SimCity Societies review

SimCity Societies (SCS) is a city simulation game by Electronic Arts. I did a search, and the general feeling from gamers and reviewers was this: It sucked.

That said, I went against all popular public opinion and bought the game anyway. And it’s fun!

There were basically 3 points the fans of the SimCity series didn’t like. The 1st one is that the societal values don’t make sense for some of the buildings. For those of you who don’t play the series, it involves

  • laying out roads
  • laying out electric lines and water pipes
  • zoning residential, commercial and industrial areas
  • building homes, cash-cow skyscrapers and factories

Basically you’re playing mayor.

SCS threw most of that out. There are now 6 societal values: productivity, prosperity, creativity, spirituality, authority and knowledge. Buildings now contribute and consume one or more of those values. And some don’t make sense.

For example, one of the “home” buildings consume (take away) prosperity points. It looks moderately modern. It allows moderate freedom (not sky-rise, not cramped). Yet it makes your city “less prosperous”. I don’t quite understand it either, but it’s a game, and it’s not a big deal to me.

The 2nd point invited more clamour; there’s no laying electric lines from power stations and water pipes. Power stations can be placed as far as needed and the city continues to function. There’s actually no water pipes. Buildings simply have water!

Frankly speaking, I hated laying out electric lines and water pipes. It was the least fun activity when I did play in the past (can’t remember which incarnation of the series). The lines and pipes don’t have to run along roads, though it seemed logical to do so. When buildings go down, I’ve got to remember to repair lines and pipes. If I don’t, then the new building won’t have power and water. A building must be connected to a line and pipe, or it’ll fail its intended function.

The 3rd point was no zoning for areas. You simply plop down buildings. If an area has a high density of homes, then you can think of it as residential areas.

I think fans of the (older) SimCity series just need to rethink how they play this version. I like this new way. Cities don’t have this clear a demarcation between residential and commercial areas anymore.

I’ll be honest. I like this game because it allows me to build any city I can imagine. Free of electric lines and water pipes, I can just lay out roads and plop down buildings to my heart’s content. Aesthetics matter more than function.

I still like making sure of efficiency, balancing expenses and profits, and other micromanagement stuff. It’s just that, I’m taking a break from programming, I’ve done enough thinking!

If I want micromanagement, I’ll go play The Sims 2. Managing a virtual life’s activities is more fun than juggling numbers.