Woefully incomplete by design By JFman00

I’m not going to talk about the server problems, or EA’s complete and utter incompetence which has already been deservedly beaten to death. I’m going to talk about what is in the end an incomplete game.

The joy and creativity that used to come with Maxis games is gone. SC4 spawned *years* worth of user-created content on sites like Simtropolis, where you had nearly absolute control over how your cities functioned and what they looked like. Want to build your version of Dubai? Go ahead, there’s a tileset and landmarks and terraforming that can make it so. Want to build your own person Paris, one block at a time? Go ahead.

For about a year and a half me and a team of people worked on an idea of what we hoped would become Simcity 5. Mechanics-wise, we got what we asked for. Upgradeable roads, region-wide actions and trade, city specialization, CURVED ROADS!!! But we lost the soul of the game. No more can users design a building on their own and share it with others. No more can you piece a metropolis together tile by tile. No more can you control your resource facilities besides on or off. No more building a farm town just for the aesthetic of it. No more can you create a functioning city on your own (HazMat fires exist to force you to play with others).

The pathfinding choices of what is otherwise a stunning agent-model simulation are mindboggling. Regions in the release version are incomplete (rail stations aren’t connected to the region because outside your city limits the rail stops at a bridge). Graphics bugs everywhere. Cities are just too small. Half the benefits of connectivity with other cities appear to have been disabled in the name of server stability. Finite resources, while realistic, mean that games will have to end (no desalination plant? really).

My guess? These were conscious choices on the part of EA/Maxis. Correcting these intentional design flaws will cost you money. Things that in the past were addressed by the fan community, on demand and for free, will instead be sold to you. This is no longer a game of “what if?” it’s a game of “what EA let’s you do”.

The question of whether this game is worth buying, if the server issues are ever addressed, is a resounding no. The addiction factor of the old game is still there, and EA will profit heavily from it. But when you run into the limits imposed intentionally on what you can do with the creation you’ve made, you’ll understand that if SC4 was a very expensive set of paintbrushes and paints, SimCity is a very expensive paint-by-numbers, where you’ll have to pay for every single brush and color you want.

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