by Sergio Brinkhuis
reviewed on PC
Besides Societal Energies, many buildings contain one or more special features. Some have an increased chance of spawning criminals, others will increase the productivity (and thus income) of nearby buildings. In theory this should deliver a wealth of opportunities for buildings to balance or strengthen each other. In practice however, there are so many options that you will soon stop factoring them into any of your decisions.
And that is exactly when things will start to go wrong. You see, it doesn’t stop with that decision. Soon you will no longer try to mix and match particular buildings, and why should you? You can place a single Fire Station in the center of your city and pretty much have it service the entire map. There is no real need to find the sweet spots for them as you can simply send your fire fighters to wherever you feel like sending them. Worse, they don’t cost money. In fact, Fire Stations will -earn- you money and if you would want to, you could fill your entire city with Fire Stations as long as you provide enough housing and electricity as well. Your city will never burn down, and you will get rich. There is no need to provide cables from your Nuclear Power Plant to your buildings (and as they don’t grow old, why would you build anything other than Nuclear Plants?) and Water Treatment Plants are not necessary at all. Why bother building one? You guessed, they make money.
Keeping your Sims happy isn’t much harder either: place some more Venues that make them happy, it will only cost you your initial investment, there are no operating costs and any negative side effects are easily countered by placing another building right next to it, or on the other side of the map. Your choice, it really doesn’t matter. Okay, maybe I am exaggerating a little but not much.
So… if building a successful city takes very little planning and money is never in short supply, the Societal Energies will make things more difficult, right? Well, no. I am sorry to say that the Energies are really nothing more than resources and gathering them is no challenge at all. And that sums up the entire game. Sim City Societies offers very little challenge. Even in the standard game mode, it feels like you are playing in sandbox mode.
If you are short on a particular energy, you open the construction menu, filter on that particular energy and throw down a couple of random buildings. Short on cash? Speed up the game, build some more work places, and that’s it. Never at any point are you offered a problem that you will actually have to break a sweat to deal with.
It is easy to imagine why Tilted Mill got excited with the idea of Societal Energies but the implementation is sorely lacking. The presentation we were given in Leipzig showed a city that was ruled like a dictatorship. While it is easy to reproduce this in the game, I seriously doubt many of you will be clicking on buildings to send out your special agents and bring unhappy and unruly citizens back into the fold. Why? Because keeping them happy in the first place is a lot easier and will produce better results when it comes to productivity and income.
Caesar IV had the lowest score of any of the games in the series and I am afraid that Tilted Mill has bestowed the same fate on Sim City Societies. If I were Electronic Arts, I’d be begging Maxis to set things right for the franchise as soon as they are done with Spore.
No Pros and Cons at this time