Since starting this site I have periodically played Sim City games with the intention of reviewing one. Each time I have gotten bored after about an hour and turned the game off.
Sim City (1989) is boring. It is a good first entry to the series, but still boring. SimCity 2000 I have fond memories of it, but it is very limited, and boring.
SimCity (2013) isn’t actually that bad now they have removed the always on feature, so I’ll revisit that at some point, but I am going to leave out the first and second entries for now, and go straight to SimCity 3000.
You start off by choosing the settings you want:
The difficulty setting only really makes a difference on starting money, it does seem to tweek some settings in the background. But once you have played through on easy, starting on Hard is a breeze.
Your start date affects what items you start off with. Solar Panels aren’t invented till the late 20th century, so starting in 1900 will mean using coal power.
With the Unlimited Edition you can choose what type of landscape. This makes no different, just the aesthetic between different green plains, or TWO yellows! It doesn’t make a difference to gameplay, it just makes it look like a desert. The type of trees and type of building are a nice touch, but don’t change the game, or how things develop.
When you start out, you immediately build Industry, Power, and Water. After that. Residential and some Commercial. After that? Well, repeat. Sim City is always very easy to figure out. Watch the R-C-I demand button, and only build what they want and you’ll never have an issue. SimCity 3000 inroduced neighbourhood deals, meaning you can buy/sell excess utilities. In early years on hard this is needed to be able to afford both water and power
Once you have money coming in, you add your schools/hospitals/police etc, you start to address what your bastard moaning Sims want. You can review early deals for power, renegotiate terms, or if you’re in the position, you can start to build your own utilities.
However, your Sims will ALWAYS MOAN, even on low ass taxes your Sims will whinge for lower taxes. They whinge for more schools, they’ll even whinge for better transport options despite being 5 squares away from 5 different forms of transport!
It can be a little fiddly figuring out where all the items are, Jails are hidden under the Police button. Schools are with Hospitals, it is fairly intuitive, but you can go on a “placing Jails rampage” when you forget that you last built a Jail, not a Police Station. This can lead to you screaming at the advisers to stop asking you to build more Police Stations because you think you built a tonne…
Other than that, you’ll get rewards for doing certain things. Have decent education, you’ll be offered a University. Have decent Tourism, you’ll be offered an Amusement Park. Some of these are free, some of these (like the Prison) give you money each month. They can be useful early on, but your Sims will whinge about some of them (Gambling and Toxic Waste). Again, this is easy to deal with, if you keep your R-C-I balance right you’ll always be able to expand. And you can remove earlier items like the Casino to improve land value and reduce whinging. These rewards depend on how your city is developing, some are population based, but the best ones are to do with the environment you have built. It means you can attract different rewards at different times in your gane. But figuring out what triggers some rewards can be a chore.
The only time I had any issues with income, was when I accidentally cut the power chord to half of my city and didn’t notice for 3 years. I led to most of my city getting abandoned, and thus I lost all the income. But that took about 2 minutes of gameplay to then sort it out.
I get bored with SimCity fairly quickly. Once you have the build balance sorted – and if you’re reasonably competent, it won’t take you long to figure the balance – you’ll be able to scale upwards at a stupid rate.
Once you have money coming in, you’re able to drop taxes to 4% and still rake in way too much, meaning you can to afford exponential expansion. So once you hit the tipping point with the money, your inner city planner starts to truly emerge. You no longer have to haphazardly expand outwards, taking into account streams, or hills into your building plans. You can level everything and build American cities in huge efficient blocks, with no care for budget. It effectively becomes a sandbox mode at this point, as the only way you’ll run out of money is if you build 40 Microwave Power Plants.
While the above image doesn’t totally demonstrate the haphazard building on early game (bottom of the screen), it shows that as you expand, and get more money, the sections become larger, and more planned. In this particular example I expanded along the river due to water. Then opened a rich persons resort in North West Corner. Once the money tipped I planned and build the two huge sections incorporating 35% of the map. I was able to build and plan without ever coming close to running out of money.
After this, the only thing to acheive is the largest possible city. I have seen some online videos where people hit 6million Sims, but that took the bloke 3 years of planning and building. You can easily hit 3 million with any normal build, after that, it becomes about space and build efficiency. There is depth to it, but for me it is way too boring to get bogged down in that level of detail in this game.
I don’t really have much to say about SimCity 3000. It is a fun enough game, but it doesn’t hold my attention for long enough to get really into it. My play time on this file alone was about 6 hours, so there is depth, and most people will find replayability. But for me, the enjoyment comes in the difficulty, and once you hit 80,000 Sims the accelerated growth removes all the challenge, and it gets a bit tedious.
You can unleash disasters, and monsters, and rebuild afterwards, but in SimCity 3000 the disasters are all a little weak and end up destroying 3 water pumps…
Pros: It is fun, buildy buildy buildy. Jokes about Llamas, real cities mode
Cons: It gets boring
Back In The Day
SimCity 3000 sold over 5 million copies worldwide, and achieved critical praise to match. Though not as widely lauded as it’s predecessors, reviewers and fans alike praising the updated graphics and overall longevity.