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Review: SimCity


The online-only aspect of SimCity is both an important feature of the game and the source of all the controversy it’s attained, so rather than weaving it into the gameplay section, it’s getting its own page.

Sim City is actually more of an mmo then it is a singleplayer game. If Maxis is to be believed, its online features are woven deeply into the fabric of the game, and though you don’t play directly against people beyond the region you’re in, the entire game economy is based on  what the player base collectively does for any given server. If you drill for oil, the price of that oil on the market depends on how many others are trading in oil. The same goes for any other resource, natural or manufactured. It’s a very cool feature that adds complexity to the game and makes the world a bit more real. You feel like you get to contribute to the overall sim-world when you do this, instead of being isolated to the tiny plot of land you’re on.


Datamaps revealing resource deposits can lead to you entering the global market by trading what you've extracted


Unfortunately, to support this economy, SimCity requires you to be always connected to the internet, even when playing alone on a private region and have no intention of sharing your game with anyone else. A lot of players are up in arms over this, partly due to the drawbacks any online only game will experience, but also because many people suspect this is all just an elaborate way for EA to get online-only DRM into SimCity. Maxis claims the online requirement is deeply rooted into the code of the game and was always meant to be there. This also means it can’t be changed to appease fans without heavily reworking the game from the ground up.


If we trust that the developers are being honest though, it doesn’t make things any better. You still wind up with an online-only game that has, up until now, been largely unplayable; only this time, instead of being caused by DRM, it’s caused by terrible game-design. You see, CitiesXL is another city planning game that was released a few years back, and it too, has a resource trading world economy system. Most likely, this is where Maxis got the idea from. However, in CitiesXL, when you didn’t connect to the online community, you were simply given a standard resource price in lieu of what the “live” figure would have been. SimCity made a monumentally poor decision when didn’t implement a similar feature to their economy. It would have been an excellent way to give everyone what they wanted and still kept the core gameplay the same.

David F.
A grad student in experimental physics, David is fascinated by science, space and technology. When not buried in lecture books, he enjoys movies, gaming and mountainbiking

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