E3 2008: SimCity Creator Updated Hands-On Impressions

We get our grubby little hands on the God buttons in the Wii version of hit city-planner game SimCity Creator.

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We recently took a look at SimCity Creator for the Nintendo Wii, and in the process unearthed some of the new features available and lurking within. Today we got hands-on with the game at EA's booth and discovered some of the subtle, nuanced gameplay to be found, and how it will work when it ships later this year.

Curvy roads might not sound like a huge upgrade, but they are making their debut in SimCity Creator and will let you finally create the traffic conditions that you've only dreamed about. It's as easy as simply selecting one of the preset shapes--such as a square or circle--and then dragging the silhouette until it meets your size requirements, and away you go. Alternately, you can simply select the road icon and draw them on. This freedom means that you'll also be able to create cement crop circles from a height to indicate either the city's visionary design or the corporate brand of your choice.

We also got a look at hero building during our preview. These are units that unlock physical attributes for the zone in which they're created. For example, creating a traditional-looking Chinese temple in your city's downtown will cause the buildings in its immediate proximity to automatically adapt and take on the physical characteristics of the hero structure. Hero buildings are unlocked during the single-player campaign by completing mission objectives. We're previously also seen crystal, future, and cake hero buildings, each of which adds a unique feel to the area where they're located. Steerable vehicles are also making their first appearance, and an EA spokesperson told us that in one case you'll need to use the game's planes (and jets later in the game, through upgrades) to save a citizen with a medical condition by locating him or her from the air, making a pickup, and then safely delivering your patient to the nearest hospital for treatment.

SimCity has always prided itself on the other half of creation: destruction. It wouldn't be much of a game without this crucial element, and rather than simply port the popular PC mechanics, the team is hard at work to fully utilize the Wii Remote in some clever ways. Launching a meteor attack on your populous is as simple as selecting it from the game menu, waiting for the red vignette effect to appear on the screen, and then making sharp throw-down style motions to let all heck break loose. Tornadoes need to be spun up to be unleashed, and this is achieved by making a fast stirring motion with the controller in midair. A clear winner in our minds was the murder ball, a huge, hulking spiked ball that dropped from the heavens. Once it's on the ground, you'll need to tilt the controller left, right, up, and down to roll the ball through the city. It's an odd mash-up (no pun intended) between Marble Madness and Katamari Damacy, and is a great way to do quick and easy demolition.

EA reps on hand also confirmed during our presentation that SimCity Creator will not feature any online play, or the ability to share your cities with your friends. Although that's a seemingly glaring omission, EA did confirm that the game will include online leaderboard support for tracking high scores.

SimCity Creator for the Wii is shaping up nicely and offers both a familiar take on the popular city-planning franchise with some new features and a control system built specifically for the platform. The game will be rolling its way into stores on September 23 this year.

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