Video game corner: SimCity

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By Kristofer Hammer

SimCity invokes curiosity for experimentation. It still creates an engaging experience that is both playfully fun and cognitively challenging for all ages.

The latest release is a reboot of the  franchise developed by Maxis Games. The cooperative multiplayer focus has lead the game to reimagine what it takes to build a city.

Much of the process in city development is streamlined. Zoning is free, and the construction of roads automatically places it alongside the electrical and waterlines.

New data maps let players know everything from the direction of regional wind to the amount of waste produced by the city.

This immediate response allows players to correct immediate problems and plan for natural city improvements, such as additional recycling centers or hospitals. Natural disasters make game play hectic, since players need an intimate knowledge of the city’s needs.

Despite these improvements, the game includes major differences from SimCity 4, including the removal of terraforming, agricultural zoning, subways and larger building plots.

In SimCity, roads define where you can build, and natural terraforming happens when roads are built by cutting into sides of hills, creating unusable space.

This directly ties to the core change in design: its multiplayer format. Whereas in previous games players could build a city and take care of its residents’ needs, cooperative multiplayer allows for specialization.

This means that under ideal circumstances, players could come together with the common purpose of building a healthy region by catering their specific cities for the greater good.

SimCity is still fun to play. Though some key design choices render the game flawed in ways that make the previous games seem better.

If a single player mode was added, the game would still be worse because much of the creativity in city design would be limited by the cooperative building. Maxis Games has much to learn from this installment.

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