SimCity 4: Rush Hour E3 2003 Preshow Report

The first expansion pack to Maxis' latest city-building game is being shown at E3 2003.

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Maxis and Electronic Arts recently announced SimCity 4: Rush Hour, the first expansion pack for the latest installment in the classic SimCity series, and it's being shown for the first time at the 2003 Electronic Entertainment Expo. Scheduled for release this fall, SimCity 4: Rush Hour will add a number of new features, building sets, and tools to Maxis' city builder, giving even more depth to an already sophisticated strategy game.

As the title of the expansion suggests, Rush Hour will focus on expanding the roadways of SimCity 4--literally, in some cases. Now players will be able to further customize their cities with new transportation options such as one-way streets, wide avenues, a ferry system, and elevated train networks. These are modeled respectively off downtown transportation in San Francisco, New York City, Seattle, and Chicago, and all will affect how the sims of your city will be able to get around--ultimately affecting their satisfaction ratings and your city's economy. You'll even be able to place signposts throughout your city, demarcating various districts, landmarks, and other key areas.

Rush Hour will also add 50 new structures, also focused on transportation, such as seaports, rail yards, helipads, historic train stations, and more. Yet perhaps the game's most surprising feature is that it gives you the ability to directly control any of the cars, helicopters, and ambulances seen roving around your city. You'll be able to guide them to their destinations or just cruise around town. It remains to be seen how useful of a new feature this will be.

The expansion is also adding a new European building tileset, which will allow you to design quaint European villages or bustling cities, rather than just American-style ones. That should help give SimCity 4 a great deal more variety, at least from a visual standpoint.

There will be new ways to demolish your city as well. SimCity games have always let you wreak havoc upon your city in the form of various disasters, and Rush Hour will add a few new ones. Crime-infested neighborhoods will now be victimized by thieves and carjackers. Or, for a stranger and more dangerous catastrophe, a full-on UFO invasion might swoop in to turn your city into something like a scene from Independence Day. And yes, you'll be able to control one of the UFOs yourself.

Enhanced tools for monitoring your city will be available for when you're in a more productive mood. Most importantly, you'll have access to a view that shows key data on how adjacent cities are collaborating, a feature missing from SimCity 4.

SimCity 4: Rush Hour is slated for release this fall. Stay tuned for more information.

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