Big Yellow Tutu

Sim City Societies November 26, 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — helenium @ 10:50 am
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If you run through the thousands of entries on this blog you will see that about three years ago my weekends were taken up with plenty of gigs, plenty of booze and very little sleep. Life is a little different now; weekends are for food, lie ins and nice walks. And most importantly, weekends are now for computer games.

I’ve been a long time fan of the Sim City series and have dutifully played each new version as it was released. Up until the weekend before last I had been spending my hours playing Sim City 4, dutifully ignoring the seemingly pointless linked up regions feature and instead being happy in the wonderful, wonderful ways to build up a city.

You can imagine my excitement when Sim City Societies was released then, I went straight from work to HMV, shunned requests to go the pub and instead headed directly for the sofa and the computer to get building some beautiful metropolises (is that the right pluralization???)

Anyway, the new game allows you to create themed cities with different societal values. You can create a city full of gingerbread houses and drama schools to make a Fun City; when you do this successfully the streets turn to gold and lamp posts turn to candy sticks. You can make an authoritarian hell hole, with CCTV everywhere, conditioning booths ala Clockwork Orange and prisons on every corner. There are about ten different options, including spiritual and industrial.

For the first few hours of playing I was happy, you place house by house rather than highlighting a whole area; and the same for work places, you even get to choose between types of work place – need more creativity? Get people working in a recording studio. Need more authority in your city? Get everyone working in the crime research office. The types of building available are astonishing, as are the city decorations. The potential for creating architectural masterpieces really made me happy.

But there’s just something very wrong with the game… its far too easy.

Maybe I’m missing something, but I’ve completed pretty much the whole game. The previous games had a monthly expenditure/income balance that you had to get right. Schools, transport, public amenities and power all cost money. You’d get income from tax on houses, work places and from deals with your neighbouring cities. Sim City Societies doesn’t have any of that it seems, as I said, maybe I’m missing something about the game.

Work places, houses and services cost a one off fee. No maintenance cost for parks, hospitals, power stations and whatnot. The work places you choose then bring in a daily pot of money for your treasury. Choose the high earning offices and you’ll soon be reaping the awards. But you’ll never lose money. Play the game on fast mode, with the days rolling past rather quickly, stop building and you’ll never run out of money. The Sims need more creativity in their life? Wait two minutes and you’ll have enough money to build them an art gallery.

They’ll also work anywhere. It doesn’t matter if they’re not educated enough to work in a bank, you don’t have to place more schools to fix that. I’ve you got some crime simply place a police station anywhere in your city and it’ll be fixed. All you have to do is keep them happy with after work venues and you’re sorted.

What also doesn’t make sense is that you can place buildings anywhere and they’ll effect your population. Power stations can be placed in the bottom corner of your city and never need to be connected up with pylons. If you’re short on spirituality you can place five buddha statues in the middle of a forest, miles away from inhabitants and it’ll still do it’s job.

Oh, and the building styles don’t update with time as they used to. You unlock new buildings as the game progresses, but unless you go around demolishing your original houses then your city will always look pretty much the same.

I think I’m going to use the game when I’m feeling arty and want to make a pretty city, but for an actual challenge, I’m tempted to go back to Sim City 4.

Unless anybody can point out where I’m going wrong?

I’m not using any of those left hand menu things – is that it? I haven’t bothered putting the happy/sad signs above everyone in the city – maybe they’re all jumping off my skyscrapers and I’m not noticing.

Having a scout about the internet it seems I’m not the only unhappy one, Euro Gamer sums its up nicely in their review; giving it a paltry five out of ten. Eek. Can anyone recommend a better city building game?

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