|Since the introduction of Sim City Classic in
1989, Maxis has held their place as the foremost creator of successful "Sim"
style games. Building on success, they have expanded their line to include hit titles such
as Sim Earth, Sim Isle, Sim Ant, Sim Farm, and Sim City 2000, which was by far one of
their greatest successes. SC 2000 captured the attention of both the educational and
gaming communities. Since its release in 1993, SC 2000 has been steady racking up sales
for nearly 7 years. Now, as Sim City 3000 hits the shelves, we ask the questions:
"Has Maxis done it again? Have they improved upon a game that seem to have very few
shortcomings?" We the reviewers both think so, but to find out why, read on.
When I first took SC 3000 out of the box, I was greeted by hefty manual, well written and full of useful information. The manual explains both the most basic concepts in SC 3000 and also more complicated ones that arise later in the game. Though it fills only one CD, it seems that Maxis has packed much more onto the disc this time around.
Installing the game was a cinch, but I immediately ran into a small snag when my mouse cursor began blinking erratically and didnt show up properly on the build screen. A quick trip to Maxiss homepage found the solution: I just needed to add a command to the games shortcut, and the problem immediately disappeared. After fixing this minor bug, the game ran flawlessly with no further problems. SC 3000 has resolutions ranging from 640x480 to a whopping 1600x1200. Even at 1280x1024 resolution, I had no problems with panning, slowdown or picture degradation. Though all the major bugs seem to have been worked out, I felt that since the mouse bug was known a note concerning the problem should have been included in the readme file.
Once I got started playing the game, the first thing I noticed was a major improvement in the graphics. All the city views look great, even when zooming in for a closer look at the buildings. Running on my Matrox G200, the game has an excellent color palate, much better than that of SC 2000. The extra graphic effects are most noticeable in the new buildings and animations for the everyday hustle and bustle of your city. It was cool to see cars stop for oncoming trains, and traffic density change depending on time of day and week. All this extra effort truly adds to the game experience and drew me even further into the game.
The sound in SC 3000 is excellent, to say the least. When your city grows into a thriving metropolis, its very cool to hear all the sounds of your city in four-speaker surround. While playing with the screen zoomed in, you can hear a car honking behind you and to the left, while a train is blowing its whistle directly to your right. The Environmental Audio support is excellent, maybe not quite as good as Half-Life, but very good nonetheless. The wonderful audio support, combined with the beautiful graphics, make the game just that much more engrossing.
Elements of the game have been changed in order to streamline play and eliminate some of the more tedious aspects. Zones now lay their own power lines if there are powered zones within a short distance, eliminating the need to manually connect power to every single square. To convey power to remote places, you now build high-tension power lines, which have negative impact on land values nearby. Similarly, water pipes now feed a seven-tile radius around them, allowing you to lay water mains and let the zones water themselves. Also, the newspaper has been replaced with a news ticker, which shows important information at the bottom of the screen without requiring you to click to get rid of it.
Some very nice additions have been made as well. Trash is now generated by Sims, and must be collected and disposed of. There are several ways to do this, including landfills, incinerators and recycling centers, but one of the coolest is to pay your neighbors to haul it away. Or, if you have excess garbage capacity, you can make a healthy profit disposing of your neighbors trash. Other services, such as power and water, can also be bought and sold. Occasionally, independent investors will ask you to host certain buildings, such as toxic waste conversion plants and prisons, in your city while paying you for the privilege. You can generate a lot of extra income this way, but be careful your Sims dont revolt due to pollution or low land values.
One of the most improved aspects of the game is the advisor council. Unlike SC2000, the advisors in SC3000 provide information that you can actually use in making decisions about directing the growth of your city. Issues important to your city are brought to your attention by petitioners, who present them in the main advisors window. The news ticker also displays a message to inform you of petition requests. The great thing is that everyone has a slightly different opinion on everything, so no two Sims (or advisors) will quite agree. This requires you to make decisions about policy, and each decision will impact your city in a different way. The interactions are quite complex and present a vast amount of choices, making for a much richer gaming experience than in previous versions.
There are numerous other additions and changes to the game system. Structures like power plants and water pumps have maximum life expectancies, but their output diminishes as they near this limit. Exceeding the capacity or lifespan of these structures can cause the facilities to explode and starting fires. Landmark structures are present, such as the Eiffel Tower, the Empire State Building, and the St. Louis Arch, of which a maximum of ten per city may be built. There are fewer disasters, but some of them, such as the UFO, are much more dramatic and deadly.
Sim City 3000 is the best sim game to come out in a long time, quite possibly since the release of SC2000. Gameplay has been streamlined and given more depth, graphics are great, and sound is spectacular. If youve ever had dreams of being a mayor or city planner, or have even a passing interest in simulation games, buy Sim City 3000 now. You wont regret it.