Poor controls and superfluous features hurt what is otherwise an enjoyable SimCity game.
- SimCity gameplay is still satisfying and entertaining
- Visuals are crisp and buildings are detailed
- Destroying a city is pointless but fun.
- Camera and cursor controls are linked, making building frustrating
- All attempts at humor fail miserably
- New features do little to set the game apart from previous entries in the series.
Last year, EA created a new flavor of the Sims called MySims for Nintendo platforms. MySims didn't turn the simulation world on its ear, but it did well enough to warrant a few more games and spin-offs. While not part of the MySims series, SimCity Creator takes the classic city-building gameplay known to PC gamers and infuses it with a bit of MySims charm. Despite the presence of the cutesy characters, all the complexity of previous SimCity games is intact; it's just hiding under a thin cloak of superfluous features and poor controls.
Your goal in SimCity Creator is to construct a town and help it grow into a thriving metropolis. As the mayor, you'll need to meet the demands of your citizens, keep a careful eye on your budget, and build new structures that encourage growth. It's a decades-old formula that still works well today. In addition to the standard Free mode, which lets you build the city of your dreams with little to no restrictions, there's a Mission mode. In Mission mode, you're given a goal and a time limit to complete it. These goals range from reaching a population of 10,000 to saving your city from complete destruction. Later missions can be very challenging and satisfying; unfortunately, you're only given one save slot in Mission mode, which means if you're having trouble with a mission, you'll have to restart if you decide to a try a different one.
SimCity Creator boasts a number of new features that are supposed to set it apart from the other games in the series, but they do little to enhance the core SimCity experience. Hero buildings, for example, are structures that change the appearance of your city but not the function. If you build a coliseum, your town will take on Roman features; if you construct a crystal skyscraper, your city will evolve into a shining metropolis. It's neat to watch your city transform under the shadow of these great structures, but the change is only aesthetic.
If you're feeling sadistic, you can wreak destruction on your city in a number of ways. Fires, earthquakes, giant robots, and more can all be unleashed on your hapless population with the click of an icon. It can be fun to watch a tornado ravage your city, but other than the few times you're required to use it in the Mission mode, there's really no purpose for this destruction. It's just a costly and hazardous way to clear land.
The advisor feature from past games returns, but this time, it has a MySims-style twist. Instead of making the advisors helpful by having them dispense advice, EA tried to make them funny by giving them lame personality profiles and catchphrases. Finance advisor Sasha is more likely to tell you of her love of bananas then how to manage your budget. It costs more to hire Rhonda than Matt, but you're not told why. Maybe it's because Matt likes game shows, whereas Rhonda likes to seize the day. These pointless profiles are accompanied by a news ticker that spits out all sorts of ridiculous "news," such as "A cat was arrested for burglary." Real news and advice is occasionally buried under the layers of goofy gags, but it's never as helpful as you might like.
The only new feature with any real impact on gameplay is the ability to make curved roads. You no longer have to set up a city in block-by-block grids. Instead, you can squiggle lines all over the place using the Wii Remote and make a twisting asymmetrical metropolis. While it's nice to finally have this option included in a SimCity game, control issues make it difficult to use. Don't be surprised when your curved roads come out looking like you were holding the Wii Remote with your feet. Everything in SimCity Creator is controlled with the Wii Remote. The D pad navigates menus while the motion controls mimic a mouse and handle the cursor. The problem with this setup is that the motion controls also move the camera. Moving the cursor too far from the center of the screen sends the camera soaring in that direction. There's no option to separate the two or to lock the camera in place, so you have to have a steady hand and a lot of patience if you want to build that perfect city.
There is a multiplayer mode of sorts in SimCity Creator. By going to the contest area, you can enter your city in various contests and see how you rank against your friends. You can't see leaderboards until you enter a contest, though, so you never know exactly what you're up against. It's a bare-bones mode, but it provides some more challenge if you've already blown through the Mission mode.
The crisp and clean presentation is easy on the eyes. The diverse hero buildings feature a fair amount of detail while the motion-controlled helicopter or airplane rides let you get up close and personal with your city. The menus--with their big symbols and smart organization--are easy to navigate. The charming MySims characters fit in nicely with the visuals, though you don't see or interact with them too much.
If you've never played a SimCity game before and have a capable computer, you're better off tracking down an older version. You'll get most of the features, all of the depth, and none of the control issues of SimCity Creator. If the Wii is all you've got, you'll still find a serviceable SimCity game in Creator, but you'll just have to dig a little deeper to find it.