Though not as old as time per se, the SimCity series certainly feels like it’s been around since the first computer was turned on. The mainly PC city-builder even has a console lineage going all the way back to the Super Nintendo. Until somewhat recently, each release would get more complicated, but lately the developers have been scaling back the difficulty for newer players. SimCity Creator for the DS is the most recent Sim game to fall in line with that approach.
The gameplay’s exactly like what the core SimCity experience has always been. You start with a big open area, a blank page if you will, and then build places for people, or Sims anyway, to live. But just because you put an area to build houses on the map doesn’t mean people will live there. They need roads, places to buy stuff and to go to nearby. Proper planning for city growth is the key, and you feel like a happy little deity when you see people building where you want them to. Can you beat the Urban Sprawl?
So you get exactly what every SimCity before it has offered. What’s different? Firstly, instead being set exclusively in modern times, you bring your town through several time periods and different nationalities, starting with the hunter/gathering times up to the Tivo/Hot Pocket times and beyond. They each play similarly, but it’s nice to have the different architecture in your city. Also, each era has different problems to overcome, be it lacking fresh water, need for electricity, or global warming; all creating a distinct feel for their times.
SimCity Creator aims for approachability starting with the heavily guided main game mode, Challenge. As the very Will Wright-looking Mr. Maxis introduces the game, he explains how to play. It starts simple, but as each new concept is introduced, progress stops instantly for the explanation, and it begins to happen all the time. It would great if we could just watch our city for three minutes without having to hear about a Desalinization Plant. Plus, the game has a bit of the overly-cutesy MySims aesthetic to it, though the city itself looks pretty plain.
Though you can shake off the shackles of explanation in the Freeplay game mode, you can only create towns in the periods you have completed in Challenge, so you’re unable to avoid the hand holding altogether. Other modes include exchanging pics of your cities with other players and not much else in the way of fluff. Ultimately, SimCity Creator doesn’t offend and isn’t bare bones, but it’s definitely made for those new to the series than for those who were into it way before The Sims.
Oct 15, 2008