of game. The game is based around the premise that you can make whatever society you want and the people living in the city will either be happy or not about it. You can, if you want, make it whatever you want and depending on the path you decide to take you end up unlocking different venues and buildings.
Getting money isn't very hard but you have to take care and make sure the people in your city have got jobs because these jobs pay you every Sunday. You can then build your city some more from this money.
Building the city isn't difficult, it's actually quite fun. If you're a sims person then you can check on each individual one of the virtual people in your society.
Simcity societies has two downfalls: it can become a bit too easy and repetitive and even when you're trying to make your town fully miserable they manage to be happy somehow, despite your best efforts as society god. The biggest problem isn't that, it's how much it crashes: once your city has expanded enough expect for it to crash over and over and over again, thus putting me off indifinitely from it. Patches don't work and the best thing you can hope for is an expansion pack. But then again, if you buy it, how can you make sure it doesn't crash?
As odd as the idea may sound it allows cities to be built up much more quickly and with a far greater level of control over the citizens that inhabit them. Whereas before it was a real effort just to get a small town working now you can raise giant dystopian towers wherever you want and see the population reduced to an Orwellian nightmare û or opt for a more pastoral layout and watch everyone skipping around the haystacks. The import thing is it makes SimCity, and social engineering, fun again. Back when designer Will Wright started making games it was SimCity which was his first big success, helping to define the concept of god games and social simulators. Over the years though the series got ever more complicated and less appealing, so that when The Sims was released in 2000 it put the old city simulators completely in its shadow. Now though the whole SimCity concept has been rethought to the point where this isnÆt really a sequel to SimCity 4 at all but a whole new game somewhere between the original and The Sims.