Sim City 4, YOINKS!

I just got this game today and all I can say is WOW!

This game has, bar none, the BEST graphics detail I have EVER seen. Nothing else comes close. IF you haven’t seen the pictures online you should check them out. You can zoom all the way down to the town to see people walking, playing sports, building, and everything.

I have always sucked at the Sim City games and get frustrated easily and have failed several times at making a small city so I can’t really comment on the gameplay.

But it looks AWSOME!

BTW, I am running a P3 850, 768MB SDRAM, and a GF4200ti and this thing is running smooth for me. I have read alot of people having tech problems but not me.

Are the archologies back? I need to know, those things were so cool.

That’s what kills me. I knew this game was going to be cool, but I also knew my computer (P3-450, 256 MB, Geforce2-64MB) wouldn’t stand a chance of running it.

So what’s fundamentally different about the game, aside from the graphic updates?

Blackeyes – No arcologies, at least in the initial version (the game was designed to allow expansion packs like The Sims, so anything’s possible). I was never a fan of the arcologies in 2000, though, personally.

ElwoodCuse – It does demand a lot out of your computer; I think the biggest requirements are: RAM (I recommend 512MB minimum), video card (it was designed with GeForce 4’s in mind), and then processor speed.

As for what’s different, I’d say the biggest things are:

  1. Localized effects. All your civic buildings, like schools, police, hospital, etc. have a localized coverage radius instead of a global effect on the city. So you can’t just build an island of schools at one end of the city, for example. You can adjust funding and coverage radius for each building individually, or use a global slider to adjust budget for the entire department.

  2. Regional play. You start with a region of connected cities instead of working on one plot in the middle of “SimNation.” You control each of the cities in your region, so you can set up specialized mini-cities in an entire metro area. One city can be your industrial center, with outlying suburb towns around it. The R/C/I demand is shared over neighbor connections. You can also set up neighbor deals with other cities you control, so you can have one city contain all the power plans or garbage or water for your region, for example.

  3. Better (a lot of people say “harder”) play-balancing. SC3000 had the problem that after you’d developed a city for 10 years or so, the money would just start snowballing in and there’d be no challenge left. There was nothing keeping you from getting skyscrapers and super high-wealth areas all around, with one of every reward, etc. The problem with that is that all cities would end up looking the same and there wasn’t much challenge left. Just about everything in SC4 has a monthly maintenance cost, so you can’t plop down anything without keeping an eye on the budget, and you have to really make decisions about what you’re going to place in the city, or else you’ll run out of money quickly. It demands slower, more realistic (IMO) development.

  4. Better traffic simulation and time-of-day. Your city goes through day and night cycles on an accelerated clock, and you can see your morning and evening commute cycles, activity around different buildings at different times of day, where your commute traffic goes as opposed to where your freight traffic goes, etc.

Sure, I’m biased, but I think it’s the best version of the game yet. There’s a ton of stuff to see, a ton of stuff to do (without too much tedium), and the real feeling that you’re growing a city instead of using a big paint program.

After playing the game a little longer, I must report that I’m starting to think it’s actually too hard. Almost ANY mistake in planning seems to result in a financial death spiral, and loans won’t help you at all.

I can’t see this game being accessible to any but the most hard core gamers. (Exacerbated by the high system requirements.) It’s a terrifically designed game, but the difficulty’s ratcheted up far too high, with no option to change it.

I too thought that this game was rediculously hard the first few times I played it. However, that’s cause I played it like the old Simcity games, and this one works in a very different way. Mostly, you have to always keep an eye on your monthly budget. In the beginning, you will be paying more than you take in, but within 10 or 20 years, you need to get it even, or maybe even make money. Once you’re able to make money, you can do certain things that will cause you to start losing for a year or two, if it causes growth that will get you back in the black.

As for how to get to making money, let me give you some handy dandy tips that I’ve found work really well.

[li]Start building near an edge of the city and immediatly build a connection ot the next region[/li][li]You do not need schools until you’re over 10,000 people. They’re too expensive to upkeep when you’ve got a population that is smaller than this.[/li][li]You can get away with not having a fire department until your first fire, then just set one down, save on monthly costs[/li][li]Your first region city will generally have to be very industrial and very dirty - don’t worry about it, you can put a totally non industrial city next to it, and just have people commute[/li][li]Build wind powerplants until you’ve got 7 - if you need another at that point, bulldoze those 7 and build a natural gas plant. This keeps your monthly power costs to the bare minimum.[/li][li]Don’t be afraid to accept military bases, prisons, anything that’ll boost your monthly income. Your first region needs to have a solid income.[/li][/ul]

One of the biggest suprises I found in this game is how much the regions work off of eachother. I had built my first region as mostly industrial, the rest residential with very little commercial mixed in. I had it until the R was extremely high and I was about even, then went to the next region, where i had roads linking the two. In the second region, I build only residential and commercial - mostly residential (about 90% res, 10% commercial) and within about 10 years, had over 10,000 people, as they all were working in the industrial region.

When I went back to the industrial region, my population went down a bit, but my tax revenue went through the roof, as there were thousands of new industrial jobs. Plus, I could build schools in the residential region without killing my budget, without having to worry about thousands of powerplants or water towers.

I guess I knew that’s how it was supposed to work, but after making 10 or so struggling, or even failed, cities, this was a real eye opener. Now there’s plenty of tax revenue to go around and I can get around to building whatever kind of area I want, so long as it’s connected into one of the other regions.

What RickJay said–While all the new features are cool, this game is too hard, especially if you’re a newbie. The two brief tutorials just don’t cut it.

Whatever happened the good old fashioned idea of difficulty levels?

HideoHo–If I build, say, a road to the next region, does that region also have to have a road in the exact same spot?

I’m trying the regional approach. So far I have to admit that it doesn’t work exceptionally well. It’s not clear to me how much management your feeder cities require; are they going to run themselves or do I have to dedicate more of my time to running them after they’re set up?

It seems to help a little in creating neighbor deals. I believe you CAN build a large and successful city with a lot of work. My objection is that it really is a lot of WORK, which isn’t what a good game should feel like at all; it’s just got too much frustration and too little fun. I still find it baffling as to why Maxis did not think to have difficulty levels.

If you put it into a blank region, when you go to that region, the road will already be there. If you put it going into an existing region, it will put in a cooresponding road, or intersection, depending if there is road there already. However, you have to be careful when doing that - I accidentally destroyed a military base by putting in a road from one region that came in at the base. Luckily, I was trying to bulldoze it already (costs 50,000 to bulldoze a base!) but you have to be careful making connections into existing regions.

However, if you make a connection and it just goes to a blank region, it goes to the ‘SimNation’ which gives you growth bonuses and helps you build up your city faster.

You can also make power and water connections to other regions, to make deals, but I havn’t played with those at all yet. I do know that theoretically, you can have a region that supplies all the industry and ‘dirty’ power and a completely clean region next to it, which greatly helps with your production, making it easier to keep your sims happy.

I loved SimCity and SimCity2K. I bought SimCity 3000 and played it twice. It’s not even loaded on my machine right now.

I don’t know why I fell out of love with Sim games. I got to the point where they were so detailed I felt I should have to punch in before playing. It felt like work instead of play. I like the idea of design, of playing around and so forth. Having to hand-tweak every stoplight and keep track of dog licenses isn’t fun to me.

I wish the games would have a big checklist of stuff that can be automated, so that you could only concentrate on the things you want to.

I think you have to have played Sim City 2000 and 3000 to have a chance at 4.

It’s been a long time since I played 3000 and I’ve forgotten just about everything I knew about building a city.

Lego - it would be too tempting to check everything on the list, and then get completely bored with the game.

I think the game’s brilliance is in forcing the player to work hard (if he/she wants a decent city and happy sims)

I sound like a Maxis rep, but oh well…

The regions are able to “grow” by up to 10% of where they are currently, so you need to change between them fairly often. You can’t setup just a few zones in one region, then expect them to grow while you look at another.

However, I think the best thing to do is make a city and not worry about air pollution or how dirty it is. You have to almost build up your region like any real city. If you want to build quickly, don’t worry about dirt and smog, just make dirty industry, a la Pittsburgh. After a while, phase that stuff out. You can try to build an agricultural city - starting with farms and some commercial for jobs, but that’s much more difficult.

Also, those gifts are very useful when you’re at that 8 - 10K level and struggling to keep up on your monthly payments. But, this is the only Simcity game I’ve played that loans CAN get you out of trouble.

It is very difficult to figure out what the game wants you to do to get started. Once you figure out what you can get away with (no schools, limited fire/police) and what you need to grow, you’ll have no problem starting your cities.

I have got to get this game! Can it convert SC3K cities? That would really be a plus.

What’s an example of an unrecoverable mistake in the game? I’m not being argumentative; I really want to know…

You can’t import cities from 3K; the city format is too different. The scale has changed dramatically to be somewhat more realistic, for one thing. And the concept of lots is new – development no longer just occurs across a zone, the zone is automatically split into lots, each of which supports one building and several plots. (And the engine was almost completely rewritten.)

Checking everything and then getting bored seems to be a fault of the player, not the game or the idea. My old roommate used to play Civilization on Level 1 until he could beat it every time, and then got bored with it. When I suggested he move up to Level 2, he balked, saying, “But then I might lose!” I don’t consider that a problem with Civilization.

Perhaps the difficulty and complexity is brilliance, but that’s not fun to me. I enjoy the design aspects. The original Sim games were more like toys than games, where you could play around and try things out to see what happened. That aspect seems to be gone, in favor of micromanagement at an absurd level.

  • Mis-zoning early in the game
  • Placing more schools than need be
  • Taking out a loan (DOOM!)

Once you’re in Financial Death Spiral, it’s time to start a new city. There’s SOME room for error, but not much - certainly less than an actual city has.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s a good product, but it needs a difficulty level patch. A video game should NOT feel like work. It should be challenging, but “challenging” and “feels like work” aren’t the same thing.

Again, I can build up a small city - I’ve got one to 32,000 right now - but I’m a hard core gamer and I’ve played more sim games than I can count. I cannot imagine my father, a huge fan of the SimCity Classic, enjoying this game; it’s just not accessible on a fun level. And I can’t understand what they were thinking; why not have three difficulty levels, with Easy giving you 30% more tax revenue or something? Earlier versions all had difficulty levels. You have to wonder if any of the playtesters they used were newcomers to SimCity. I doubt it.

Hmmm…seems like I finally got my budget straightened out. Not being able to work overtime really messed it up. I have plenty of cash to last me until I get paid next week so I’m thinking I could get SC4 tonight instead of waiting for my tax refund. Or maybe I should get the new Sims expansions, then again I don’t really play The Sims much. Decisions, decisions…

Does Sim City 4 have graveyards? If they do, is there a financial opportunity where you can build a Sim-lent Green factory on the outskirts of town to feed the homeless and supplement low income families without resorting to foodstamps but if the news breaks then WHAM riots everywhere! Huh? Huh?

Anyway with the micromanagement aspect of Sim City 4 I am wondering why Maxis doesn’t make Sim City 5 into a game where you can choose to build a city then run a certain department while the others are run on automatic and you check in on them every year as mayor. As an option, of course.

Actually processor speed is what you need most. With graphics like that, there’s no way the game is true 3D, so it’s unlikely to be stressing your videocard. Informal testing by users reports little effect on game slowdowns from adding or removing RAM. This makes sense for a computation-intensive sim game.

I wish I had money so I could buy this.