Review by i_like_evil
"Flawed, but a great package nonetheless."
In a Nutshell: SimCity DS is a nice little package with some notable faults but original ideas that is well suited to the Nintendo DS.
Now to begin my in-depth review of SimCity DS.
First of all, I should mention that SimCity DS is heavily focused on the gameplay aspects of the game, building a prosperous city that functions well and financially succeeds. Those who are used to playing SimCity 4 mainly to build nice looking towns and cities will probably be disappointed here.
When you first start the game you have to select an advisor (in the form of a very basic questionnaire). Fortunately you can be approached by advisors during the game who offer their services to you and offer to replace your current advisor (unsurprisingly much to their chagrin), in fact 2 advisors can only be selected in this way. Then you are presented with a nicely designed menu with several options. This is where the game begins.
Graphically the game is pretty much exactly the same as SimCity 3000. There are less building models than SC3k though, so cities can look rather repetitive at times but the taller structures seem to be a lot more varied. The characters (such as the Advisors) are wonderfully designed and the backgrounds (such as the Mayor's office) are also visually pleasing. Still, the DS [B]can[/B] do better, it's good but it's not used to it's full potential.
Unfortunately there are only 2 levels of zoom, this isn't a bad thing as they are both good levels of zoom but it would have been really nice to zoom in and out just a little bit more. The interface is well designed and easy to use. Occasionally the game surprisingly suffers from some brief slowdown and for some reason the news ticker is set to go at a snails pace (fortunately you don't really need to pay much attention to it in this game).
The music is the same as SimCity 3000 (with some changes and additions though) but that being said, it is rather pleasant. Unfortunately only a particular song will only play in certain modes/sections ect. which means it can get a little repetitive in the main Build A City mode, it could have been a lot more varied.
The sound effects are nothing to scream about, but they are decent and suit the game. The text SFX can get a little annoying after a while though.
You have a few modes to choose from. Build A City starts off slow, but expanding your city can become really addictive and fun at times and the more it matures the more interesting it gets. Unlocking new rewards is always fun and there are even some little minigames tucked in there as well. The interface is easy to use and makes building cities much easier and quicker; the inclusion of an undo button is incredibly useful feature in case you make a mistake, change your mind or just want to try something out for size. There are plenty of rewards and landmarks to unlock. It's a bit slow as you start off in 1900 and many facilities have not been invented until you reach a certain period in time, but there's enough to keep you focused.
There are a few disasters and all of them can only happen randomly. Fortunately dealing with them is a bit more interesting this time as you must actively avert the disasters, such as blowing into the microphone to put out fires and touching the screen to fire missiles at a giant ape that is ravaging the city.
Unfortunately you cannot alter the level of terrain. In fact all that you can do in terms of the terrain is choose whether you want water or grass, using the appropriate tools of course. Sadly, you can only save a single city, but fortunately there is a lot to accomplish in a city and it keeps you focused on building a big metropolis.
Save the City mode is a big disappointment, it's nowhere near as fun as the scenarioas in SC3k as you are basically helping a city recently struck by disaster reach a specific target. It's boring actually, and unfortunately you can't save during this mode which means you must have the patience to accomplish all of the long term goals in one go.
One thing I should point out is that SimCity DS is hard. Very hard. Not really in terms of money (the hardest setting really isn't very tough) but in terms of building a city that grows. I have no doubt that even experienced SimCity players will have a few bad cities when they first play the game. Thankfully there is a 15-Step tutorial on how to build a city and the best way to build is using the tried and tested SimCity formula. Start off small. It's not as hard a SimCity 4 when it comes to growing a city, but it can still be a (welcome) challenge at times.
It's SimCity, so what do you expect? That being said, SCDS does bring some original and innovative ideas to the table. The interface is great and the new single advisor somehow works well too. Dealing with disasters is now more interesting in the form of little minigames and other minigames such as a celebratory fireworks show is a nice touch as well.
Easily the best bit of the game. Using the stylus is great and although a little tricky at first, it gets easier with time. Touching the screen to place buildings and roads is a lot more fluid and moving around the map is much more rapid and easier than before. Checking the many data sheets and records is also a lot easier to navigate thanks to the touch screen control.
- Scores -
Fun Factor: 7
OVERALL SCORE: 7
Reviewer's Rating: 3.5 - Good
Originally Posted: 07/09/07
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