City based realism, any things possible.

User Rating: 9.2 | SimCity 4: Deluxe Edition PC
General/Summary:
I started playing this game in February and played for about 2 weeks when I no longer could keep my patience with the atrocious lack of performance. This game should not have been released or the requirements for your system should have been higher. The recommended 256 mb RAM and 32 mb on the graphics card are not sufficient to build a region of interconnected cities, which is the major new feature of this game compared to previous versions.

Yes, the graphics are better, the interface is somewhat improved, but the poor performance and some tragic changes for the worse makes this game a big disappointment.

Gameplay:
This is basically the same city building game as SimCity 2 and 3 with some changes.

You build a city by zoning land for housing, industry, commercial, farming (new) and garbage (new?). You provide your zones with roads, electricity, water and public transportation. Sims appear and build houses and go to work if they like your city concept. You will have to provide them with health care, education, culture and sports if you want your city to develop, grow and prosper. You have to watch your finaces closely so that there is a sufficient surplus in the city coffer for important improvements in all areas. The tax system has become a very finely tuned instrument so that you can encourage different types of housing, industry and commerce.

Pollution plays a big role in the game. Heavy industry and "dirty" power plants create a nasty cloud of pollution that will hang over your city. You will have to go for cleaner power production if you want to build large cities as well as limit car transport by introducing public transport.

You can sell and buy services in form of electricity, water and garbage between cities as long as you have created the required connection between them. You can switch between cities and have parallell developments.

In theory this is all very well.

I got as far as having one major city > 100K, 8 medium ones and 4 minor ones all interconnected with both services and business deals.

The problem with the game is that you need to develop a pretty good sized city (over 100K) before you get to energy production that is clean e.g. hydro, solar or nuclear plants. When you have reached this size the game is already becomming miserably slow. You will have to switch between your smaller cities and your major city to make it really interesting to build the region. Every time you switch to your major city it will take time to have it loaded. It will take time to check for plants to replace, where to build new plants etc since you may have to both move around the map or flip it one way or the other. It becomes incredibly frustrating. The worst thing is when you run out of electricity or water. Suddenly all your deals are cancelled and you have to go back and forth to create new deals.

So what else is not too good?

1. Electricity production

In previous versions you could easily create a landscape with waterfalls and rapids. Here you could place hydro stations.

Now all water will be on the same flat level. You plunk down your hydro plant by the side of a lake or ocean. It takes for ever before you get to this stage. You have to live through a number of coal or gas plants.

2. Water production

In previous versions there was a distinction made between sweet water from lakes and rivers that could be tapped for city water and salt water that could not be used. Now you plunk down water pumps anywhere without any connection to water. The water from these pumps becomes polluted for no particular reason.

These two changes for the worse are important because they take away the very best of the game - the close resemblance to reality.

Another area which is weak would be the advisors. They are of very little help. One comment from the traffic advisor is particularely annoying (there is a bus stop which is of no use). Finding that bus stop may be quite a problem when you have a city with plenty of sky scrapers. You will probably have to flip the map a number of times.

It is furthermore quite difficult to get people interested in using the buses. You would imagine that placing bus stops right where the major indistries are and by the biggest high rises you would definitely get a lot of traffic. Not so. You will get a lot of bus stops that are only used 1 or 2 percent. Sims also tend to neglect the railroads. I never got as far as having a complete subway system before I stopped playing but it comes late in the game and costs a bundle.

You can build airports and sea ports. The only advise you get is that this may be good for your city. I would like to see some kind of investment plan based on what I have in terms of industry, commerce and schools. How will this investment affect my city in terms of dollars and cents. If advisors cann't provide me with any useful help I'd rather kick them all and save me a bundle.

The best I can say is that intentions were good but please clean up your act!

Graphics:
Graphics are OK but stunning.

Sound:
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