Will Wright is more or less credited with creating the most famous God game of all time; SimCity. It wasn't a looker of a game, but then again, very few games back then had anything going on for them in the graphics department. What was interesting was the previously untried practice of controlling the lives of millions (for better or worse) than the life of one (often for worse). SimCity 2 expanded on all of the concepts for the better, and is arguably the best of the series, while SimCity 3 was SimCity 2 with a new coat of paint and landmarks.
SimCity 4 (and it's expansion, Rush Hour), is no longer the most recent iteration of the SimCity series, but it's the last one that wasn't dumbed down (you know something's up if the price for a game goes from full price to $30 in a matter of days). The core gameplay is there, including everyone's favourite function; disasters.
Fortunately, the disasters are more or less intact, from the classics (Fire, volcano, UFO) to some new and disappointing ones (Servo the Robot AKA Robo-Godzilla ripoff, lightning strikes). What's fairly cool is that you can control where some of the disasters go, such as Servo, lightning, volcano, and tornadoes. This allowed me a bit more satisfaction to my sadistic alter-ego, who was laughing maniacally while petting his white cat.
But the main problem isn't that it copies it's ancestors and brings nothing to the table, it's because the game has now become more complex than a D&D game in Swedish. Now, I've been with the series since the second iteration, I have a good idea of how to play. Pipes and power were there from the original and 2, there wasn't a problem. For starters, the God-damn industry and commercial zones - they can't seem to decide whether or not you get clean hi-tech shiznit or coal emitters. And my commercial zones are either constantly empty, medium-value, or abandoned.
Then there's the transportation system. Buses, subways, and rails are simple to use, even the highways and monorails are alright. But the first person to adequately explain to me the new **** that came with Rush Hour will have seventy-five clean hookers sent to his bedroom, because not even Einstein could figure this **** out without looking at GameFAQs constantly. Commute times are another problem - the game cryptically hints at how to solve it, but it just doesn't seem to work! Maybe it's just me, but the system seems impossible to fix.
My copy of SimCity came with it's expansion, Rush Hour, which, along with ripping off Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker, brought in the aforementioned shitty transportation 'upgrades' and driving mission. You basically control a vehicle from an isometric viewpoint trying to get from Point A to Point B or to destroy a building without destroying your own vehicle. This is harder than it sounds, because your camera angle is isometric. As anyone who's controlled a vehicle in any game could tell you, racing against a time limit is hard enough; doing so while having bad turning skills and an awful camera is impossible.
On the plus side of these missions, you can control a ****ing tank and blow **** up once you have a military base. It's like that day when you decided to play with the cheat codes for Grand Theft Auto, only this time there won't be any cops to stop you. On to the bad news; good luck aiming your weapon - especially if you're controlling the military helicopter.
Perhaps it's because of people constantly *****ing about how difficult this game was that EA had the next SimCity game dumbed down considerably (see Yahtzee's review for the scoop). They had the right idea, but went too far into the right direction and screwed the pooch still. But in the end, if I have a choice between suffering with a bunch of geniuses who are playing strategy games and a bunch of idiots who think they're stratamegizing, I'd rather just go home and play Fable: The Lost Chapters.
Verdict: If you really liked SimCity 3000, go for it. Otherwise... find a demo or stay away.
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Mel's note: A while back, I started playing SimCity again. This was mainly down to me purchasing the Deluxe edition from Gamestation for like, a tenner, but all the same. Anyway, before my CDs became ripped to shreds during an unpleasant accident involving a toaster, zeppelin and thirty Chinese men* I created somewhat of a sprawling metropolis over a reasonably large region. Now I'm offering the whole place up so fans who still play the bloody game can have something to mess about with. This also allows me to test out using Google Mail as a hosting program.
Note: I'm not sure if it matters, but the version I was using was (I think) an unpatched Deluxe. Take care if simply installing on vanilla. I've also compressed the lot as a .rar file, so get WinRAR too.
Or, if it actually doesn't work:
*May or may not be a joke.
I maybe, kinda cheated so each city, despite being a sprawling metropolis, is actually lacking both basic power and water facilities. You can continue cheating and playing without them (just Google it for the cheats) or alternatively, try and rectify my n00bish situation. Enjoy, anyway.