SimCity is a classic. Played for hours on an Amiga 1200, it was the game that got me hooked on building games. There has been a lot online recently about the newest incarnation of SimCity and I’ve been lucky enough to be selected for the beta trial. So the question was, does SimCity 2013 beta live up to the hype?
To take the game for a spin I had to download and install Origin, not something I was especially keen to do as I tend to make use of Steam only. Entered the beta key and the game quickly downloaded. On starting the game there was a fairly length update process to take place, after which I was finally in.
There was a brief tutorial using a pre-built city and this tells you everything you need to know very quickly. Then I was off, for just 60 minutes of gameplay, building my own city.
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Construction of roads/power etc
Gone are the days of needing to lay power lines and pipe work. All utilities are taken care of via roads. This does limit buildings to always being attached to roads, but in practice this isn’t an issue. You can pick from a range of road types, single lane, duel carriage etc, and your city must be connected by road to the outside world. The beta didn’t include an option to build any other transport type such as rail or air.
Water and electricity still require a source. When adding a water tower and wind generator the game shows this new resource flowing out from the source around the city, looks brilliant and is done in such a simple way you don’t need to be told what’s going on, you just get it.
The cornerstone of SimCity, zoning is back. Very simple to use, just pick the zone type and place it next to a road. Construction workers automatically come along and build structures ready for use. It’s brilliant to see this hasn’t changed much since the Amiga 1200, it just looks a whole lot better!
When looking to add zoning you have an indication of what type of zone is in demand, ensuring you don’t over zone and waste space. There is only one type of each zone, in order to get a higher antivirals level building in the zone you need to build improvements around it. For example building parks and schools improved the residential zones and attracted wealthier Sims.
The latest version of SimCity looks amazing. Anyone who has tried The Sims will recognize the
graphics style. The game menus are nice rounded buttons and the interface never feels cluttered. The buildings are very detailed and look brilliant and the day/night cycle gives it a real world feel.
You can zoom in and see all the Sims wandering around, all the cars going about their business, and there are some great graphical views to show the flow of water, power and waste (which are all accompanied by nice sound effects).
The actual Sims seemed less well defined than I expected, but maybe I needed to take a look at my graphic options, with only 60 minutes to play I didn’t fancy messing around in the menus.
Before I knew it 30 minutes had passed and I’d unlocked new buildings. Despite my city getting larger and larger there wasn’t any slow down in game play. It is really smooth to play despite the impressive graphics.
I only witnessed a single disaster, and that was a meteor shower during the tutorial. It looked impressive and certainly adds a nice option of getting rid of a city causing you lots of frustration.
The SimCity beta did seem to be attempting to connect to servers and there were a number of times this connection failed. I’ve had bad experiences with this set up before, with Settlers, where the game actually wouldn’t play without a server connection. In this instance it was a good sign that my game continued despite the lack of sever connection.
With a good city building game 60 minutes doesn’t really even get you started, and that was certainly true of my time with the SimCity beta. My first city was a bit rubbish and if I could have the hour over there is lots I would do differently and different areas I would focus on. The game looks set to be highly addictive and a sure fire hit when it is eventually released. Currently the game can be pre-ordered in different additions for upwards of £44.99, with the deluxe edition costing £64.99. Sounds a tad on the expensive side until you factor in this game offers unlimited replay value.