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January 13, 2003

SimCity 4 First Looks

So far, I've only gone through the tutorials of SimCity 4 and quickly leveled a demo city with all the different disasters. In almost every respect, the detail within the game is stunning.

Probably The first thing you'll notice is the high quality and tastefully background music. It is very relaxing and calming and works well as background music for the type of game SimCity is. In some ways it has reminded me of the type of mood sound effects and music you hear in places like Epcot's Living Seas, New England Aquarium, or the National Aquarium. This is one game where I don't think I'll mind listening to it over and over but if it doesn't fit your tastes you are able to select your own music files for it to play!

SimCity 4's MaxisLand Region Tutorials SimCity 4's Mayor or City Play layout and controls are very similar to SimCity 3000's. If you never played 3000, then the Mayor Tutorial will quickly guide you through the basics so you can begin managing a city right away. Since the Mayor Tutorial only shows the basics I believe they should have provided a more advanced tutorial, in addition for new comers to the series. It would have also been useful as an extended refresher for us players that haven't played 3000 for some time.

While there are many similarities in SimCity 4's City Play Mode to 3000's , the God Mode or 'Terraforming Mode' has been vastly improved and refined in SimCity 4. Customizing a terrain or creating one from scratch has become more of an art form and in itself becomes very interesting and addictive. It almost works like a brush on a canvas, it is a very intuitive and well thought out design. One could easily spend a few days creating and just tweaking the map, it works so well!

One disappointment was I expected the disasters animations to be a little more realistic. For example, the tornado really doesn't look like a tornado, the robot looks like a child's transformer toy, and an earthquake looks the same as it did in 3000. You do have much better control and interaction with your police and fire departments on the scene of a disaster which give it a bit more realistic feel. I don't notice a way to sound the silly warning alarm as you had to in 3000. If it is gone in SimCity 4 this alone will be a great improvement!

One other disappointment was the lack of a real manual. SimCity3000 came with a players guide that was several hundred pages long and really gave a lot of great advice and tips on how to properly construct a perfect city. The manual in SimCity 4 is only 44 pages long and is not much larger than a US Passport. The font size is also pretty large so you can imagine how little information it contains. Clearly this was a cost cutting measure or perhaps even a ploy to tempt you into buying the SimCity 4 Strategy Guide. Very distasteful for a complex $49.99 game.

Unfortunately I won't have much time to explore the game more today because I must make up for the time I lost picking up the game in Burlington and playing it the rest of the afternoon. Work calls now.

Posted in Product Reviews & Purchases by usrbingeek at 2003-01-13 20:33 ET (GMT-5) | 0 Comments | Permalink


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