An MMO’s launch is rarely a smooth endeavor. Yes, I’m calling SimCity an MMO because that’s what it is: It’s a game designed to be played with vast amounts of people online. I’m not here to argue whether or not this was a good choice, though. Instead, I’m here to see how things are shaping up one month after its launch. Here are my answers to a few of the questions on people’s minds right now.
How are the servers handling?
Quite well. In fact, in my experience, they’ve been doing just fine after the first week. I feel like part of the problem was that people were growing too attached to their regions, hesitant to move to a new server and abandon all of their work. Now, some people were criticizing EA and Maxis for not having regions transfer between servers. I find this complaint downright ludicrous. Your characters in World of Warcraft don’t transfer automatically between servers, so why should your regions?
But getting into the game wasn’t the only problem; the servers had plenty of other issues. To a certain extent, these are continually being worked on and remedies are slowly but surely appearing. Cheetah mode is now on the test server with its return seemingly imminent. I’m now able to hop between cities in my regions with ease. I do, however, occasionally run into a problem where it says my cities have no population at the region selection screen, but thankfully this isn’t the actual case.
For the record, I’ve never even encountered losing my progress, so I can’t attest to whether or not that has been fixed.
Is traffic still awful?
That depends. Are you putting a lot of very important buildings on a tiny road? Then yes, traffic is still awful and you’re a terrible city planner. Now, are sims ignoring better routes? Nope, that’s been fixed.
I’d be lying if I said that I hadn’t fallen victim to poor city planning, and my Sims routinely ask for busses, but I’d like to think that it’s because they’re too lazy to drive. In my past few days of playtime, I’ve rarely seen avoidable traffic jams. In addition, trade trucks and safety vehicles are increasingly getting the right of way.
There’s something else I’d like to add: When you build new residential areas or they get upgraded, people move in there. You know what that means? A lot of moving trucks. They create traffic because everyone’s moving in at once. Don’t panic if your roads are red for a few minutes after your little motor home becomes a giant apartment building. Let people move in, let the trucks head out, and things will go back to normal.
Are electronics still broken?
Oh dear, yes they are. While Maxis continues to work on fixing essential features, this is getting put on the backburner. It’s a good move, as it’d be nice to get more stability and cheetah speed back to the game. However, doing the electronic trading route is a way to get millions of simoleans in an extremely quick manner. It’s still broken and will probably remain that way until the game is stabilized first.
Is the community still raging?
To a certain extent, yes. Paradox Interactive just released Cities in Motion 2, a game that focuses on working on a city’s transportation systems, and people are jumping all over it like it’s the best thing since sliced bread. The Tropico 4 love has seemingly died down in SimCity’s subreddit, but the SimCity 4 appreciation has not. Nor should it; SimCity and SimCity 4 are two entirely different games.
Allow me to step on a soapbox for a second.
I feel like a lot of people expected the next big thing from Maxis, meaning a direct sequel to SimCity 4. That’s not what we got, but that’s not why we should be upset about the game. Is it perfect? No, but I’m having a lot of fun playing the thing. A lot of people are complaining that their trade trucks are having issues travelling through their urban sprawl, yet my trucks in small town USA are doing just fine. Is the game’s A.I. perfect? No. Is it Maxis’ fault that they can’t make a left turn through a median? Also no.
Are my citizens asking for things they don’t need?
They are, but I’m ignoring them.
Also, here’s some food for thought: How are the high rent protestors in front of my city hall any different from the people who complain about it here in America? No city has a 100% happiness rate; this isn’t SimUtopia.
And even utopias don’t end well. Rapture and Columbia are wonderful examples of that.
Were we lied to?
I love SimCity, but this isn’t the game we were promised back at E3. Does each sim have their own life? They do, but once the day resets, it’s an entirely new life. They go to a different job, a different house, and different shops. They occupy the closest available space, routinely fighting over their neighbors for the first empty job or house available.
The game also could have been allowed to run offline. I’m not just talking about cities; I mean regions, too. I wasn’t initially upset with the always-online requirement for the game’s region perks, but once I found out that you could do all of that offline, I became quite frustrated. I recently had a nine-hour layover in Newark Airport. It would have been nice to boot up some SimCity on my laptop. But nope, an Internet connection is required for silly reasons.
Am I still playing?
I’ll be quite honest: When I moved on from SimCity to review other games, I missed playing it. It’s an enjoyable, charming title with its fair share of issues. But I still had fun, and I can’t imagine I’m the only person in the world who enjoys playing this game.
Do I regret giving SimCity a 4/5?
No, no, and no. Friends have often asked me whether or not they should purchase the game. I always tell them the following:
It’s nothing like SimCity 4, but instead its own entity. An MMO SimCity, if you will, that requires you to specialize your smaller cities into various purposes. You can’t build a “do-everything” town, but instead you connect your education city with your mining city, so on and so forth. Is it perfect? No, but I’ve enjoyed it.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I must return to the people of the Hidden Valley Ranch region.
Date: April 5, 2013