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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 it's predecessors, the game puts you in control of planning, building and maintaining a simulated city. As the 'major' 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; and 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

The most obvious of these changes is the way that roads and zoning work in the game. Previously, the series would have you laying down squares of residential, commercial and industrial zones in low, medium and high density varieties. This system has changed, and now instead of a grid, zoning is simply done along roads and the density system has been removed entirely, with zones gradually becoming more dense with time as depend increases. Zoning is also free now, where in the past it would cost simoleons. The way roads work has also been simplified. Gone are the days of laying underground pipes and power lines, instead water and electricity flow through your roads. Roads now carry all the resources in the city so they are of even higher importance than before, and as such they also carry a higher cost.

GlassBox Engine

SimCity takes the scope of previous games and both scales it back and expands upon it at the same time. Individual cities are scaled back in that they can't be nearly 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 Sim within your city will be visible walking around, going to work, driving to school, heading home, etc. This 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, with the player being able to dictate if (s)he controls each city plot themselves, opens it up to a friends or allows anyone on the internet 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 it's 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 to attempt to resurrect.

Similar to the editing in Spore, individual buildings can be upgraded and modified in a modular manner. If you build say a coal power plant, rather than just placing two plants next to each other you can instead add extra smokestacks to an existing plant, increasing it's capacity. This even applied to utilities such as police and fire stations, which can be made more effective through upgrades.

All cities and regions within SimCities are saved on EA's central servers, requiring an Internet connection and authentication through the Origin client before a person can play the game.This not only servers as a DRM scheme, but also 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 it will limit them from interacting with other cities and the global economy.

Special Edition

A Digital Deluxe Edition is available only through Origin, which will include the ability to create European inspired buildings and landmarks. 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.

DLC

It is widely rumored, from instructional manuals provided with the beta, that Electronic Arts will be offering DLC after the game launches. Any information about what type of DLC will be made available is still speculation.

Closed Beta

Road can go anywhere you like.

SimCity accepted beta applications from August 2012 up until when the first closed beta ran on the weekend of January 26-27, 2013. A second closed beta ran from February 16, for 24-hours. The closed betas were limited to one hour play sessions, and cities could not be saved.

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