Share
submit to reddit
Pin it
SimCity

For those of you paying attention, EA's launch of SimCity was a disaster. Server problems combined with the always-online DRM requirement prevented many gamers from even being able to play the game, while others had to wait hours just to connect, more suffered crashes and glitches, and still others lost save files (and hours of progress) due to failures in specific servers that housed their game files.

It got so bad, online retailer Amazon.com pulled the game from its site, citing the unplayable state of the servers. They've since reinstated the game, but with a warning to consumers, and a lowly 1 1/2-star rating (as of the time of this writing).

Having participated in one of the closed Betas for the game, I was fully aware of the potential for problems, since Beta users were plagued by server issues that prevented many players from even being able to login to test the game. I had to wait hours before the server was operational long enough for me to load a city, and even then, I got booted off several times. It was incredibly frustrating, especially with the knowledge that the Beta would only last through the weekend, so I was under pressure to login as quickly as possible and spend as much time as possible with the game before the Beta ended.

So I fully anticipated server problems with the launch, since I didn't trust EA to put any real effort into making sure the game would work. This is the same EA that won a consumerist award for the "Worst Company in America" in 2012! And deservedly so! Despite the servers not being up to par during the two closed Betas, EA still seemed to think the online infrastructure was suited for a full retail launch. Boy were they wrong!

My lack of confidence in EA's ability to get their shit together in time for the launch, combined with my principled dislike of DRM and (especially) online-only requirements, caused me to delay my purchase of the game, despite this being a title that I've been waiting on for almost 10 years! I'm glad I decided to practice a modicum of consumer protest, as the game was literally unplayable for large portions of consumers during the first few days after launch. It's currently a week later, and I still haven't bothered to pick the game up.

Beta impressions (a mini-review in lieu of my purchase of the final game)

I did enjoy what was playable on the closed Beta, even though I was disappointed in the reduction of scope of the game (i.e. small city sizes). It was more like SimTown than SimCity. It seems like the design philosophy was geared towards making the region simulate the city, while the individual "cities" are really just small suburbs or districts. Upgrading buildings was fun, but the choices seemed pretty limited, and most of what was in the Beta could be fully upgraded with all the important parts. So the upgrade mechanic felt like little more than a novelty with very little genuine decision-making required.

SimCity - snap-to road grid
One of the best features of the game is the snap-to-grid for building roads that lets you keep your roads nice and parallel, even if they curve!

I was also disappointed that the roads didn't seem to turn out as nice as CitiesXL. SimCity is much pickier about whether or not you could create intersections, and it just isn't as visually interesting or varied as I'd hoped. There is one very nice road-building feature though: when you roll over a particular segment of road, the game creates white guidelines that run parallel and perpendicular to that road, allowing you to easily snap to those paths and build perfect grids - even if they are circular grids!

I do have to admit that the level of simulation seemed pretty impressive, and the gameplay was fun and addicting - at least, until I ran out of room (or time, in the case of the Beta). Individual citizens (sims) could be followed from home to work to stores or parks and back again, and clicking on any sim would bring up a widget telling you what that sim is doing and what factors were currently affecting his or her mood. I didn't have time to play around with some of the deeper aspects of the simulation, like whether or not shops actually have to keep a supply of manufactured goods from your factories or if they just automatically make money. That's the real downside to having a timed Beta: you don't have time to really look that deeply at the mechanics.

So I do still plan on picking the game up (and eventually writing a full review). But for now, the game is a microcosm of everything that is wrong with modern gaming:

  • A mega-publisher pushing a game onto shelves and digital shopping carts before it's ready.
  • Overly-restrictive DRM that hinders legitimate players more than it cuts down on piracy.
  • An over-reliance on online connections and functionality in lieu of great single-player support.
  • Cashing in on an established franchise through a "reboot", sequel, or prequel and offering less than the original game(s) had available.
  • The requirement of proprietary software being installed on your machine (i.e. Origin and all the spyware and adware that comes with it).
  • Micro-transaction DLC (trust me, it's coming).

Representatives of EA and Maxis have already stated that larger city plots should be available in the future, but it is unclear whether they will offered via free updates or if they will be paid DLC (or an "expansion"). My bet is for the latter.

I'm considering holding out until EA removes the online requirement and/or ditches the necessity for Origin. I doubt that either of those will happen any time soon, but EA does do it, I'll buy the game that day! Apparently, the online connection is required in order to allow other cities in the region to be simulated on the server rather than on the local machine. Or so Maxis claims. But if I'm playing single-player in only one city, then what simulation does the game need to do in the region? I'm not buying EA's excuses.

My SimCity itch is pretty strong though, so I probably won't be able to hold out more than a week or two. We'll see.

What's really sad is that underneath all the frustration, red tape, and corporate bullshit, it seems like there could be a really good game in there somewhere. A game that deserves to be played. But one which will never find as big an audience as it could because EA insists on spitting on the consumers.

Other Game Reviews I've Published

Alan WakeAlan WakeAlien: IsolationAlien: Isolation
Amnesia: a Machine for PigsAmnesia: a Machine for PigsAmnesia: the Dark DescentAmnesia: the Dark Descent
Among the SleepAmong the SleepAssassin's Creed IIIAssassin's Creed III
Assassin's Creed IV: Black FlagAssassin's Creed IV: Black FlagBack to the Future Episode OneBack to the Future Episode One
Backbreaker FootballBackbreaker FootballBanishedBanished
Batman: Arkham CityBatman: Arkham CityBattlefield 1Battlefield 1
BloodborneBloodborneBloodborne: the Old HuntersBloodborne: the Old Hunters
CatherineCatherineCities SkylinesCities Skylines
Cities Skylines: After DarkCities Skylines: After DarkCities Skylines: Mass TransitCities Skylines: Mass Transit
Cities Skylines: Natural DisastersCities Skylines: Natural DisastersCities Skylines: SnowfallCities Skylines: Snowfall
Cities: Skylines: Match Day & ver. 1.4Cities: Skylines: Match Day & ver. 1.4CitiesXL & Cities XXLCitiesXL & Cities XXL
Dark SoulsDark SoulsDark Souls Artorias of the Abyss DLCDark Souls Artorias of the Abyss DLC
Dark Souls IIDark Souls IIDark Souls II: Scholar of the First SinDark Souls II: Scholar of the First Sin
Dark Souls IIIDark Souls IIIDark Souls III: Ashes of AriandelDark Souls III: Ashes of Ariandel
Dark Souls III: the Ringed CityDark Souls III: the Ringed CityDead Space 2Dead Space 2
Demon's SoulsDemon's SoulsDmC (Devil May Cry)DmC (Devil May Cry)
DreadOutDreadOutF.T.L. (Faster Than Light)F.T.L. (Faster Than Light)
Fallout 4Fallout 4Fallout ShelterFallout Shelter
Far Cry PrimalFar Cry PrimalFinal Fantasy XIIIFinal Fantasy XIII
Final Fantasy XVFinal Fantasy XVFive Nights at Freddy'sFive Nights at Freddy's
Game of Thrones (Telltale series 1-2)Game of Thrones (Telltale series 1-2)God of War IIIGod of War III
Gone HomeGone HomeGrand Theft Auto VGrand Theft Auto V
Hellblade: Senua's SacrificeHellblade: Senua's SacrificeL.A. NoireL.A. Noire
Lifeless PlanetLifeless PlanetLollipop ChainsawLollipop Chainsaw
Mad MaxMad MaxMadden NFL 11Madden NFL 11
Madden NFL 12Madden NFL 12Madden NFL 13Madden NFL 13
Madden NFL 15Madden NFL 15Madden NFL 16Madden NFL 16
Madden NFL 17Madden NFL 17Madden NFL 18Madden NFL 18
Mars Rover LandingMars Rover LandingMaster of Orion: Conquer the StarsMaster of Orion: Conquer the Stars
Metal Gear Solid V: the Phantom PainMetal Gear Solid V: the Phantom PainMiasmataMiasmata
Middle-Earth: Shadow of MordorMiddle-Earth: Shadow of MordorNCAA Football 11NCAA Football 11
NCAA Football 12NCAA Football 12NCAA Football 13NCAA Football 13
NiohNiohNo Man's SkyNo Man's Sky
Papers, PleasePapers, PleasePortal 2Portal 2
Red Dead RedemptionRed Dead RedemptionResident Evil 7: BiohazardResident Evil 7: Biohazard
Resident Evil RemasteredResident Evil RemasteredRock Band 3Rock Band 3
Room 404Room 404Sid Meier's Civilization VSid Meier's Civilization V
Sid Meier's Civilization V: Brave New WorldSid Meier's Civilization V: Brave New WorldSid Meier's Civilization V: Gods & KingsSid Meier's Civilization V: Gods & Kings
Sid Meier's Civilization VISid Meier's Civilization VISid Meier's Civilization: Beyond EarthSid Meier's Civilization: Beyond Earth
Sid Meier's Civilization: Beyond Earth Rising TideSid Meier's Civilization: Beyond Earth Rising TideSilent Hill 4: the RoomSilent Hill 4: the Room
Silent Hill HD CollectionSilent Hill HD CollectionSilent Hill: Shattered MemoriesSilent Hill: Shattered Memories
Sillent Hill DownpourSillent Hill DownpourSimCity (2013)SimCity (2013)
SimCity BuilditSimCity BuilditSomaSoma
Spider-Man: Edge of TimeSpider-Man: Edge of TimeSpider-Man: Shattered DimensionsSpider-Man: Shattered Dimensions
Star Trek TrexelsStar Trek TrexelsThe Amazing Spider-ManThe Amazing Spider-Man
The Amazing Spider-Man 2The Amazing Spider-Man 2The Elder Scrolls V: SkyrimThe Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim DLCThe Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim DLCThe Evil WithinThe Evil Within
The Evil Within 2The Evil Within 2The Last GuardianThe Last Guardian
The Last of UsThe Last of UsThe SaboteurThe Saboteur
The SwapperThe SwapperThe Witcher 3 expansionsThe Witcher 3 expansions
The Witcher 3: Wild HuntThe Witcher 3: Wild HuntThis War of MineThis War of Mine
This War of Mine: the Little OnesThis War of Mine: the Little OnesTomb Raider (2013)Tomb Raider (2013)
Total War: AttilaTotal War: AttilaTotal War: Rome IITotal War: Rome II
Total War: Shogun 2Total War: Shogun 2Total War: Shogun 2: Fall of the SamuraiTotal War: Shogun 2: Fall of the Samurai
TrineTrineTropico 5Tropico 5
Ultimate General: Civil WarUltimate General: Civil WarUncharted 3: Drake's DeceptionUncharted 3: Drake's Deception
Until DawnUntil Dawn 

Comments (1) -

Justin
Justin
03/12/2013 16:04:17 #

The launch was a pretty big disaster, indeed. Oddly enough, however, I was able to play at 11PM on monday night for about 3 hours before I went to bed, and some the next day before work. After that the servers were nigh impossible to get onto and even when you did they were messed up royally.

As for the actual game (which I have played more of, and read a lot on). I am extremely disappointed...to the point where I would almost side with the British and state this game as "unfit for purpose".

You know all those cool "simulations" in the game? Well, many are no longer there, some are bonkers crazy, and a few simply do not work at all. For instance, recall the video about the industrial factory that created wig glue, and sent it to the wig store so the weirdo next door could buy it? Nope. In fact many people claim that the best way to build a city is with ZERO (unless you want specialty buildings that require some, then just delete after you unlock).

It is unclear if this was ever in at launch, or even in the beta (Maybe you remember for certain MegaBearsFan?), or if they pulled it during the week since, along with a slew of other features. Commercial shops magically get restocked at 6am every day whether there is freight in the REGION or not. Not to mention that once this happens, every pee-brain sim in your city decides to leave their house at the same time to shop...causing bad traffic if you put the stores in driving distance instead of walking.

That brings to mind more bad AI and/or Simulation the game has. Traffic is apparently terrible. People have spend days just trying to figure it out, and many just end up with broken streets due to one of three or four bugs involving vehicles: moving trucks coming in (not really a bug, but when 100 new sims move in at once your streets might be backed up for days), moving trucks getting stuck in your city forever, service vehicles all sharing identical AI...as in if there is 3 fires all fire trucks pick the same fire to put out, region traffic getting stuck and grid locking your whole city down permanently, infinite car spawning buildings that do the above, etc.

Next, I can point out that the economy is horribly balanced in every way. Taxes are simply for show...under no circumstance can you raise them over 10% and get away with it for long. You can lower them, but I have not tested if it helps anything. The advanced crafting buildings are poorly designed. TVs production is half the cost of Processors from what I hear, but you make more than double the income IIRC. Casino's are horribly buggy and hard to work with. Eduction is wonky in that no matter how much you have in a high tech industry town there is often places closing due to lack of educated workers.

Lastly (though there are still a large number of other flaws I don't feel like talking about), there is the ultra sad and annoying realization that the game is fundamentally broken. By that I mean, I tried for hours one night to build a stable city...and well it's not possible. If you click the population, you get a window tab. Click Details and it lists all the numbers in your city by wealth level:

Population: How many jobs, unemployed sims, students, etc.
Commerce: Shoppers, how many didn't get to shop, how much freight is needed (irrelevant), etc.
Industrial: Freight produced and how much needs to be for commerce (irrelevant)

These numbers, after a point, just don't make any kind of sense I can decern. You can't ever supply enough workers in a city, yet stuff seems to run...sometimes...other times they shut down even when people are leaving cuz they have no money (no job I guess). Furthermore, someone stated if you build all the high level tech buildings and civic buildings (like nuke plant, fire, police, medical, TV factory, etc) and cover EVERYTHING else in residential high density you can not supply enough workers...wtf.

Oh. I also forgot to mention how much of the game was gutted, though I alluded to it:

Cheetah Speed cut (game is painfully slow to play on Llama past 30-60 minutes imo)
Region play cut (it seems to be back, for some...but without this the game isn't worth it)
Multiplay linked to above, can't do it
Potential other things, like freight being abstracted and removed from the sim

Anyway. I can't muster the will to play anymore...it's just not fun to play a game about management where you aren't given the ability to understand how to better manage your city since so many rules make no sense, aren't there, are broken, or what have you. I don't doubt maxis can make this game fun...but right now it really isn't. EA is a terrible company and ruins all they touch. I truly how this game suffered financially enough to bring some kind of change to the company, but I highly doubt it.

Welcome to the future of gaming: always-on, rent your games, do what the shareholders say, cuz they know best how to run a company.

Contribute Comment

avatar


We'll incarnate your avatar from the services below.
PlayStation Network Steam Xbox LIVE Facebook MySpace Pinterest Twitter YouTube deviantART LiveJournal



biuquote
  • Comment
  • Preview


Grid Clock Widget
12      60
11      55
10      50
09      45
08      40
07      35
06      30
05      25
04      20
03      15
02      10
01      05
Grid Clock provided by trowaSoft.

A gamer's life...

Welcome to Mega Bears Fan's blog, and thanks for visiting! This blog is mostly dedicated to game reviews, strategies, and analysis of my favorite games. I also talk about my other interests, like football, science and technology, movies, and so on. Feel free to read more about the blog.

Follow me on Twitter at: twitter.com/MegaBearsFan

Featured Post

Another Cities Skylines wishlist: Tourism, Leisure, and the Great OutdoorsAnother Cities Skylines wishlist: Tourism, Leisure, and the Great Outdoors08/05/2017 Some of the suggestions from my first wishlist have actually been implemented in Cities: Skylines. Naming roads, and adding directional traffic overlays were recently added in the Mass Transit expansion, and the previous Snowfall expansion incorporated some of my ideas for seasonal cycles (minus the part where the seasons actually...

Month List

Random Post

War may never change, but Fallout certainly hasWar may never change, but Fallout certainly has01/05/2016 "Pirate Lord Captain Gregle, Slayer of Ancients and World-Renowned Trapeeze Artist" sounds like a pretty legendary character, right? Well, he wasn't. In fact, he was a very lucky, over-achieving halfling rogue in a short-lived campaign of Dungeons & Dragons. I rolled for the character's initial stats, got fairly low constitution,...