SimCity for the attention deficit generation
Posted by Tobold's Blog [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 11 March 2013, 3:34 am
The good news is that EA started up a boatload of new servers, and SimCity was running smoothly over the weekend. The bad news is that after building a few cities over the weekend, I am thoroughly disenchanted with the game. You probably already heard that the cities you can build are rather small, more towns than cities. But did you know that they are also designed to be rather short in time? The game civilization is advertised with the slogan "Build an empire to stand the test of time". SimCity fails that test.

This is most obvious if you are specializing in mining or drilling oil: You have limited resources under your city, and the faster you dig them up, the sooner they run out. But the same is true for a resource every city needs: Water. Let your city run long enough, and it will run dry. That is if you ever get that far, usually a city suffers an economic collapse long before that. Income in SimCity is rather volatile, and gets increasingly so with time. Even something innocent can kill the economy, for example I had one case where for some reason most of my industry started building bigger factories at the same time, killing my industrial income for the long building period. At no point in time can you just let your city run unattended, even if it is stable right now, it will automatically grow to a point where it collapses. And that is without even taking into account random disasters.

The game might be better if you share a region with friends. Strangely enough it is difficult to share a region with strangers, as the "join game" doesn't have an option to show only regions with empty city slots. You can show regions with abandoned cities, but usually you wouldn't want to take those. And due to DLC I also ran into the situation that I wasn't able to take over an abandoned city because it contained DLC content I didn't own. Alone in a region you can try to play several cities and help each other out. But some things I just couldn't figure out: For example I had a recycling factory producing metals and plastics, and built a trading post to export those globally. But that never worked, the recycling plant stopped working because it was full of metal and plastics, the trading post never exported anything, and then power supply of my city broke down because the global import of coal to my power plant suddenly stopped.

So I built about half a dozen cities over the weekend, each of which failed in one way or another after a few hours. It seems to me that SimCity is designed to be a fast game for players who want action all the time. If you do well, you unlock disasters to tear your city down. People like me, who want to slowly build up an optimized city aren't the target audience. I often have more fun with the very slow Anno Online than with the fast SimCity style of city building game.
Tobold's Blog



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