Recently, I wrote a Top 5 list that covered The Video Games That Shaped My Childhood, where I chronicled the games that made me the gamer I am today. Somehow, the original Sim City was omitted, perhaps it was because of the short window that my computer worked. Either way, though, playing the original game really was a highlight of my gaming experience. It brought problem solving and planning to a different level in Video Games, and it taught me skills I still use in my daily life. Over the years, the series has hit some very high notes, and some very low ones as well. When this generation of Sim City was announced, I was extremely excited to play the game, and then review it. Did it meet my expectations, and more importantly, how does the issues with the DRM factor in my review? Well, let’s find out.
The objective of Sim City is to build a region of cities that make money, provide a stable and safe place for Sims to live, and to keep your Sims happy with rewarding jobs, exciting places to shop and visit, and a pleasant atmosphere. Instead of building one city, you are provided with a region with a few, up to several, cities to build upon. You can decide between playing online with either friends, or strangers, or in a private game. Each city in your region will have a different set of variables that will make that city succeed in different ways. Some cities will have oil, ore, or coal to make that area’s economy run, while others will have none of the above, but it will have beauty, to make it a tourist’s paradise.
Along the way, you must provide the city with police, fire departments, hospitals, and schools, to provide your Sims with a stable life, while making sure that water, sewage, power, and garbage are being provided while keeping these services away from high class areas. Thanks to the regional aspect of the game, you can now outsource many of these services to other cities, and if you’re cruel, like me, you can create ghettos, where all the power, sewage, and garbage are collected for your region, while creating the most unpleasant area for those poor Sims to live.
I found the gameplay to be enjoyable, along with the sound of the game to be strong as well. The menus were easy to navigate, and transitioning from city to city in the region view to be quick and painless. That brings us, though, to the main problem with the game. I understand that this has been well covered by the press, but I must cover it. From the launch date on Tuesday, until Saturday, the game was unplayable. I did, on Tuesday, get to play for 3 hours, and then when I got home from work, I was able to play for a couple hours again, but after that, nothing. The game has online required DRM, meaning you must be connected to the Internet to play the game at all, including private, singleplayer. When the game was launched, I believe there were only 7 servers available, and this made it impossible to play the game. To make matters worse, the gamesaves were saved on individual servers, meaning that if you saved a game in North America West 1, but that server was unavailable, you could not play your saved game in North America West 2, or any server for that matter. Also, when playing on a new server, you must complete the tutorial, once again, to play in that server. There are workarounds if you look on Google, but the game should be smarter than that. Needless to say, EA added a ton of new servers, but for me, the damage was done. I built a region, with the help of my oldest son, which we have now lost, even though we have searched on every server.
For their part, EA has recently announced that they are trying to repay day 1 customers, like myself, with a free game from their catalog, with the details to follow on the original purchaser’s Origin email address. I still don’t know which games will be offered, hopefully the game will have some value, but that remains to be seen. The real question is: Is the game worth the trouble? The answer, in short, is yes, absolutely. As the game has gotten more stable, my overall enjoyment is very high. I have been using a pretty empty server, Europe East 6, I believe, and have had very little problems since Saturday, so, for now, I would give the game a 92/100, while everything is running smoothly. Hopefully, EA will continue to monitor the game, and fix a few of the smaller issues. This also is the first game that I’ve reviewed for The Nerd Filter that I would recommend paying full retail price.