Setting Aside Our Differences: SimCity & Me

** SimCity, Sim City, SimCity 5, SimCity 2013, whatever you want to call it, I’ve seen it in all variations over the past month. For the sake of this post, I will refer to is as SimCity <– there’s no space there, and I kinda like it, it’s edgy and cool. **

SimCity, The Game

The last blog post contained my first impressions of the latest SimCity. Since then, I’ve continued to venture into the constantly online world of EA’s newest title. Has my opinion changed? Have I learned anything from that first day or two of play? Are my cities and regions prospering?

Yea, pretty much.

I have focused on one region that contains three cities, and all three are doing well. I’ve connected them via seaport, train and highway. They share services (buying and selling). And there seems to be a nice cohabitation of the tri-city area. My money and population is growing, but sadly – and this is a constant negative against the game – my city remains the same. Buildings are now self-upgrading based on what the sim-citizens require, industry booms or collapses based on supply and demand and availability of workers. But my little city will never expand or grow larger because of the limited space imposed by the games designers.

The limited city size could be altered. I can easily see an expansion pack, for a little fee, offering players the ability to expand their cities from current size to a slightly larger grid size, a-la any Facebook game you can pretty much name. There is just enough space between the cities that this could easily be implemented.  I look forward to see if this might be the case in the near future.

I’ve come to love SimCity, it’s a great addition to the series. No, the “always on” connection isn’t cool and shouldn’t even be there, but it is and we aren’t going to sway EA’s mind on the matter right now. There is a learning curve for folks like me, but once you get the basics down – where to put what buildings and how to upgrade your government buildings to better your city – and learn to make decisions on your transportation system and industries, things start to come together. Don’t let the rumblings of the Internet bring you down without trying it for yourself. If you do, you are going to be missing out on a pretty sweet game, especially if you are a fan of the Sim-franchise.

The most infuriating flaw in the game is the supply/demand between zones. Commercial seems to play very little in the greater sum of things, but residential and industrial rule the roost. Citizens move in and take jobs in your industrial sectors. Industry then supplies freight to local commercial stores or exports it to other areas in the region. Where the sim-citizens can work, however, and how large the businesses can grow, are based on education of your people. Elementary, High, Community Colleges and Universities all come in to play there, as well as increasing the tech-level of your citizens/city.

Where it’s broken – in my uneducated opinion – is that, no matter how large your population may be, industry will flash that there just aren’t enough workers to fill the demand for jobs. This hurts the overall industrial sector of your city. On the reverse side, citizens will complain because there are no jobs to allow them to earn money, even though industry is dying for people to come and work.

It’s almost like real life. I constantly hear folks comment, “Oh, there just aren’t any jobs out there.” Oh, no, they’re out there. They just aren’t what you want to do 🙂 So on second thought, maybe it isn’t broken at all. It’s just a reflection of our reality on a digital world.

SimCity – good game with the potential to be great. Try it for yourself, don’t let the hateful denizens of the interwebz make this decision for you. If you are stuck and don’t know how to continue or get out of a slump, check out Youtube, search forums before you declare it quits.

EA’s Origin

To play SimCity online, you must first open EA’s little slice of the web, named Origin. Akin to Valve’s Steam Store, Origin attempts to be a little hub for all your EA games. You buy a game from the digital store, it is registered in your Origin desktop software. Opening Origin, you can see the store, any sales they’re having, if any of your friends are online that also have an Origin account, and check out your EA game library. From the game library you can also download bonus content (free and for a few bucks).

Origin is a bit slow in loading, and since you have to open it before SimCity opens, connects and begins to load, it really slows down getting into the game. As part of EA’s attempt at damage control over the SimCity debacle, they have offered folks who purchased the SimCity game before March 18 and installed it, a free game download from the Origin store. Not just any game, however, but a game from a preselected list.

  • Battlefield 3 (standard edition)
  • Bejeweled 3
  • Dead Space 3 (standard edition)
  • Mass Effect 3 (standard edition)
  • Medal of Honor Warfighter (standard edition)
  • Need for Speed Most Wanted (standard edition)
  • Plants vs. Zombies
  • SimCity 4 Deluxe

An interesting mixture of games to choose from, especially with SimCity 4 thrown in with it’s awesome old-school offline play. For the record, I selected Mass Effect 3, just because I was curious how it played on the PC. So far, I’m not too hot on it with all the keystrokes and controls.

The Origin software is a distraction and kind of gets in the way of my gameplay. It makes the fact that SimCity requires online play that much more annoying since you have to open this, connect to the internet, then do the exact same thing with the game you’re trying to play. I could do without all that mess.

In Closing

SimCity is a good game with plenty of room to get better. Online play or not, there it is, to avoid the game because of it would be an injustice. Origin is probably the biggest disappointment, slowing down my gaming by offering one more hurdle to jump before settling down to play. The offer of a free game to folks who had to put up with launch problems was most definitely the LEAST EA could do, so thanks for that, I guess. There are still a lot of bugs to be ironed out. And, most importantly, I’m anxiously looking ahead to see what kind of future the game has and what EA will offer us in the form of DLC because, face it, you know it’s coming.

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