Sim City 4 gives the player power that extends from the god-like ability to raise mountains to the managerial oversight to adjust the funding of local services. Terraforming, laying out road/utility networks, zoning, and allocating services represent the four main tenants of gameplay. New features include allowing the player to freely terraform, a day/night cycle, and the ability to build region-wide networks. Management of the city’s budget and citizen’s happiness remain important, but are enhanced, with easier access to more complex information when compared to previous entries in the franchise. This 2003 release received an official expansion pack later that year called Sim City 4: Rush Hour, which greatly expanded and improved the transportation aspects of the original title. As the last “traditional” Sim City game and the final Sim City title produced by Maxis, Sim City 4 has been posthumously maintained and expanded by a dedicated fanbase, through third-party modifications and new structures created with the official Building Architect Tool (BAT).
New to the series are regions. Regions are large areas which can contain separate segments of varying sizes to be
developed. The default region is Timbuktu, containing several existing cities which serve as tutorials. Other existing regions include several real-world municipal areas. The segments come in three sizes; small, medium and large. Small is one quarter the size of medium, which is one quarter the size of large. Neighboring cities in the regions play a more important role creating a semi-regional management aspect. Roads, water pipes and power lines can be connected from one segment to another. This allows for a transfer of traffic, power and water between cities.
When players select a segment from the region screen, they are presented with three game modes.
God Mode is the default mode if the player selected an unincorporated segment of land. This mode grants the ability to terraform and modify the land in preparation for city building. Triggering numerous disaster is also available to players in God Mode. Disasters are placed on an area by the player and a few can be directed by the players influence. Some tools available to the player include planting numerous flora and inserting a range of wildlife. Most terraforming tools are disabled after the city is named and incorporated. Some terraforming tools are still available to players afterwards, however they are limited and now cost city funds. Players are still able to cause disasters at their discretion. God Mode also allows players to reconcile borders in order to make them appear smooth in region view. The day/night cycle is also adjusted in God Mode. These two abilities are still available after the city is founded.
The second mode contains the actual construction and management of the city. The player is presented with several options. The primary of these is zoning. Zoning allows the player to designate an area as a residential, commercial or industrial area. However, the player cannot directly build these buildings themselves. The area would be developed on their own. However, the player can directly build city structures and utilities. These are divided into several categories such as; transportation, utilities, education, health and public safety. Most buildings must be placed adjacent to roads in order to function properly. The player must also manage the city's finances and is offered many options. This includes what the tax rate should be, what city ordinances should be in place and how much funding city services receive.
MySim Mode allows players to import their Sims from The Sims into the game or create their own. These Sims would live in the player's city and simulate the daily life of a Sim in the city. This is used to illustrate the effectiveness of the city's transportation network and how the city fares in satisfying the citizens needs. The player is able to see the Sims' thoughts and from that tell how the Sim rates your city.
- OS: Windows XP
- Processor: PIII 500 or equivalent
- Memory: 256MB
- Graphics: 32MB supported Direct3D capable video card with DirectX 7.0 or greater compatible driver
- DirectX®: DirectX 8.1
- Hard Drive: 1.6GB
- Supported 3D Accelerator Hardware: SimCity 4 Deluxe / Rush Hour requires a 32MB 3D Direct3D chipset, and a display that is at least 800x600 in size, and supports 16 or 32-bit color.