Yes, that’s right, singular. This was the early 90s; it was wheeled between classrooms on a trolley and played a selection of blocky educational games about as engaging as a marketing pamphlet about sensible shoes. Later, there were computer rooms, but we certainly didn’t have mobile phones to consult on any given enquiry. FBI agents on TV had mobile phones; kids at school did not. Teenagers didn’t have an important reason to warrant getting one. That last part hasn’t really changed.
Anyway. The point I’m underlining is how widely available information is. With the powerful array of devices often only a tap from the internet, we’re more plugged-in than ever. Access to incredible resources like Wikipedia have revolutionised autodidactism and even regular taught education. Thanks to the concept of crowd-content, you can find videos about any kind of esoteric thing you are trying to do; from upgrading Nerf guns to learning when to omit the phrase “watashi wa” in Japanese.
So you may have heard there’s a new instalment of the legendary Sim City franchise freshly released. You may also have heard that it is havingproblems. And yes there’s probably a fair amount of drama thrown into the mix; after all, everybody loves a good train-wreck and EA Games is about as popular as the Child Catcher at a PTA meeting (and they’ve only got themselves to blame). I certainly have little patience for the game’s constant excuses, having cancelled my own pre-order as soon as I realised it stank of Origin. And I think the main reason they decided to shamelessly rip off a previous title is because they realised calling it Sim City 2013 might be admitting it’s a whole 987 iterations below Sim City 3000.
In any case, it would appear it’s time move on to something better. But what are the options for a modern Sim City game? An obvious first choice would be their contemporary competitor Cities XL. Despite being for the most part a Sim City wannabe, the most recent version is still much closer to what SC2013 should have been; fully customisible, massive plots of land and all the sort of infrastructure and zoning you’ve come to expect from these games (as opposed to those Duplo city playsets on Facebook that call themselves games, like Sim City Social or Cityville).
It’s been a while since my last run-in with the digital plague. However it is no less cathartic to play Retrovirus, a neat little resurrection of the 6-degrees-of-freedom-shooter. The game tasks you with seeking out and eliminating the dirty purple globs of stylised virus, which are running amok in your computer’s pristine starship-like virtual space.
Despite being continually trumped by Google, Microsoft are intent on having their own search engine, Bing. This search engine also has its own map tool; little surprise there, to be honest. I was however intrigued by one of its features: Bird’s Eye view, looking at the satellite map at an angle reminicent of isometric tycoon games.
Despite limited coverage and rather shoddy image-tile caching, I rather enjoyed the new perspective on things. It might not be as useful as Streetview, but I like to think of it as complimentary rather than a replacement. I recommend checking it out, if only to pretend you are playing the next Sim City.