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S&S Review: SimCity

Title: SimCity
Format: PC
Release Date: February 5th
Publisher: EA
Developer: Maxis
Price: $59.99
ESRB Rating: E

SimCity has finally arrived and it's back with more of the same addicting and engaging gameplay that has made the franchise so popular.  It brings with it a wealth of new features and mechanics, that brings the franchise to a new all time high.

It's been nearly a decade since SimCity 4 was released, so I came in expecting a pretty big leap in the graphical department, and that's exactly what I got.  The game's visuals are more immersive than ever, with an extremely high level of detail for each city environment.  The new 3D engine allows you take advantage of the terrific visuals, giving you the ability to pan and move around the environments freely,  making the camera one of the best in the genre.  You would think that a game this massive would have a lot of repetition, but this isn't the case.  There are a lot of different buildings and homes that don't repeat, each building looks different from one another.  Like I previously said, the new engine titled, Glassbox, helps to create a living, breathing organism.  You can observe the city one person at a time if you wish.  You can slow down time an watch a house get built, or overlook a criminal getting caught by the authorities, that's just a few of the scenarios the A.I. can get into.  Of course you get all your cheeky humor that Maxis has been known for.  Not just every SimCity game, but every Sims game period has always had a great sense of humor.  Building descriptions and business names are mostly humorous, with some pretty distinctive names throughout a specific city.  Aside from the visuals, the music is great as well.  When you have a city management sim, you don't need a grand orchestral score behind it.  All you need is music that doesn't get old, and this is what you have here.  Mostly every Sims game has had some catchy and infectious tunes, and SimCity keeps that tradition.
Core Gameplay and Multiplayer:
Prepare to have your life taken away, because the game is more addicting than ever.  You probably won't make it too far before your first city erupts into flames and just fails miserably, but as you learn the many intricacies that go into creating a successful city, it makes it all the more satisfying when you finally create and sustain a good city.  Fortunately, the game comes with a pretty good tutorial system, that teaches you the basics, allowing you to minimize that learning curve.  There's still a lot of trial and error in the game, you can't always place a road where you want it, and the same goes for one of the larger landmarks.  Over time, the trial and error gameplay gets wiped out, you'll be building roads and constructing buildings in a snap. The city is more responsive as well, the UI does a great job of telling you what the city needs, or if things aren't going so well with a particular area.  You'll be given a lot of data for your city, and that adds to the addicting gameplay.  One of the biggest new features in the game is the new Region component, allowing players to connect with one another through a specific region.  When you create your city, you'll have to specify which region you want to be in.  Regions can contain three to 16 different cities, so you don't have to be a part of a bigger community if you don't want to, the choice is up to you.  I have to say that the regions allow for some pretty cool scenarios, like having the ability to share resources with each mayor.  This also allows players to specialize in a specific field.  You can be an oil baron if you wish, or you may want to be a less scrutinized a specialist.  The game definitely benefits from multiple cities, so if you don't want to play it cooperatively, you will have your hands full.  Maxis did a great of making the game feel connected, even when you're playing by yourself.
Final Thoughts: 
SimCity is pure fan service, outside and in.  The game has received the visual overhaul that it needed, and it greatly benefited the game as a whole.  The gameplay has been improved greatly as well, creating one of the best, and most addicting city management sim around.
S&S Rating: 9/10