The first in my series of reviews today is the latest incarnation of SimCity from Maxis. SimCity 4, published by EA, tries to be everything the previous three are not: perfect. It unfortunately falls dreadfully short. The main downfall of SC4 is just simply bad programing. The game goes beyond merely buggy and enters a new realm of “craptastic.” The main complaint seems to be lag anytime a city exceeds a few thousand in population. This is obviously a bad thing since it’s the point of the game to create a large thriving city. The really sad part is that they tried so hard to make all the little things extra interesting and just forgot about things like, ummm, the game. Also, if you’ve played Simcity 3000, this game is hardly new. The interface got a “Sims” upgrade and is the most annoying, candy-coated thing in creation. The “music” is equally annoying having combined equal parts “pop-crap” with horrible synth. There are however a few minor saving graces. The graphics are well done and the buildings and street scenes are nicely animated. The disasters are nicely redone although lag inducing as well. All the elements are here for a good game but Maxis dropped the ball this time and put out something that simply wasn’t ready. It’s a shame since it was delayed twice and apparently they used that extra time to make sure you could incorporate your “Sims” into your “Sim City” rather than fixing major game play issues.

In terms of “originality” there isn’t any. This IS SimCity 3000. The same blue, yellow and green squares representing different zones, the same “advisers” helping you out, that sort of thing. All the old rules apply such as not building a nuclear power plant next to a residential zone or turning your transportation budget to max to keep everyone happy.

The major upside, and it isn’t a big one, is that it’s addictive. Building a large, well-off city takes practice and patience and you can sit in front of the screen for hours hoping to get just a few more people to move into your residential sections so that you can put in another subway stop. This is what made SimCity fun over the past few incarnations and that hasn’t changed. The only problem is that nothing else has changed either.

So, in summation, if you want to play SimCity 3000 with nicer graphics, give this one a shot… after a few patches and bug fixes. If you were on the fence in terms of entertainment with previous versions, don’t even bother. It’s a waste of your time. I was considering going into greater detail about different aspects of the game but decided against it. It’s no fun going back and reviewing a game that you played and disliked a few weeks ago. I apologize for my lack of review in the meantime but it really wasn’t compelling enough to do. Lets just leave it at that.

Final Score – Craptastic