First look: SimCity (PC)

We take a look at the the return of the city construction simulator

The Cloud is still in its infancy in many ways, yet it has been widely adopted for a variety of tasks, though games have tended to use the technology sparingly, typically limited to MMORPGs and multiplayer modes. That has been changing recently with the release of Blizzard’s Diablo III last year, which required an online connection to play the single player mode. The company somehow underestimated the demand for its own high profile product, as a large amount of users found themselves unable to log in to the severs ("error 37") to play the game.

Start-up troubles

While the Diablo III launch was rocky, the company managed to ramp up capacity so that the server issue was solved in a relatively timely manner. The situation would repeat itself months later with the release of EA’s SimCity reboot, but the server issue in this case was on a completely different level. I was unable to download the necessary files for the game following launch.

When the download did begin it was painfully slow and I gave up a few hours later. I finally managed to download the game on the second game and even managed to login in without too much trouble, as EA had sorted out its Asia Pacific servers. However, on the fourth day of gaming I received an error that my city could not save.

When I logged back in, about 20 minutes of progress had disappeared. Over the next three days I could no longer load my city. Things did not seem to improve much after that.

Panic in the city

Another off bug was when I tried to join a game, the list kept showing regions with cities all claimed by other players. I tried all the different filters, but could not find an empty spot for approximately 20 minutes. The Cheetah speed was removed to cope with server issues, which ended up impeding game progress, though it is likely that EA will instate the function once the server issue is solved.

While the game looks amazing and provides a near limitless amount of micromanagement and customisation, the scale of the game is actually limited to a small bit of terrain. Unlike in the previous games where the player could build a massive metropolis with relative ease, the game has been reworked so the player trades with other cities or move on to another city within the region. This might not be such an issue for gamers who have never played the past games, but SimCity veterans might be disappointed by the smaller scale of this effort.

Pros

- Looks nice and is brimming with detail.

- Works well even on PCs with modest hardware.

Cons

- Server issues prevent the game from even running.

- Server problems continued even a week post launch.

- Numerous game bugs and odd adjustments compared to past games.

- Mandatory updates to download every day.

- Reducing the core gameplay to small cities is not fun.

- No chatting with other city owners.

- Buying, selling and trading recources between cities is flawed and does not work properly.

Bottom Line

The server issues are a massive barrier to the enjoyment of the game, but once that gets solved there is a decent, if not restrictive, game experience to be found in SimCity.

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Patrick Budmar

Patrick Budmar

PC World
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