It could have been great. It still isn't.

User Rating: 5.5 | SimCity PC
Less than five months, and six updates later, SimCity is still not the game it promised to be. Initial launch issues aside, the game itself is fundamentally flawed and will likely never redeem itself, no matter how many patches and updates are pumped into it. Part of this is due to the fact that SimCity is living in the shadow of its predecessors. With SC4, a game that was considered by many to be too complex, and with many of the developers admitting that they'd painted themselves into a corner gameplay-wise throughout the series, Maxis came back with the knee-jerk reaction that will see this game wither long before fans of SC4 ever think of putting that game down. Gameplay is shallow, with no true depth of simulation: place a road, zone some RCI, and you have a city. There is no nurturing, no true balancing act of offsetting each thrust outwards against employment and budget and utilities, and the arrival of your first skyscraper is no cause for celebration, as it happens within fifteen minutes in many cities. In SC, the game forgives you at almost every step of the way, and in being so lenient, the game simply fails to engage on any long-term scale. There are other problems, too: city size is appalling, and coupled with the accelerated growth rate of your cities, you can fill a map in less than an hour and move onto the next, filling a whole region with bloated, grotesque pastiches of cities, every one packed into a tiny box, with absolutely no overspill, which from an immersion point of view looks absolutely dreadful.

Talking of looking dreadful, the graphics have quickly grown stale and tired, with EA's tried and trusted formula of making sure that graphics scale to almost any machine providing us with bland, blocky toy-town buildings, hideous sprites and laughable foliage. Graphical glitches and bugs abound, or the graphics are just so bad that they appear to be bugged.

The game was so full of promise, and the legions of naysayers that doubted the ability of the series to resurrect itself have been vindicated totally. A crying shame, but hopefully not entirely without hope: with the Maxis studio now alive once more and The Sims still keeping the simulation end of the business very much afloat, there may just be enough incentive for them to try one last time. A blend of SC4's harsh yet realistic learning curve with some of SC's exciting and dynamic new features could just be the saving grace of the series.

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