Friday, December 12, 2008

Sim City Games Review

Publisher: Electronic Arts
Developer: Titled Mills
Release Date: November 12, 2007
ESRB Rating: E for Everyone (10+)
Genre: City Building Sim

The Bottom Line: Easy to learn? Check. Beautiful cities? Check? Fun to play? Check. Packed with hours of highly addictive gameplay? Perhaps. It doesn't provide the in-depth city management gameplay long-time "SimCity" gamers have grown to love.


  • Range of building types
  • beautiful, detailed 3D world
  • Multiple game modes, including unlimited money


  • Shallow gameplay
  • Buggy, many random crashes
  • Not challenging
  • Limited zoom out
  • Few transportation methods

"SimCity Societies" Features

  • Build cities based on culture, behaviors, and societal values.
  • Small town, industrial, capitalist, romantic, fun, contemplative, authoritarian, and cyberpunk are the types of cities you can build.
  • 350 building types.
  • Architectural styles range from fun to modern.
  • Industry, prosperity, authoritarian, knowledge, spirituality, or creativity are the societal values buildings produce or require to run.
  • Environment friendly power sources, such as wind, natural gas, hydrogen, and solar power.
  • Earn trophies and medals for attaining certain population levels and societal values.
  • Build venues to give Sims a place to relax and enjoy themselves.

"SimCity Societies" Review

Bird's Eye View - "SimCity Societies"
Screenshot © Electronic Arts.
I started playing "SimCity Societies" knowing full well that it was not going to be the "SimCity 5" I had been wanting. This time around the latest "SimCity" game was taking a different approach to city building. Instead of a city management game, it would be a straight forward city builder, complete with hundreds of buildings to plop down.

"SimCity Societies" doesn't have use 3 zones to develop. We have to decide the type of buildings to put down. Do we need another burger joint? Or maybe a cotton candy stand would be better? These are things you may ponder. You won't be concerned with services funding, tax rates, roads, or transportation congestion. It's a sandbox to make any type of city you want.

All the buildings are placed by you. Each building either adds or lowers the societal value (prosperity and knowledge, for example). A school or college add knowledge value, while a research building may need knowledge to run. This value system keeps a city balanced. To use knowledge, the city needs to produce knowledge.

Filters for the society values and type of city (romantic, creative, etc) make it easy to build the city you have pictured. "SimCity Societies" comes with over 400 buildings. What kind of buildings you ask? Well there's balloon vans, dorms, stadiums, colleges, factories, bars, and ferris wheels - just to name a few. While there is a good number of buildings, I don't doubt we will tire of the selection. Part of me likes placing the buildings right where I want them. The other part misses the surprise of watching which buildings show up and see how the change based on my management.

The gameplay of "SimCity Societies" can be boiled down to this: build homes, build enough workplaces to employ all Sims, and build venues (stadiums, movie theaters, opera, bars, etc) to keep Sims happy. Do this while monitoring the social values and you won't have any problems. Money is earned through businesses. Happy sims means more money for you. It doesn't take long to establish a regular flow of cash. There are no real transportation concerns, money problems (keep Sims happy and the money flow never stops), or even having to make sure there is good school coverage are issues.

The challenge of "SimCity Societies" has to come from you. You need to challenge yourself to build a specific city style with only certain social values. Maybe a romantic city focused on creativity. There are achievement ribbons and trophies earned based on population and total city social values. A nice idea, just doesn't take long to earn them all. I had almost all of them after a day of playing.

Sunset - "SimCity Socities"
Screenshot © Electronic Arts.
EA and Titled Mills told us from the beginning "SimCity Societies" took the series in a new direction. One that was easier for beginners. They did succeed in that. It is an easy game to learn and play. "SimCity Societies" is for the gamers who are looking for a creative sandbox to build that city they have planned out. For those who loved downloading the ploppable buildings for "SimCity 4" and picking exactly what type of building goes where.

"SimCity Societies" does what it set out to do - to be an introduction to city building and give gamers tools to build their dream city. Gamers wanting a city management game won't be happy and should skip "SimCity Societies."