I enjoy playing online games, even though finding just the right game that suits my style can be a challenge.  I have loved SuperPoke Pets in the past, and now, this week, I have a whole new endearment to endorse — SimCity — even though I have yet to play the game!

The reason I have not yet been able to play SimCity isn’t because of the widespread DRM server issues, but rather, because the game is not yet ready for play on a Mac.  I still feel totally justified in offering my review because I am able to vicariously play online by watching YouTube videos created by other players.

Hour after hour after hour I have watched and listened to how SimCity is built and played and I am wholly impressed with every aspect of creating, not just your own society, but your own world.  It’s so funny how all the YouTube games start with the same build patterns, and then, in a next video update, every single city looks totally different.  You sit there and wonder, “What happened?”  Time and tide is what happened!

I have played SimCity in the past and I found it slow and boring.  There is a lot of repetition in this new version, too — you spend eternal time and money on rebuilding too many roads — but once you establish your city and start making money and “finish the streets,” you begin to see the magic of the game in the expansions of common, communal, landmarks like Police Stations, Firehouses, Casinos, Universities and Coal and Oil plants.

In the past, when I would play SimCity, I would turn off the disasters.  I just couldn’t bear the idea of having a UFO or a tornado whip into town to destroy everything I’d built.

Now that I am older — and somewhat wiser — I see the value in bouncing back from natural disasters.  It’s much better to first learn in a simulated game how you’d respond to an earthquake than having to deal with that reality in your non-virtual life.

I haven’t played any SimCity game for a long while, so my fascinations may be old news to you.

Being able to build an Expo Center and a Stadium and then have live events in them that earn you a lot of money fast is a great amount of fun.  You can’t have too much fun, though, because your residents won’t have any more money to spend and you’ll be stuck putting on a great show that actually costs you money.

The new “regionalism” in SimCity is another big boost to gameplay.  You can either play alone and run all seven suburbs, or you can play with others online who will take over zones in your map.

When I am finally able to get the game, I think I’ll start out playing privately so I can learn how to manage and share resources between my seven regions.  Here’s my regional plan and Zones 1-3 will have to be built pretty much simultaneously to provide support services for each other.

Zone 1 — Generic Industry Cove: I will place a few workers here and lots of industry so I can “send” and “share” those resources to the other zones. Lots of Oil Drilling and Coal mining. The Sewage Processing and Power Plant Centers of my world. The residents here will be unhealthy and uneducated — and I expect them to set lots of things on fire and die young of disease — but they will have set the deed for the entire region.

Zone 2 — Casino Island:  The entire region needs money, and the fastest way to get there is through pulling in tourists and separating them from their cash.  I will build tons of fire stations and police outlets to fight crime and prevent outbreaks and create lots of transportation hubs.  One bus terminal can successfully serve all the zones.  The workers from the coal and oil side will come here to spend their money and we will send them police and fire as needed.  Some shopping will be provided as well.

Zone 3 — Bedroom Bluff:  This is where most of my people will live.  Lots of trees and schools and hospitals.  They will have to commute to shop and work, but that’s okay, because there’s no place like home.

Zone 4 — Commerce Village:  This is the shopping zone.  Lots of stores.  Big money made here.  Recycling center and water treatment will be done in this place.

Zone 5 — College Haven:  I will center the schools here and I will build a big research university along with a sports stadium and expo center.  The keen thing about this game — in private play or social play — is that once one zone earns an upgrade, that upgrade is available for all zones!

Zone 6 — Worldwide Trading:  This will be a transition zone for Zone 1.  Clean energy.  Big HQ business buildings.  Trade depots galore.  As Zone 1 chokes and fades its oil and mineral deposits, this zone will provide clean energy for the region and Zone 1 will become a giant park for the region in its retirement.

Zone 7 — Wonders of the World:  All the cool things in SimCity that are unique and special and “Top End” attractions.  A livable cultural center.

I only wish I could start building my zones today!  I will have to be a bit more patient and wait for SimCity to come to me and my Mac.


  1. David,

    What are your thoughts on the fact that even when you are playing single player mode you have to be constantly online and connected to their server to protect their DRM? I have read that a ton of players have not even been able to play for more than a few minutes before getting disconnected while playing solo because their servers are getting overwhelmed by demand.

    1. The DRM requirement that you are online to play is the new way of the online gaming world, I fear.

      Game makers used to be able to require a physical CD or DVD in your local drive to run the game — but new computers today are all “online” and physical drives are déclassé. Game companies need some way to verify you actually bought the game, and right now DRM online server verification is the only way to do it.

      The jinx is that we are no longer buying games — we’re just renting them — and if the internet goes “off” or if EA goes out of business, just like SuperPoke Pets, we will no longer be able to play the game and all the money we spent is gone with the tornado.

  2. I’ve been wary of this game so far because of the dreaded error messages, but these screencaps look great. Even though I hate that nowadays we “rent” games instead of buying them, I have a feeling I’m going to give in!

    1. The server problems don’t bother me that much — I’m sure they had no idea how intensively people would play the game — and adding capacity solves the problem. If the game were glitchy on its own with lots of bugs, I’d be worried. We live in the days of the Open Beta That We Pay For! SMILE!

      The game is truly beautiful, and fast, and it plays really well — at least that’s what all the live playthrough videos suggest — even with the server going on and offline.

        1. I can understand why your friends like the game. It is empowering in many ways and quickly teaches you how a successful city must be operated. If you make a mistake, it will only cost you “money” and not real lives, and you can go back and bulldoze different ideas until you find a scenario you want to explore.

          I’ve learned the “natural disasters” you earn are one good way of leveling an area without having to pay for it!

  3. It looks so different from the last Sim City that I played. I wont be getting it though because od the DRM requirement – I am looking for a game I can play off line. I got very excited about Diablo III – until I tried it – not only did it not like the iMac – my shed connection to the cyber world is via a “mobile pen” which made it ludicrously expensive and very difficult for me to stay connected for any length of time.

    1. We probably played the same SimCity — and this one is definitely new in feel and tone. I really like the changes. The challenge is to build cohesion. Sure, there are still fires and criminals, but the overall arc of the game is not having to deal with those everyday annoyances. You win by building the Big Picture and that is much more interesting to me than just playing day by day.

      What games can you play offline that are new? Aren’t all of your Facebook games played online? Did you meet Mr P playing an online game or a game that you play alone? SMILE!

      This is the second time you have mentioned a “mobile pen” — and none of us over here have any clue what you mean! Pictures! Writing! Article!

      1. I used to play Diablo II before I found facebook along with another wonderful game that I can not rememebr the name of now ………….. both of which were played without the internet. My Facebook games are down to two – and will soon be down to one – you may get a post about that one asit has really ticked me off ………..

        Fair point about meeting Mr P while on lone playing a game – but in fairness I was only there to talk to someone else and not really playing the game ! Tribal Wars World 10 took two years of my life !

        WIll do a quickie on my mobile pen – I suspect you call it a USB something or other !

  4. I enjoyed this very much. I have never really been a Sims fan but this games does seem to offer a little more. I also enjoyed that you already have your zones mapped out for when you finally get the game. I am also guilty of planning out completely mapping out what I’ll do when I receive a new game.

    1. I’m not big on the Sims, either. In this SimCity version, you can follow individuals and cars throughout the day. That’s pretty neat if you want a micro view of your city.

      By watching others, I’ve learned you need to have a Big Plan. Your first Zone will have to be pretty much self-sustaining, with a little bit of everything just to start generating your first cash flow.

      Subsequent zones can have less of all that and be more specific, but you’ll still likely need to provide at least minimal basic services even though you can share events and resources and people across zones.

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