SimCity (2013) Review

NOTE: Due to Gamotere's updated review policy scores are no longer being used. Scores for this review were removed 07/03/2015.


Obviously SimCity is a little different to other games I've reviewed here. Neither do you play as a "character" or follow a story - rather you build. That's all SimCity does (but does it VERY well) and that means I can't really review the graphics in the same way, so it will be a little different a little shorter than normal - but hopefully that will be made up for in the coming weeks.

The first thing that I noticed about SimCity when preparing to write this review was that it actually looks great. Some games of this type try to get away with below-par graphics. Which they do, but it really is noticeable when a company put in extra effort to make a game look top-notch.

For example you can zoom in on buildings to see what people are saying, and only then can you appreciate how much detail has been put into them. Every building has been designed with accuracy that is very impressive, and I love that.


The landscapes (or places where you build your city) also all look great, and fairly realistic as well, but in a mildly cartoon-ish way that add's to the game's charm. The water looks great and the designs of the city-scapes are great as they mean you can choose a different one each time and have a totally different gaming-experience to one you've had before - that really increases the almost endless re-playability even further for me.

Bouncing off that, you can also choose different layout's for your "Country" full of cities ranging from just a few, to 12 (which I believe is the largest). This also adds to me wanting to re-pick up the game. I'll talk more about the regions in a later part of the review.

Inside The Game

SimCity is obviously all about building. Your job as "Mayor" of your city is to build somewhere that can work independently by itself, but also together with the other cities in the region. This means each city must (at first, at least) contain a Fire Station, Hospital, Police Station, means of powering the city and of course enough homes, shops and industry (which are constructed by the Sims, but you tell them where they go) to keep your residents occupied and safe. Of course building School's, places of Worship and more recreational buildings helps eventually, but I tend to go into that after I've got my city up and running properly.

I find SimCity incredibly addictive. I sit down to play it when I have a moment thinking "I'll just play this for half an hour to fill time" and I end up still playing an hour and a half later, trying to make my city function. That is the nature of this game - it brings you in and doesn't let you leave. You really won't want to put it down after starting it due to the fact that there is so much to do.

Although there are hour's of fun in SimCity the same old formula does get a little tiresome eventually, and you do run out of stuff to do to help make the game seem different. But that takes either a long time, or a lot of playing for an extended length over a week or so (eg. racking up over an hour every day for a week left me wanting something different). But that's easily solved - just start another game, preferably something completely different until you start feeling the urge again - it won't take long.

If that does happen, but you still want to be playing SImCity (or you have nothing else to play) my suggestion would be either try completely new buildings, or really have a go at making a region work together as one - this can be really rewarding. What this means is that each city in your region has a specific job to do. For example you create one with lots of shops, houses and a Univeristy or Schools - and have that as your University City. Do the same with another to create a power station city, business - just trying combinations can be

The Features

Music isn't a huge part of SimCity by any stretch of the imagination. It neither is a key focus of the game, or really matters. In fact, when playing a game like SimCity I prefer to listen to a podcast than the music. However, when playing for this review I did listen to the music (or I wouldn't be doing a very good job reviewing the game) and I didn't really notice it. Which I precisely what I think they were going for. In a game like this you don't want something that distracts you, makes you think "Oooh, this is nice!" you want to keep focused on building your city.

For me games like this are predominantly played to relax, and the music used really helps to do that. It's calming and very very subtle in a way that puts me at ease very quickly, keeps me focused and helps me to forget what I've been doing previous to playing. In short - it works well with the game.

In SimCity there isn't really a specific HUD in the traditional sense. HUD, of course, stands for head up display and is what you look at when your playing the game. It's that little navigation bar at the top of the screen in Skyrim, it's the map, health bar and 4 button's telling you what to press in the Assassin's Creed games. In SimCity the HUD has a much more simple function - it shows you what buildings//roads//City structures you can build at any given time. And, in my opinion, it's done quite well. It does take a while to learn how to use (the amount of times I've forgotten how to switch to the region view cannot be counted on one hand) but it's like riding a bike - once you learn you never forget. Which, as I mentioned in the previous part of the review, can be a problem when you're actually playing the game.

The UI is much the same as the HUD - not really traditional and I might go as far as saying they're almost merged into the same thing, so reviewing them separately is a pointless task - there is only one, which is both (if that makes any sense at all).

Was It Fun?

I think much more comes into this "was it fun" than any before. Because there is no campaign or story to play through there is a huge focus on "can you play it again and still have fun" rather than "was it fun when I played it". Don't get me wrong, I think its so much fun to play, but I do think that the ability to play it over and over and over again is lost after about 20 hours unless you're a super-hardcore SimCity player. Now, this could very easily change depending on how you play. If you try to max out your region, build every city to its peak and then try to make them all work together then you have a very different game.

This is testament to how tailored to the player SimCity can be. People can play it however they like, and everyone WILL get a different experience through the game. However you want to play it (within reason) you can, and you will have a blast.

That awards bonus points for fun in my book, because the developers aren't choosing how you have fun - you, the player, gets to decide. Which is fairly unique, at least in terms of video games I've played and reviewed.

In terms of things I think should or could be improved the thing that immediately comes to mind is EA's platform that is supposed to rival Steam: Origin. I think that is something we should talk about, because, while it may not be as bad as Uplay, it really isn't good. Sadly though, you have to buy and play SimCity through EA Origin. While it doesn't impact hugely, I wish it was on Steam so I can have one less program on my computer.

Despite all these brilliant qualities I don't find myself loving this game. It doesn't make me want to return, but I can see how people would love it, it just doesn't hook me, although I do love it when I dive in.


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