The New SimCity : yea or nay?

(Do not want to clutter the other SimCity region play thread…)

I was planning to get the new SimCity, but held back for fear of server issues. Now that Maxis is bumping up the server count, how is the game besides the connection instability? Is it fun, are there bugs and do you think it’s worth the price of admission?

Nay for me, though more for the gimped gameplay than the server issues (which should go away soon enough). Currently has a user score of 1.6 on Metacritic (and going down by the day). Amusingly, the current “10” user review is also by a thoroughly displeased user, who apparently gave it a 10 so his review would not be lost among the thousands of zeroes.

I really like it. The server issues are a bit of a bummer, but honestly, there’s only been one or twice that I wanted to play and couldn’t get on. It was the worst the first few days. They really screwed that whole thing up.

That said, judging solely on non-online aspects and gameplay, the only thing that bugs me is the city size; it’s way too small. Other than that, I’ve been having a great time. They got rid of a lot of the tedious stuff, like laying down pipes and electrical lines, and made it so you could concentrate on the more fun aspects. The graphics are really beautiful, and I like that you can take your city in a lot of different directions (gambling/tourism/industry/etc).

I also like how you can add to existing buildings instead of having to bulldoze/rebuild to upgrade, though you do still have to manage space. In general, space management is an issue for everything, because the city size is so small. Even worse if you’re on the coast or have a river.

Oh, and curvy roads. I loooove the curvy roads!

I don’t have it, so I cannot comment on the gameplay, but I understand that it needs servers not just for authorization, but for actual computation during the game, even on single player. It will cease to work if EA decides to stop providing servers to support it, and cannot work if your connection is down.

Any corrections to my understanding of this are of course welcome.

Nope, that’s absolutely true. It’s a 100% online game. I wish it weren’t so, but it is.

Apparently they patched in a removal of the online check during gameplay, so now if you get disconnected you won’t be tossed out of the game any more, but if you can’t reconnect it won’t save your progress. So there’s really no reason it couldn’t be played offline other than DRM.

I’m just starting to actually be able to play the game now.

It is very much a SimCity game. You lay roads, zone RCI, build utilities and whatnot, and watch your city grow. In that sense, it is actually pretty cool the way the Glassdoor engine models every little thing.

Oh and here’s a hint. People have been complaining that you can’t zone Low, High, Medium anymore. That’s not really true. It’s based on the roads. The road types (upgradable, which is nice) set the maximum density. And when you dezone a plot after a building has been created, it will keep the current building.

My big complaint is the size and the region structure. In SC4, I liked making large sprawling regions. Think cities like Phoenix, AZ or LA with miles of urban sprawl. You can sort of do that with the multi-city region play. But I also want to design the regional rail and highway networks. Not stick with the “one road in/out” christmas tree light design.

Also, what happened to terraforming or even random region design? I hate that you are stuck with the same 8 maps.

Servers are more stable now then they were at release and there are more of them. North America & Europe have doubled and there’s even one in Antartica of all places.

Casinos are bugged and apparently so are Heroes & Villains.

Sure there is. The simulation engine would need to be reprogrammed to significantly reduce detail when not connected.

It doesn’t. Only thing that happens is that the region doesn’t get updated if it gets disconnected.

I’m having a lot of fun with it. I’ve built three cities so far; one a huge mining/drilling town; one a big trading center, and one a smaller high-tech/finance/touristy university town. Each has it’s own challenges. The biggest issues for me are:

  1. city size - the zone fills quickly and it’s really hard to get a city above a population of 175k or more. I guess if you built a region where the C and I were in other neighboring cities that your sims could commute to… I dont’ know if that would work or not. I have a lot of sims traveling between my two adjecent cities and trafic is backed up on the highway for miles. And there is never room for things you need without buildozing a neighborhood, it seems.

  2. It’d be really nice to have some other terrain options.

Maybe one or both of these are planned for future expansions, I don’t know.

I can recommend the game.

The level of the simulation does it for me. This SimCity is all about tweaking the economic engine that is your city. I like being to see how individual things interact. Placement of bus stops and intersections really matter. Placement of services matters, but not like the old games where they had a circular area of effect. Now, the area of effect is based on how well the service vehicles can get to where they need to.

I like that zoning is free and streets do not require maintenance. I like that buildings can be upgraded and customized. But that does mean placement is more important.

There are plenty of bugs, but a lot are probably because the servers are still overloaded. And not any different that previous games, which were bug-laden. We’ll see how it goes, but I’m having fun now and am hopeful they’ll make fixes. If you get frustrated easily or want the best value for your money, wait six months until things are worked out.

“We’ve identified that many of our issues were related to how [SimCity’s] GlassBox [engine] managed the vast amount of simulation data through its database. We’ve addressed that and we’ve seen an 80 percent decrease in connectivity or responsiveness issues. Still, 80 percent is not good enough and so we are continuing to aggressively address this area.” - Lucy Bradshaw, Maxis General Manager

It doesn’t matter what they say. If there was so much going on server-side it would be impossible to continue playing after a disconnect, which it currently isn’t. Hence, it’s a big old load of rubbish.

Do you know this from personal experience, or some other source?

Other sources, I’ve held off on buying it myself after seeing all the issues.

I think the server issues may be solved as I have been able to play quite a bit over the last couple of days. I found it fun at first. It had been a long time since i played SimCity and there is thrill watching the stuff you lay out get built up but…

It is really SimRegion not SimCity. The teh sites within a region are not just plots of land. They are interconnected and dependent on each other. Even if you chose to play single player completely you can’t just focus on one site in the region and tweak it until it is a huge metropolis. The game just doesn’t work that way. I am not a fan of this. I also hate the fact that I have to worry about Coal and Oil etc. That is stupid. Does the mayor of New York care about that stuff? No and I shouldn’t either. These cities are a part of a world presumably. This is the game Civilization.

I am honestly not sure if I can recommend it but if the server issues are the only thing holding you back, I can state those seem to be mostly resolved.

Yeah, me too.

Can somebody who has the game do an experiment for us? Start a game, and after it’s going for a bit, unplug your router or cable modem to kill your internet connection. Does the game continue to play? Does it play any differently, besides the region not being updated?

Every now and then while I’m playing, it’ll pop up a message telling me that I’ve lost my connection to the Maxis server. As far as I can tell, nothing significant changes. I don’t know how the game deals with things like resources and services that are being borrowed/bought from other cities.

I’m not in love with it, honestly. I do enjoy playing in the same region with other people - I have one town in the SDMB region, and another in a region with some other friends, and half the fun of each is looking at everyone else’s cities - but to me that’s the only argument for buying it at this point. There are just so many issues that scream “buy me during the Origin 2013 Holiday Sale and you’ll have a much better experience”. Not just the server stuff, either: there are gameplay bugs, features that have been scaled down or removed (most notably, they’ve removed the highest playing speed until they get the server stuff worked out), and features that are sorely needed that could conceivably show up down the line (terraforming, larger plots).

I find that I am enjoying myself when I sit down and play it, but I don’t have a near-uncontrollable craving to be playing it for every waking moment, which would normally be my reaction to a game like this.

The game uses an asynchronous connection.