Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Sim City 2013 Impressions

'm pretty much addicted to the new Sim City game at this point. Look, I know it's EA and they're evil. I know they did a crappy job with the launch. I know the always-online DRM excuse is feeble on a good day. That still didn't stop me from buying. I feel a bit dirty (since we all must vote with our wallets, right?), but few things in life are as personally satisfying to me as Sim City. And, let's be honest, it was a long, long time between iterations.

Put aside the political shenanigans, and you have (what I think is) a pretty solid game. I'm a fan of most (if not all) of the improvements they made to the gameplay itself. It's prettier, more intuitive and, if possible, more addictive than ever.

In today's age of DLC, I fully expect content packages that do things like "open bigger city tiles" and "extend your borders." Some folks will no doubt feel nickle and dimed. I would argue that it's all in the execution. If they give free updates interspersed with mostly cosmetic "for pay" packages, I would be a happy camper. I don't want to get too much into this argument, as it's both heated and over-hashed, says I.

Instead, I'd like to focus on the gameplay and my initial impressions. So, in no particular order, here we go:

  • I seem to get a lot of "Crime has the upper hand" messages, but have a zero crimes committed per day stat... very odd.
  • Found this Google Docs Spreadsheet. which is pretty comprehensive. Well worth a look, particularly if you're struggling from the "not enough workers" probably that I'll touch on next.
  • So it appears that to balance both jobs and workers, you are roughly working with this equation... C+I+P = R. That is, Commercial, Industrial, and Ploppables equals Residential. C, I, and P all generate jobs. R generates workers. That means you need a whole crap-ton of R to fill all your jobs. What's more, high density R doesn't seem to be as dense as high density C or I. Doing the math, you need like 4 high rise R buildings to fill up the jobs for one C skyscraper. See that spreadsheet for more info. For me, it means my cities tend to look like 80% R, 20% everything else. I hope they tweak this, even if it is realistic.
  • I hope a bigger plot DLC comes out first. Filling up the city tiles right now is too easy. Especially if you are using a lot of ploppables.
  • Specialization in mining and trading seems a great way to make money, even if you don't go full tycoon. I find myself always throwing down for these and then exporting to the global market.
  • I wish it were easier to tell which roads were feeding which buildings so I could upgrade accordingly.
  • Sometimes the UI seems pretty slow to update to a change I made... even on cheetah speed!
  • My buddy really missed the ability to set the funding level like in previous version. I find I'm partial to being able to turn individual modules on/off to achieve the same end. Seems more intuitive to me, but perhaps less real world?
  • Which brings me to my next point... the game seems to balance on the edge of "simulation" vs "game." Some things are game-y, some seem to give a nod to reality.
  • Those RCI problems I mentioned earlier are a good example of this... maybe they're realistic, but I think I'd prefer a more game-y implementation to add variety to the cityscapes.
  • My buddy was really bemoaning the lack of transparency to the underlying statistics. He thought previous games did a better job of that.
  • The LFR version of region building bugs me a bit. I feel like I'm somewhat dependent on my neighbors not to be poor mayors. Their rampant crime may spill over into my city, for instance. This is probably pretty realistic, but makes me want to erect big, giant, Raccoon City-style walls.
That's it for now. Like I said, I'm really enjoying myself despite the shenanigans. Any of the rest of you trying this one out?

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