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 having problems. 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).
But Cities XL has its drawbacks; for a start it appears that all the plot sizes are the same square area (I’ve owned it in various incarnations for two years and I’ve still yet to see a plot size variation besides the city hall). When you add to that curved roads (yes, I like them; I’m European ok?), it does make unusable areas infuriatingly common for no good reason. It’s a rather pointless limit given that this isn’t on a tiled grid or anything, but thankfully a kind of landscaping “Fill tool” can at least make use of the gaps with pretty groundskeeping. There are other niggles, too, but it’s generally a pretty solid game and one you can play on your own terms (none of this always-online crap).
Another contender worth getting behind is recent startup project Civitas, which is currently building momentum on Kickstarter. Though it’s not actually been made yet, it sounds promising yet achievable and seems to be more in tune with what gamers actually want out of this kind of game. Like all Kickstarter games it rides a dangerous surf and backing it is not the same as buying a game that actually exists; but I think the people behind it have a real potential to make it happen (should it reach its target, that is).
One thing’s for sure though; I’m thoroughly done with buying anything off EA.