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Overview

SimCity puts you in charge of your own suburban sprawl

SimCity is the fifth and latest installment in the long running and much loved SimCity franchise. Like its predecessors, the game puts you in control of planning, building, and maintaining a simulated city. As the mayor of your virtual city, you're given data about pollution, public happiness, crime rates, water levels, etc., to help you make choices about how to build and run your city. Your responsibilities include things like laying roads, setting zoning, controlling the power and water supply, managing public services like education and health, setting taxes, managing sewerage and waste, trading supplies with neighbouring cities, and more.

The game is being developed for PC and Mac by Maxis Software and will be published by EA. It is expected for release in the US on March 5th, 2013 for Windows PC and later for Mac.

Gameplay

After a lengthy 10 year hiatus since SimCity 4, the last major installment in the franchise, developer Maxis has taken its time to create a very complete SimCity experience. As the name implies (simply "SimCity"), this game is something of a reboot for the series; while it doesn't necessarily reinvent the game entirely, many of the systems are certainly re-imagined and streamlined.

An example of zoning from SimCity 3000

One major change is to zoning. In previous games in the series, the player could only lay down squares of residential, commercial, and industrial zones in low, medium, and high density varieties. In SimCity, the player assigns residential, commercial, or industrial zones along roads rather than in a grid. Zones will gradually become more dense over time as demand rises. Whereas zoning in previous games would require spending simoleons, zoning is free in SimCity.

Maxis has also streamlined how resources, such as power, water, and sewage, are propagated through your city. Gone are the days of laying underground pipes and power lines; instead, resources in SimCity flow through roads. Because roads now carry all the resources in the city, road design is even more important, and as such, roads are also more costly

GlassBox Engine

SimCity retains the scope of previous games, but scales back some aspects of the game and expands others. For example, cities are scaled back in geographic size and are not as large as in previous games. The reasons for doing this stem from the game's GlassBox engine, which is said to visually represent every element that makes up your city. As an example, each citizen (also called a "Sim") in your city will be seen performing daily tasks, such as walking around, going to work, driving to school, and heading home. The GlassBox engine even allows you to view the individual wants and desires of each Sim in your city. Because of the amount of data that is visually represented within the game, the size of any one city had to be made smaller so that the game could be made available to the largest range of computers.

One of its primary additions to the franchise is the notion of "Social Flow," or the ability of your city to impact other cities surrounding it in what's called a region. Each region can have up to 16 cities within it. Players can choose to control each city plot within their region, or to open plots up to allow friends or any other SimCity players to be able to build in the region. This can lead to both positive and negative effects. For example, a player can create an entirely industrial city that provides jobs for people living in another nearby city, but pollution from the industrial city may also make its way to that same residential neighborhood. The game also allows the sharing of resources between cities, letting players sell everything from electricity to coal to garbage to other cities within a region. Each region has one region-wide project that multiple cities can contribute money and resources to completing. Cities can also be abandoned, opening them up to other players.

Similar to the editor in Spore, individual buildings can be upgraded and modified in a modular manner. For example, instead of buying two coal plants and placing them next to each other, the player can add extra smokestacks to an existing plant, increasing its capacity. This even applies to utilities such as police and fire stations, which can be made more effective through upgrades.

All cities and regions within SimCity are saved on EA's central servers, requiring an Internet connection and authentication through the Origin client before a person can play the game. While also serving as DRM, this system allows players to interact with not only other cities in real time, but a larger global market for buying and selling resources. The game can be run in sandbox mode to allow players more freedom to create whatever they want, but they cannot interact with other cities and the global economy in sandbox mode.

Editions

A Digital Deluxe Edition is available only through Origin, which comes with extra missions, achievements, and the British, French, and German City Sets. These buildings will affect how Sims act around their neighborhood, adopting customs and other intricacies native to that culture.

A Limited Edition of the game will be given to everyone who pre-orders, adding the Heroes & Villains pack to the game.

Customers can purchase the Deluxe Upgrade Pack from Origin for $19.99 which contains the British, French, and German City Sets from Digital Deluxe.

DLC

Electronic Arts will be offering DLC from the day Simcity SimCity is available. Pricing has not been revealed, although promotional material has indicated that the Heroes and Villains Set has a $6.99 value.

The Digital Deluxe edition is available exclusively from Origin, and comes with the following DLC:

  • British City Set - Big Ben landmark, Great Britain themed tile set, and large bus stations and double-decker buses.
  • French City Set - Eiffel Tower landmark, French themed tile set, and large french police stations.
  • German City Set - Brandenburg Gate, Germany themed tile set, and high speed rail stations and vehicles.

Closed Beta

Roads are much more flexible in SimCity.

SimCity accepted beta applications beginning in August 2012 and ending before first closed beta ran on the weekend of January 26-27, 2013. A second closed beta ran for 24 hours on February 16. The closed betas were limited to one hour play sessions, and cities could not be saved. A third closed beta was held on Febuary 27, 2013. This beta session was only open for four hours, but let players use all the tools in the game with no time or building restrictions.

Access to the beta can be granted by pre-ordering the game via EA's Origin game store.

System Requirements

PC minimum system requirements

  • OS: Windows XP / Windows Vista / Windows 7
  • Processor: Intel 2.0GHz Core 2 Duo / AMD Athlon 64 X2 Dual-Core 4000+
  • Memory: 2GB
  • Graphics: 512MB video card with nVidia 7800, Radeon HD 2x00, or Intel Series 4
  • Hard Drive: 10GB

PC recommended specifications

  • Processor: Intel Core i5 or better
  • OS: Windows 7
  • RAM: 4GB or higher
  • Graphics: nVidia GTX 275 or better, or ATI 5850 or Better

Mac minimum system requirements

  • OS: Mac OS X 10.6.4
  • Processor: Intel 2.0GHz Core 2 Duo
  • Memory: 2GB
  • Graphics: Intel HD3000 or nVidia 9400M
  • Hard Drive: 10GB