“Here we are now, entertain us!”
This phrase seems to be the theme your tiny little Sims could be shouting as you experience immense content in the latest, leisurely paced Sim City title. The buildings/decorative objects provide plenty of appeal while less demanding logistics decreases the micro management. Some differences between this Sim variation and the previous series are like night and day. Gone are zoning, budgets, ordinances and advisors. Your ability to keep Sims happy, mostly through venues where they can buy items, provides the lifeblood in this game. The direct source of funds comes from workplaces, then you have houses and power plants (no underground pipes/direct connections needed here. Plus, they generate funds as well). The format allows sorting of all your places (style, type, etc.) keeping the Sim City organizational strengths strong.
It’s pretty easy to keep Sims happy: provide power, keep crime low, etc. Some of the logic behind these achievements might confuse some gamers (and create some interesting debates, especially in the spirituality department), but overall, the system works. Maybe a possible future installment would allow players to tweak specific building functions. The “free-for-all” mode helps bring a wider appeal to this game – giving players unlimited funds and more enjoyment than hang-ups.
Object combinations and social categories help you build the ideal environment that has a positive or negative effect on a particular social energy. There are six energies, ranging from creativity to spirituality. Get enough of these energies in one environment and you can create a theme Sim City (an optional action). Themes are self explanatory and include authoritarian, cyberpunk, contemplative, fun city and small town. A well balanced dissemination of these energies make the game much more interesting, while increasing the micro management/complexity of your environment. Sims, complete with the usual, eclectic language sounds, are also very influenced by the traits of a given building (some amusing names there too).
Graphics stand solid and include objects with shadows, plus you can get a really detailed look at activities, people and objects with some nice zoom features. Helpful icons explain building functions and how they can help you improve your city. You can also turn buildings at 45-degree angles and create their own maps. There are plenty of template maps which include basic modes of transportation (extremely important to maximize your Sims’ seemingly endless desire to acquire items/experiences).
The terrain effects building situation, but players don’t have any tools to effect the terrain (bulldozers, etc.), which might a necessary blockade to help save memory…speaking of that, be sure your computer can handle the memory if your Sim City grows to a large size. Regarding installation, it took a while to get past some installation bugs. Charging for technical support didn’t help the experience feel better either, but eventually my computer assimilated the game OK.
This game is involving, but may not be challenging enough for die hard fans. Game makers add unlockable rewards to help offset this potential issue, which does provide significant entertainment and satisfaction. Not too many unexpected events in this game (especially when you determine certain options) – a key “God” game element. An expanded exercise in social management plus the usual civil strategies, even educational value. Consumption rules over production here while players are psychologically damaged with societal woes, which can lead to frustration and overall bad feelings. Players can often receive great benefits with minimal (and even illogical) placements and trial-and-error combinations. Any way you put it, the system works for you as long as you pay attention a little bit, so you’ll enjoy yourself a lot. It’s feel good time and this game title feels pretty good.
SimCity Societies is rated E10+ (Everyone 10 and older) by the ESRB for Alcohol and Tobacco Reference, Crude Humor and Mild Violence.