The city of Ginxville! It’s a thriving, hustling, bustling metropolis! A beautiful place to live, work and study! And best of all, it’s – BEING DESTROYED BY A TORNADO! THAT’S NOT BEST! THAT’S NOT BEST AT ALL!
So it goes in SimCity. It’s the series that makes road-works and sewage spills fun for the whole family; a digital recreation of urban life that takes the pleasures of building miniatures; and looking after a pet, and smooshes them together with the thrill of resource management and disasters. It’s been missing from our lives for a decade now, with most gamers more familiar with SimCity’s suburban spin-off; The Sims.
If the new SimCity has any sort of lesson it’s this: urban development is organic. We might like to think that our streets and services can be planned or designed – but they’re not. They’re only managed. Everything in a city is grown, everything in a city is connected, everything in a city is dependant and like a screaming child; it demands attention. As you play SimCity, you quickly realise the headache of local governing. There are so many pressures and limitations to consider, and always finite resources of space, fuel and time. The seeds for all this growth in SimCity are the three zones you can designate; residential, commercial and industrial. Unlike other strategy games, you don’t place down each little structure in your community; they just spring up on their own, and like tending a tree, you’ll need to cut these back sometimes, remove the dead leaves or cluttered branches to promote healthy new growth.
The central premise of SimCity has always been a grand ambition, taking a system which depends on thousands of people working together in real life and putting it in the hands of just one. To achieve this all with more clarity than before, the developers at Maxis have turned to their Sims series for inspiration. The resulting new approach is clean and simple, often relying on bold, graphic representations of the game’s complex numbers and ideas. While it’s still an overwhelming amount to take in all at once, you’ll appreciate the variety of streamlined statistical views you can bring up in real time, tracking everything from your city’s happiness to its power supply.