[an error occurred while processing this directive] SimCity 3000 Review
– 040399
“Would you like to save this city?”

More of the same may not necessarily be a bad thing.

(If you have played Sim City 2000, you can skip this and go on to the next bit.)

The basic premise of the game is that you are now the mayor of a new city, a very welcome change from having to kill stuff to have fun. Though you are immortal, nobody wants to drink wine from your skull, so your immortality really does not matter.

You start the game by choosing a difficulty level, which affects your starting cash as well as the terrain you will be building on, and the year (1900, 1950 or 2000). The time you start affects the city developments you are allowed, as technology develops; Solar Plants were not around in 1900. If you want an easy time about it, choose Easy difficulty and start at 2000. Unlike other games of similar ilk, since you control a city, not an empire, you cannot in any way speed technological research.

When the game starts, your council of advisors, similarly blessed with longevity as yourself, will tell you of the basics of city building, as well as the problems your city is facing. It pays to listen to them regularly, since when the Sims (Simulated Citizens) themselves complain, your city’s growth would already have been slowed.

As mayor, you will have to bring power to the masses and seek out water in the desert, manage spending and set taxes. Along the way, you get to watch your city grow from a village to a metropolis.

Sounds interesting? The original Sim City spawned two sequels and a host of other Sim Games, so obviously the formula works.

3K vs 2K

Over SC2K, we now have four times more buildings, more rewards (County Courthouse, Lighthouse), more zoning options, improved graphics, better sound and a map four times larger.

Exclusive to 3K, you can designate buildings as ‘Historic’ to prevent them from being replaced as your city grows. You can place landmarks like the Statue of Liberty and the Pyramids, among many others. While they do not affect your city, they are free and do improve the visuals. Other new features include having to handle garbage disposal and the possibility of developing farms. Bonds, that eternal spiral of debt in 2K, have been simplified and replaced with Loans, but sign boards and arcologies have been removed.

A major new feature though, is petitioners. Besides the expected lobby groups complaining about the traffic and your general incompetence as mayor, your neighboring cities may buy or sell you water, power and garbage, or someone from the Big City may offer you money to let them build a structure, like a Maximum Security Prison, Toxic Waste Dump or Casino.

While Sim City 3000 is not to Sim City 2000 what 2000 was to the original City Simulator, it does show enough improvement to be justified as a sequel, offering almost enough new features to make old players consider picking it up. And if you have never tried your hand at being Mayor, here’s your chance.

Gameplay

The graphics are really good; at higher zoom levels, you can see your Sims as they walk or drive about the city. Gameplay itself is smooth, though you may have to wait while you rotate your viewpoint or change your zoom. Saving and loading your games are at a comparative speed with most games nowadays, which is slow if you are using an older computer.

Your advisors hardly tell you enough details to be really useful, like how far Sims will walk to get to a road, or where exactly should you place your train stations. The unevenness of the random terrain does make zoning a hassle, but you can simplify things by choosing to start on terrain based on real cities, some of which are nice and flat, or continue building from pregenerated starter towns.

If you have an Internet connection, the official site, at http://www.simcity.com/, is a really useful resource for players, and certainly worth a look.

The only pity about the game would be its lack of multiplayer capability.

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