by Sergio Brinkhuis
reviewed on PC
A learning experience
I remember first hearing about Sim City Societies… Being a long time fan of the series, my heart leapt in anticipation. I immediately wanted to don my mayor’s hat and scrounge together some funding, envisioned picking out a nice location with lush, flat land. In my minds eye, I stood looking out over a small river snaking through what one day would be a thriving metropolis. My metropolis.
My reverie lasted until I read that not Maxis but Tilted Mill had been put in charge of developing the game. The good people at Maxis are doing overtime finishing up Spore and a Sim City sequel was long overdue. Teaming up with Tilted Mill seemed an obvious choice for publisher Electronic Arts. Having developed Caesar IV and Immortal Cities: Children of the Nile, Tilted Mill’s experience with creating City Builders is without question. Yet… neither of these two games came close to being ‘Sim City Quality’.
Fast forward to last August when the Leipzig Game Convention was held. After months of doubt, things were looking up for the game. We were shown a capable game that was able to produce very unique looking cities and promised to introduce some twists that would move the series into a new, more interactive direction. I was fairly enthusiastic after seeing the presentation. But if there is one thing that I have learned from Sim City Societies, it is that seeing a game being demoed right in front of you is not the same as actually playing it for a couple of days.
Let’s do the twist
City Builder games all work in more or less the same way. You get some money or gold in your coffers and a plot of land is assigned to you. After putting in some basic infrastructure you can then start building housing, places to work, healthcare facilities and so on. Once you have the basic city set up, new buildings and other options become available and slowly you extend your town and turn it into a flourishing city.
In most games, the difficulty curve comes from handling unforeseen situations. Your citizens may suddenly go unhappy because they are expecting you to provide new standards of living. Important buildings may burn down, putting enormous pressure on your infrastructure, etc, etc. A good City Builder will hardly ever give you any reason to sit back and enjoy the scenery.
With Sim City Societies, Tilted Mill has tried to take the standard City Builder fare a little bit further by introducing Societal Energies. While it sounds intriguing, Societal Energies are little more than a hip name for ‘resources’. These Societal Energies are Productivity, Prosperity, Creativity, Spirituality, Authority and Knowledge. A building may produce one or two energies but can require another to function. Some energy’s, Productivity for instance, are hard to come by because very few buildings provide them in large quantities.
No Pros and Cons at this time