Review by Kakarot181

"Just as addictive as the virtual drugs your own Sim police force will be fighting on the streets of your SimCity"

Ah, SimCity… how the years have just flown by. I remember all those countless hours I spent churning out city after city after city in 2000, but I unfortunately strayed away from computer gaming and focusing primarily on console and handheld gaming instead. As a result, I went a long time without being able to enjoy a new SimCity title. Sure, there was the occasional platform release, but none of them were really close to being good. In all honesty, by 2007 I had practically relegated the franchise to the back recesses of my mind and was on the road to forgetting all about it entirely. Then SimCity DS was announced, and my interest was piqued. The idea of using a stylus for city building was immediately attractive to me, so I awaiting the game's release with great excitement. While the end game was not all that it could have been, SimCity DS is a solid and unbelievably addictive title that'll accidentally have you play for hours longer than you ever intended to. I still have numerous complaints though, so I will highlight the major positives and negatives of this game and let you know if this is a rent or a buy.

Plot: ?/10 - Build a city. I could go on, but if you're picking up a SimCity game for the storyline, then I'm afraid you're about to be disappointed due to the fact that it doesn't have one. No problem though, as the simple build-your-city-as-you-darn-well-please format has worked well in the past, and this tradition holds up quite well on the DS.

Game Play: 9.5/10 – This was the reason I was excited for the game. The use of the DS stylus at first glance seemed to be even more intuitive than using a computer mouse, and my judgment proved to be entirely correct. Through excellent use of the touch screen to lay down roads, zone areas, bulldoze abandoned building, and even to sign your own signature for mayoral decisions, this is quite possibly the best use of the stylus in an third party game to date. The only thing holding the game play category back from a perfect ten is that the system hiccups slightly when you're at the very edge of the map. When building a road or zoning an area at your city limits, the touch screen assumes that you want to scroll and as such often starts to carry you away from where you wish to be. While this does get occasionally annoying, and can sometime cause you to accidentally build a road far too long or create a residential district way too big, the handy “undo last action” button can easily fix any problem.

Graphics: 9/10 – This seems to be one of the more uniform complaints about SimCity DS that I have seen, but in all honesty I don't really understand it. Sure, the graphics of individual buildings may not be up to par with some other DS titles, but considering the fact that your city eventually grows to encompass tens of thousands of buildings and miles of road, the game looks just fine. If there was too much detail, the load time would be killer throughout (rather than just at the beginning and when you save). The makers of the game found a really nice balance point between graphics and load time, and for that I must commend them for it.

Sound: 4/10 – Okay, I won't lie. The sound's not too good. The music is somewhat soothing, but can get repetitive if you actually pay attention to it while the sound effects are fairly basic and not really worthy of mention. However, as a SimCity title, this really isn't that big of a deal. As you become engrossed in your own city, you won't even notice the music or anything of the like. So, while this is a negative, it's not that big of a one.

Characters: 2/10 – This is the only real flaw with the game. While previous titles in the franchise have had tabs you could click on to read short pieces of advice that you would more likely to ignore than not, the makers of the game instead created a system where you have one major adviser who you could ask for help at any time. Further, individual citizens can request to meet with you to let you know what should be done for the city. There's even a crazed scientist who creates new technologies for you to implement via infrastructural advancements. Sounds good, right? Not really. While I have nothing against the good old scientist or my adviser, you will come to hate the citizenry after only a short while due to the repetitiveness of their requests. Each citizen that asks for something only has one or two points they'd like to address, and as there are only a dozen or so of them, you quickly recycle through them to the point where you skip what they have to say rather than listen to them. This is a complete jarring point from the rest of the game and really could have been a major asset to the title had the developers realized that repetitive dialogue boxes get annoying fast.

Replayability: 8/10 – This is kind of a double-edged sword. While SimCity DS does have infinite replayability due to the inherent nature of the game on a number of different map types of varying degrees of difficulty, the problem is that the DS can only hold a single save file. So, while you may very well wish to build a new city on a new map (which the game oddly does not allow you to custom build a map as in the past), doing so would have to delete your existing city. It's a shame as I really would've liked to build my city into a single massive megalopolis that covered the entire “state” landmass that the game allows you to select from to build your city, this exciting possibility is not allowed. Still, while one may mourn past cities, there are always new ones to build, so this game will most likely be in active DS's for years to come.

Overall: 8/10 - All in all, despite it's flaws SimCity DS is an excellent title that everyone should play. While not being able to have multiple cities and the repetitive use of citizenry advice are major drags, the ease and fun to play and the infinite replay value of the game make it a must-own for the Nintendo DS. Don't rent, buy. I can all but guarantee that you'll get your money's worth out of the title. I know I have and plus some!

Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 07/18/07

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