Updated Wed, Mar 06, 2013 by Xerin
Lots of reviewers are being overly harsh on SimCity right now because of the online only play and the current service issues. I’m a bit more realistic when approaching the subject. Although I respect the community's opinion on the subject, I have my opinion. I don’t feel like I should drag the game through the dirt because the launch wasn’t perfectly smooth, or that the game should be villified for taking the Diablo 3 aproach and requiring online play.
If you don’t get what I’m talking about, Diablo 3 is a single player game that requires you to be online in order to play, the same as the latest SimCity. SimCity requires an internet connection, and your cities are saved within Maxis’s servers rather than locally. Many say this tactic was employed for DRM concerns only, but GlassBox has been designed to allow Maxis’s cloud computing system to share the burden of the heavy simulation, so that the game runs smoothly for most computers and lets their massive network help with the heavy lifting. Your computer is no longer the only number crunching facility when it comes to figuring out each sim’s day-to-day life, Maxis is sharing some of that burden.
Still, I can understand the grief that the online play requirement has caused some. Being unable to play solo without being online isn’t a satisfying experience, especially right now when the game servers are overloaded from the launch frenzy.
You do, however, lose a lot of the fun in the game whenever you lock yourself into a private region. SimCity isn’t like previous titles where you goal is to fill a giant blank region with various cities then stand up, grab a coffee, and pat yourself on the back. This is a cooperative online game where your city lives and breathes with multiple other cities captained by various other mayors. This is a game where you want to work together with other players, show off your city to your friends online, and reap the enormous benefits of being able to buy and sell power to other actual players.
Your neighbors work together to unlock various tech, build the great works that benefit everyone’s towns, and supply resources, assistance, and utility trades amongst everyone. There is just so much good mojo involved in playing online multiplayer that I’ve yet to have a single urge to play by myself.
While I understand that the growing trend of requiring online play for games that work as single-player is frustrating, and my multiplayer score reflects that, I personally enjoy the multiplayer aspects of the game. I would like to note that a lot of the queue issues have decreased since additional servers went live, and Maxis has shown good faith in working on the problems.
On a scale of rock star to Howard Hughes, I’d put this game in the “tissue boxes are fashionable footwear in my honest opinion” category. The addictive nature of the game had me play from 1 AM until 11 PM, almost missing an important meeting, followed by a few hours of sleep before jamming my mayoral top hat back on my head and managing my city.
This game lures you into a false sense of security with simplistic gameplay and instant gratification, then entraps you with its surprising depth and sheer entertainment value. It’s hard to contain my excitement for the gameplay as I write this, desperately wanting to log back in and play it instead of writing right now.
Instead of a perfect 100, from my rambling fanboy enthusiasm, I will critique one thing – the lack of a map editor can cut into the game time, and I hope editable regions come to SimCity at some point. That’s negative 10 DKP. Maxis, if you're reading this, please let us edit regions or design our own regions at some point. Even if the city locations remain static, let us terraform the land ourselves, I beg you.
Moving away from the fact that the Internet is required for single-player mode, this game is outright delightful. The gameplay is addictive, fun, easy to learn, and takes the series back to its roots--that honest innocent fun of placing. Even if you’re not a fan of the series, SimCity offers enough to draw you in by shedding the complicated simulation aspects of its predecessors and focusing on pure city building fun.