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Review by: Brian Clair
Published: March 12, 1999
One of the most well-known game franchises in the world today is Maxis’ SimCity — a series that has captured the minds of gamers ever since the original top-down classic was released years ago. I can still remember playing the original SimCity in high school; it was my first introduction to city-building games and would make me a lifelong fan of the genre. Maxis continued to evolve SimCity with SimCity 2000, which was a huge jump from the original game, and has recently released the next evolution, SimCity 3000.
SimCity 3000 is a game that struggled, at first, to find an identity. When we saw it at E3 back in 1997, it would be an understatement to say that no one was impressed. Many in the press were left wondering what Maxis was attempting to do with the franchise as the original concept of the game took it into a ground level 3D world. SimCity 3000 was to be a conglomeration of the Streets of SimCity, Sim Copter, and Sim Golf (none of which were stellar titles). The reason for this change in aspect was due to Maxis’, old management who desperately needed a hit title to help the company financially. Luckily for SimCity fans, Electronic Arts bought out Maxis and dumped the entire original concept for the game.
What gamers received in the end are all the best elements from SimCity 2000 plus a more detailed economic system, traffic system, pollution system, etc. Rather than try to create an unwholesome revolution, Maxis opted for an evolution and they definitely stepped in the right direction.
Visually, the landscapes in SimCity 3000 are quite similar to those that were in SimCity 2000, albeit much larger and more defined. You can still alter randomly generated landscapes, but not nearly as much as before; Maxis has removed the “infinite power” cheat by creating a huge mountain of water and placing water generators on it — there is no water power in this game. Along those lines, you need no longer string power lines to every zone/building either. As long as zones are adjacent to other zones that have power, you’re all set. Power lines are reserved for bringing electricity long distances or to connect to other cities. Water works in much the same way, except that each water line will supply an area for seven squares around it. This is a welcomed improvement from SimCity 2000, which had numerous pipes you had to keep connected.
The infrastructure of SimCity has only evolved slightly since SimCity 2000, which I found disappointing. SimCity 3000 has improved the way roads, highways, railroads, buses and subways function, all to Maxis’ credit, but otherwise there is nothing new. I would have liked to have seen magnetic rails, mag-tubes, and maybe even teleporters as time progressed in the game. The same can be said of power and water plants in SimCity 3000. While many were brought over from SimCity 2000, there is a lack of any real innovation later in this game.
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