Review by Cutefangs

"An incomplete rush to deadline? A stain on an otherwise awesome franchise"

I picked up this game really excited to have Sim City in the palm of my hands. An alleged remake of the greatest game in the series, Sim City 3000, no less. I was sorely disappointed.

Sim City DS presents itself as a cute little package that looks like it'll be a versatile little game that will keep you entertained for hours. Anyone who has played 3000 (or even 2000, heck, even the original) should be expecting a strategic city building simulator with loads of replay value and a different experience every time you play. As soon as you start the game for the first time, you're grilled with personality questions to choose the best advisor for establishing your metropolis. This is their first ploy into making you think this game is deep.

After selecting your advisor, you're presented with an overview map of different terrains with an associated level of difficulty. I use the word “terrain” loosely.. you are really just selecting where you want your water, if you indeed want water. There are no elevated areas; the landscape is completely flat. There are no trees, no wilderness to knock down before you build. Just flat open green land. As with other Sim City games, “difficulty” is really just an indication of the amount of money you start off with. Disappointment is foreshadowed in the fact that you are limited to 7 characters for a city name.

You think to yourself at this point “Wow, it'd be neat if I can trade and make deals with other cities that border my own.” That would be neat! But you can't, sorry. Sim City DS gives you one save game to play around with. If you'd like to start a new city, you're forfeiting your old one.

The game has a decent enough interface, very similar to Sim City 3000. The stylus can be a bit tricky for building. Luckily, there's an undo button for anything you've placed in the wrong area. Undo doesn't work for bulldozing, however, so be very careful your stylus doesn't slip and wipe out several city blocks.

The gameplay seems leaves an awful lot to be desired. A big part of Sim City 3000 was enacting ordinances with town neighbours and citizens. So far as I can tell, there are only two real ordinances you can enable and they are both very monotonous and silly. An old man named Arthur will pester you constantly that he heard a neighbouring city will take away your garbage for $250 a month. This is a 5 year contract. This never changes, and will happen for you every 5 years. The only other ordinance I encountered was a chance to build a casino which would give the town some extra money, but raise crime and lower land value. That's it. There's nothing else.

Occasionally (actually very frequently), citizens will come to you with pointless requests. Candy, the high school student will be sure to remind you that the city needs more zoos and parks (35 zoos is not enough). Phil the Fireman will bother you for a new stadium every couple of months. An elderly woman will pester you for more hospitals. There's quite a few of these, but they always have the same requests, and furthermore, they cannot be satisfied.

The game suffers from large scale slowdowns when the city is under heavy construction. This is most of the time, and gets worse as your city grows. Every few years some mad scientist bursts into your office and presents you with a new technology, regardless of what you've allocated towards “Research Budget”. In fact, most of the budgets are pretty useless—if you'd like to have a lot of money, feel free to lower all the budgets to 0% for a few years. The worst that will happen is you get a few fires that get put out on their own anyways.

It is the secret thrill of every Sim City player to build an incredible metropolis to its peak and then crush it with disasters like earthquakes and tornados. Sorry, you cannot summon disasters in Sim City DS. Can we have another zoo?

One other mode worth mentioning, I guess, is Disaster Mode, which isn't really as cool as it sounds. There are some pre-made cities in different areas of the world. This is basically a “challenge-mode” where you are tasked with rebuilding a city after it has been struck by several earthquakes, or rioting, or fires. Fun if you're into that, I'm not, I wanted to build a cool city and got gypped.

The music in this game is nice, but very repetitive. If you're like me you'll have it turned off by the year 1915. The sound is nothing to brag about, but it is not particularly unpleasant. The graphics look alright, basically taken right from Sim City 3000, except they are too often repeated. Most buildings look the same and there is very little of the variety you saw in any of the PC counterparts.

I could go on and on about gameplay issues. The demand for residential zones is unwavering. Commercial, non-existant. Industrial, barely. This game is like some sick joke hacked together in a week for a community college student's year-end programming project. I honestly would have preferred a direct port of Sim City 1 to this drivel.

Overall, I would say this game isn't even worth a rental. I'm going to trade mine in for store credit, hopefully. I've never written a review for a game before, but this one was such a major disappointment for me, I had to get the word out. Electronic Arts really dropped the ball on this one. There was a lot of potential here, but it just did not live up to Sim City standards.

Reviewer's Rating:   1.5 - Bad

Originally Posted: 06/26/07

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