SimCity preview

SimCity's E3 demo showed off a number of new features--big and small, including a look at the game's interesting online mode.

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QUICKTAKE: EA and Maxis revive the long dormant SimCity franchise and debut the new GlassBox engine. In addition to sprinkling in new features, the new SimCity allows friends to build neighboring cities. Friends can collaborate to make their cities better--or make their world worse.

THE DEMO: Public demo attendees watched as one of the EA reps constructed various parts of his city from scratch. Three other EA reps were building their cities simultaneously, leading to a collaboration on an international airport. New features included Sims (complete with Sim voices), day/night cycles, and the long-awaited addition of curvy roads.

DETAILS: Many of the city simulation mechanics from previous games return with a modern coat of paint. Building residential neighborhoods is still a big part of the game, but players can now watch as moving vans and Sims migrate towards their town. As the city grows, Sims will live out their daily routines in full. Each Sim will have their own home, personal favorite shop, and place to work.

After building a residential and commercial neighborhood, it was time to build an industrial zone. The EA rep built the industrial district away from residential areas, where pollution effects would be minimal. Factories can be built to attract workers and can also be switched to serve different functions in order to to suit the city’s needs.

SimCity offers up a large world to play with, to help accommodate the game's new multiplayer feature. Friends that are building their own metropolises can interact with one another. For example, one friend can build power lines to a neighboring city to help supply them with power. Friends can also contribute all of their workers towards a common. In this case, all of the EA reps banded together to build an international airport. Each player donated workers to the project, which would in turn benefit all of them by bringing in new tourists.

Crime can be a concern in the new SimCity, which the EA rep demonstrated by building his town with little police presence. The GlassBox engine shined in this case, with graffiti and broken windows starting to litter the city. The demonstration peaked with a real-time bank robbery. Hooligans held up the bank with little trouble and made a clean getaway. The EA rep noted that these events can still happen with police in the area, but the odds of the police foiling the crime increase.

SimCity looks to be an enjoyable addition to the franchise, thanks to its updated visuals, multiplayer features, and subtle tweaks, like curved roads (something the EA rep noted was a long-requested feature). SimCity will arrive on PC in February 2013.

Senior Editor

Ozzie has been playing video games since picking up his first NES controller at age 5. He has been into games ever since, only briefly stepping away during his college years. But he was pulled back in after spending years in QA circles for both THQ and Activision, mostly spending time helping to push forward the Guitar Hero series at its peak. Ozzie has become a big fan of platformers, puzzle games, shooters, and RPGs, just to name a few genres, but he’s also a huge sucker for anything with a good, compelling narrative behind it. Because what are video games if you can't enjoy a good story with a fresh Cherry Coke?

From The Chatty
  • reply
    June 8, 2012 3:30 PM

    Ozzie Mejia posted a new article, SimCity preview.

    SimCity's E3 demo showed off a number of new features--big and small, including a look at the game's interesting online mode.

    • reply
      June 8, 2012 4:15 PM

      Hopefully it won't be a resource hog - even larger SimCity 4 cities can tax my computer even now!

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      June 9, 2012 4:39 AM

      Yeah I'm really curious what the recommended specs will be for this game. Looks amazing and I can't wait for it to release, but with that new fancy engine I just hope my PC can play it. Might have to break out Sim City 4 though in the meantime...

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      June 10, 2012 12:49 PM

      So like is this gonna be multiplayer only or what? Can I still just idle away the time building my OWN perfect little megalopolis?

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        June 11, 2012 12:52 AM

        Yup, unfortunately Blizzard has made popular the idea of making even single player modes permanently online (not just a DRM check but a full blown server run game). I'm sure EA will give you the option to keep your city separate from others to be effectively single player, but just like Diablo III you'll be forced to be online no matter what.

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      June 10, 2012 10:27 PM

      I'll get it if it becomes a non Origin exclusive, and adds offline single player.

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        June 11, 2012 1:00 AM

        Hahaha good luck with that offline single player after the mega success of Diablo III. The modern PC gaming generation doesn't care about intrusive DRM anymore, plain and simple......you're fighting a battle that doesn't even exist anymore in EA's eyes. The publishers inched their way to their ultimate goal which started with Ubisoft's always-online DRM check and finalized with Blizzard's full blown server run single player games such as SC2 and DIII. We can expect BS like this to be pretty much standard in AAA PC games from now on.

        Chances are it will force you to have Origin too. At least it's better than Steam (let's be real Steam whiteknights, it IS better than Steam for the simple fact that it doesn't need to be running to play single player games, and offline mode actually works) but it's still a PITA to have yet another download manager being shoved down our throats.

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        June 11, 2012 2:35 PM

        won't happen.

        majority of major titles being offline available are a thing of the past now.