There is a long list of games that will go down in history for many different reasons, be it the first to use some mechanic, the pinnacle of a genre or the game that completely revolutionises a genre. There are some, however, that I feel will go down in history as being games that help to shape you in your formative years in to the kind of gamer you will be for the rest of your life.
For my fiancée it was the Final Fantasy franchise, for my younger cousin it was the Sonic series. For me, one such game was SimCity. It also happens to be among the first of a series of games in which there was no way to “win” or “lose”, it simply was what it was; a virtual city which you ran for good or ill. Your task was to make the important decisions to shape the metropolis-to-be under your care.
There is no doubt in my mind that SimCity nurtured and grew my attraction towards empire management / “God” style games, I always have one in some format or another installed on my machine, and now the wonderful guys at Maxis are returning to the game they built their name on with a brand new SimCity.
Once more in to the breach.
From the moment I heard of the next instalment in the series, I have been lapping up each and every little scrap of detail I could get my hands on and I am now at a stage where I am filled in equal measure with excitement at what I have seen and hope/trepidation over what may be.
For starters, the graphics look amazing. Not only have they brought them up to par with that of the Sims, but they have taken it a step further (assuming that the in game footage that is floating around hasn’t been running on the Enterprise Holodeck), looking clean, smooth and just all-round fantastic.
What’s in the box?
So the genie in the bottle that creates SimCity’s mojo has a name, and its name is Glass Box, and from the claims I’ve read this is one impressive game engine. They say that thanks to Glass Box, every last Sim, product, vehicle and other unit within the game is its own agent within the engine and every single one of them follows their own subroutines. By all accounts this should result in the game experience having a much more dynamic and real feel in regards to how your populace reacts to your decisions as Mayor.
The final piece of the jigsaw
If there was ever something missing from the SimCity franchise, it was the interaction between your city and others in the area, whether it be economical in the way of imports and exports or if were on a more humane level like sending aid in varying formats to cities in need. In the upcoming version you can connect your cities to regions, publicly online, in private clusters with your friends or among your own collection of cities.
The major benefit of this for me has been highlighted on the official website. The city-linking allows your cities to specialise, so you can have one city which produces vast quantities of power, then sells off the excess to a neighbouring city which doesn’t produce enough itself, but does have vast agricultural tracts, creating one massive ecosystem with strands connecting each and every single organism within it.