EA Showcase 2012: SimCity returns with multi-city play

Maxis shows off its eagerly anticipated reimagining of SimCity in Sydney

Maxis SimCity producer, Jason Haber, presents during EA's Showcase 2012 event in Sydney

Maxis SimCity producer, Jason Haber, presents during EA's Showcase 2012 event in Sydney

EA has been quiet on the PC gaming front, but it hopes to rectify that with the March 7 release of Maxis’ SimCity.

The game picks up from where 2003’s SimCity 4 left off and ramps up the possibilities when it comes to creating your own metropolises.

Maxis SimCity producer, Jason Haber, says the game is running on an all new, reimagined, Glassbox simulation engine, which makes use of a tilt–shift effect to give the game a miniature toy look.

“The game has been designed with multi-city play in mind,” Haber said.

Glassbox engine allows the player to see individual Sims and what they are doing when clicked.

“You can get into a Sims’ car and follow them around as they navigate the city,” Haber said.

The game now allows for curved roads that take advantage of the terrain, and roads can be simply drawn over water to create bridges, which can later be upgraded.

Sims live in residential, work in industrial, shop in commercial areas as before, but land value can now be influenced by the surroundings, such as the addition of a park adding to the value.

“Roads can be upgraded to provide density, and in the process nearby buildings also increase in size,” Haber said.

Street cars and buses can be used to reduce traffic, with the player choosing where to put stops.

“There are even boats, ferries and aircrafts that allow Sims to travel between cities,” Haber said.

Breaking the law

Tourists in your town can be tracked from what town they came from, and this is useful as a happy Sim brings their happiness back to their own city, which in turn influences the development of that city.

In addition to being able to see sources of happiness, Haber says players can also see what is causing unhappiness, such as criminals.

“If holding cells at a jail become full, criminals begin to get released out on the streets and create unhappiness in the area,” he said.

“The solution is to upgrade the police station.”

The game also depicts seasonal change, such as leaves turning colours, and natural disasters from past iterations, such as meteor showers, are included so players can destroy their cities.

The large amount of features and flexibility of the game will allow players to design not one but many cities which can be used to support each other.

An example Haber used is making one city in an area entirely focused on sewerage treatment and maintaining garbage dumps.

“You can create a sustainable city around trash and also make a lot of money in the process,” he said.

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