Review by Hypocritical117

"No thought really necessary"

Introduction

SimCity Societies is a "new" game developed by EA but not in conjunction with Maxis. While there are some significant differences, the basics of city building are still kind of there. You're still playing mayor, but with a lot less to worry about.

GamePlay [5/10]

The main premise of this game, as well as the other SimCity games is to build a successful city while balancing the budget, infrastructure and your citizen's moods. However, there are no longer zones, but rather individual buildings. There isn't a need to build power lines or water mains, or even subway tunnels. There isn't even a need for garbage, but you have the option of building. I managed to build a thriving city without a single waste management facility and everyone was happy.

The "twist" is that each building requires a specific energy in order to operate. In addition to work, your citizens need venues to go to blow off steam after a hard day at work. Certain buildings/venues create special citizens that create different changes in your city.

While this may seem like a welcome addition to the classic SimCity, there is a significant loss in gameplay as well. There is no longer ANY form of budget management. Roads no longer need to be fixed, police and fire stations no longer require funding (they actually generate money), and no taxes to manage. Your citizen's happiness is based mainly on whether they have a home to live and whether there is anything fun to do.

Without the need for balancing a budget, it seems that there is no way to actually lose money in the game. Jobs that you create generate money, while venues that they visit don't require any funding. However, certain venues have special functions involved, where you can spend money to create a special action.

Another aspect is that buildings do not need to be close to each other for their energies to work. You can build a power station on the far corner of the map and start your city on the opposite corner and still be able to power up your city while avoiding the pollution/money problems that power used to have.

Control [10/10]

I'm giving it a high score based purely on the simplicity. Everything is pretty much a mouse click away and self explanatory. The loading tips tell you almost everything you need to know.

Graphics [5/10]

The graphics are pretty standard looking, and they're not really intricately detailed, but when you're building your city and you're heading towards one theme, the streets change to reflect the theme. If you're industrialized, there's more garbage on the streets (doesn't matter how many waste management buildings you establish, they'll stay there) or there's rose hued streets lined with flower beds if you're going the creative/prosperity route. Other than the streets, the buildings all look and feel the same.

Sound [2/10]

Like the streets, the theme music changes when you go from one city style to another. However, if you're aiming for one city theme at a time, there isn't any difference, and the music gets pretty repetitive. Buildings generate different sounds when clicked on, and when you're around a certain buildings, they generate background noises. Sim babble helps to make it more Sim like, but if you're like me, you'll play with the sound off.

Replay Value [7/10]

It's a love-hate game. If you liked Sims, there's a high chance you'll enjoy this game. It's simple and very straight forward. However, if you're a classic SimCity player, then this game will probably have you cursing at the screen.

There are unlockable bonuses, but they're pretty easily achieved if you don't mind dotting the landscape with useless decorations and venues.

Conclusion

It's not a bad game, just not what I was hoping for. My biggest complaint is that there isn't any form of budget management. You're guaranteed to make money, and you can't spend it fast enough. Your venues might have no customers, but as long as you've provided them with something, they should remain happy.

If you really want to play it, I'd suggest waiting a little while and then checking out the bargain bin.


Reviewer's Score: 4/10 | Originally Posted: 11/21/07

Game Release: SimCity Societies (US, 11/15/07)


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