The latest SimCity game launches in SA today (8 March 2013). Game critics seem to agree that it’s a worthy entry into the venerated franchise, but EA has once again dropped the ball with their online authentication systems, leaving many gamers incredibly disappointed.
EA promises that things should be resolved for the international and therefore SA launch: SimCity SA launch to be “stable”.
This leaves us reminiscing about how much the games have visually evolved over the years, and to that end we have lined up some screenshots for the PC versions (the spiritual home of Simcity).
It all started in 1989 when series progenitor, Maxis co-founder and industry luminary Will Wright released SimCity.
SimCity was redefining boundaries of games back in its day, as it could technically neither be won or lost. The perpetual simulation will run forever if you balance your books correctly. Because of this, Will Wright and Maxis had a hard time getting a publisher to sign on.
However, after four years in development, in 1988 Broderbund finally saw the potential of the captivating city-building sim. The game was first released for Amiga and Macintosh platforms, with IBM PC and Commodore 64 following shortly.
The game was a critical success and paved the way for a deluge of Sim titles, none of which could match up to the initial impact made by SimCity.
SimCity 2000 (1994)
SC2K refreshed the Simcity brand and its success cemented it as a stalwart franchise. Numerous new gameplay features and buildings expanded on the core simulation experience, and introduced now core SimCity elements, such as ticking news feeds and complex scenarios to challenge players further.
The visuals obviously took a giant leap forward as well.
SimCity 3000 (1999)
SC3K once again overhauled the core gameplay while introducing an umber of new elements to the simulation mix. Management of services became even more integral to running a successful city. Advisors were added to guide the player to making correct decisions around their city planning and policies, and citizens began to interact with the player by petitioning for certain services or by-laws.
Real world landmarks were introduced, adding a nice aesthetic touch to cities. A live-recorded, composed music score became a now core accompaniment to the game.
SimCity 4 (2003)
Sim City 4 greatly improved on terraforming systems with a vastly improved game engine, making for more natural looking landscapes and spectacular city-altering natural disasters. Sim City 4 marked the leap from a 2D isometric game engine to a full 3D engine, although still limited to fixed perspectives for performance reasons.
Linked regions were also a big addition to the game, and cities were no longer created in isolation from each other. Players could link numerous city tiles across a large region, and integrate services between them, such as selling water and electricity to a neighbour, or processing garbage on behalf of a large neighbour for additional income.
SimCity 4 also interestingly included a MySim mode, in which players could create their own Sim citizen to live out a life, or import Sims from Maxis’ other immensely popular The Sims game.
EA can’t count to 5, so the latest SimCity is simply titled thus. The game has been dragged into the modern PC gaming era of
always-annoying always-on internet connectivity requirements. Maxis justifies this by touting a persistent regional and global economy system that’s influenced by all players online, which admittedly does sound pretty interesting.
Multiplayer features will include cloud saves and persistent statistics. Multiplayer will use an asynchronous server model. Interactions with friends (or foe) will be possible without being simultaneously online.
SimCity is powered by Maxis’ new Glassbox engine, which promises to bring interesting new elements to the classic city-sim gameplay we have come to expect.
- Glass Box is a data-driven simulation that Maxis has built for Maxis-style games, not just SimCity, but other games like Sim Copter and Sim Tower.
- Maxis pins it as their “best bet for the future as a PC driven studio.”
- Glass Box is a simulation of resources (wood, water, pollution, labour hours), units (houses, factories, shops, workplaces), maps (uniform grids laid over the world such as coal, oil, forests and land value).
- If it is being simulated it is visualised, if it is visualised it’s being simulated (insert profundity here).
- SimCity 5 is expected to support “tens of thousands” of units (people and vehicles) each with their own self-contained simulation logic and can all be moving at once.
- No more zig-zagging roads, pipes and power cables. “Fully 3D spline-based paths” replace them, making placements look even on uneven terrain or awkward directions.
- Will have online features such as cloud saves, statistics and multiplayer.
- Multiplayer will use an asynchronous server model. Interactions with friends or foe will be possible without being simultaneously online.