I have had an absolute blast playing SimCity 5. It’s the first game since the Walking Dead that I’ve thought about during the day, wondering what my next course of action will be or what natural disaster will happen next (meteors really seem to love my town!). Luckily I’ve had absolutely zero server issues and have been able to enjoy the game without a hiccup.
As a staunch fan of single-player mode, hearing that I would be trading and interacting with other towns initially gave me pause. If you’re like me and don’t feel like dealing with anyone for a region or two, this is easily remedied by playing in a private region. Of course, it’s a little more difficult to do so. It becomes a careful balancing act, and you need to successfully manage multiple cities at once in order to keep them bustling and profitable. Ignore one, and the others will see their progress hampered or even stagnate.
I love that electricity and water have been simplified. I always felt it was a little too micromanaged for my tastes, and having those two resources anchored to the roads removes unnecessary complexity. Your focus is now on running a successful city and keeping your citizens happy, rather than placing the power lines and water pipes just so for maximum efficiency.
I’ve heard some grumbles about the new focus on Sims in your city, but I enjoy it. It gives the town more personality and if I’m waiting for my cash to increase to a certain point I like following them around. It also gives me a better feel as to how commuting in the city is faring. I had an inkling my town’s roadways were going to be congested long before the game warned me to place some bus stops. Following a few Sims around let me reach that conclusion and take action before the roads become too congested.
I do have a few minor gripes with the game. Perhaps I wasn’t paying attention during this part, but I had to ask around about how to mine ore and drill oil. It turns out those are tied to choosing a Specialization. I had thought that choosing one meant that I was stuck with only that and would lose it if I chose another. While I do like that SimCity teaches you the basics and lets you figure the rest out as you play–you can choose to learn all there is or you can choose to keep a passing knowledge of how to play and still be successful–specialization could and should have been explained a little better.
The game itself runs fine and I’ve had no problems there, but the tutorials seem to be a different story. The initial tutorial glitched on startup, with no HUD appearing and just a view of the city. Pretty, but not what I was expecting. It took restarting and two more tries for the tutorial to finally work. The in-game tutorials in my own cities also have given me a few problems. Whether it’s clicks not registering or the in-game tutorial HUD hanging, it not only takes me out of the game (literally and figuratively) but it also discourages learning more.
The Road Upgrade icon could be designed better as well. It’s an arrow with a flourish at its end and looks a bit like a Refresh or fancy Undo arrow. I didn’t click it for three nights, thinking it would undo my previous road placement. I was becoming frustrated with not knowing how to upgrade my roads–I had tried dragging High Density roads over Low Density ones to no avail–when I finally happened to hover over the Road Upgrade icon and I saw what it actually did, I felt both relieved and frustrated. It should be designed in a way that I can tell what it is at a glance, not a mouse hover.
Those frustrations are minimal when looking at the big picture and don’t have a large impact (if any) on the enjoyment I’m getting while playing this game. SimCity helped me love games again–a slightly odd icon and a glitch here or there isn’t going to mar my entire experience.
Haven’t played a SimCity yet? You should check this out. Whatever your opinions on the constant internet connectivity are, the game is solidly made and an absolute joy to play. I’m loving every minute of it.
After a whirlwind of a week, I’m back from San Francisco! This Game Developers Conference was just as breathtaking and exciting as the last, but in many different ways.
I was a conference assistant again, but found my time in the CA Lounge to be very limited compared to last year. While a bit of a bummer, the high quality of the talks I attended and the contacts I was able to make made up for it.