Like SimCity 4, the game world is a geographic region that's broken up into plots of land that can be developed individually, allowing players to create a residential city next to an industrial one. In the new SimCity players can develop the region with friends through online multiplayer. Those who care to remain megalomaniacs can do so and lock other players out.
Collaboration includes simple things, like paying a neighbor for electricity, to working together on an international airport. Purchasing power is simple, as I watched playful, toy-like power lines connecting to a neighboring city to start a business deal. Major projects like an international airport will require collaboration and specific buildings among the interested parties to complete. Commuting sims can also live in one city and commute to another, so making sure there is a functional transportation system is not just important to you now, but to your friend's city.
The greatest criticism about the original SimCity 4
was that data about the transportation network wasn't easy to understand, until the game's Rush Hour
expansion pack. This new SimCity
takes that head-on right from the start. I was happy to see that building and comprehending a public transportation network seems fairly intuitive. Visual cues about how useful a placed structure will be before placed and how far Sims will walk to get to it will save a lot of trial-and-error city planning.
The demo concluded with us watching a bank being held up and cops coming to the rescue. They failed, so the presenter blew up the donut shop next to the police station as punishment. I also got to check out the fun fireworks display following the completion of the airport.SimCity
won't have a narrative like Tropico 4
, but it will have a challenges and missions, but Maxis isn't talking about that at the moment.
"City specialization is also really key," said producer Jason Haber. "You can now make a tourist town, an industrial town. I think players are going to find other specializations that we didn't even think about."
The game is gorgeous and so much of what I saw hits the right notes for fans of the series and those who will become city planners for the first time. Whether it was the build I saw or the raw power of the game, there were some hiccups in building placement. Much like every SimCity before it, I may be asking for PC upgrades this holiday before the game ships in February.