SimCity intro does a flyby

Posted by CB Droege

EA Games has released a cinematic intro for the city-builder reboot.

EA’s last attempt to profit from their SimCity license was a dismal failure. SimCity: Societies was a terrible mockery of the genre. It seems they learned their lesson, however, because this new game in the franchise, an attempted return to the SimCity roots, looks better and better with every bit we learn about it. With the release quickly approaching, the giant games studio has been ratcheting up the promo machine. The latest drop is a reveal of the game’s opening cinematic:

This is what will play - minus the ad at the end - before the title screen when one launches the game. It gives a good sense of the various styles and aesthetics one can incorporate into their cities. It all looks great to me, and I’m certainly looking forward to playing the game, but the title is not without critics, even with months left until release.

Many have pointed out that the DRM for the game will be rather restrictive. Players will have to be connected to EA’s Origin game servers in order to play, and save games will be stored remotely. While this may be restrictive compared to past SimCity games, it is about on par with the DRM for other modern games.

Still others point to the games’ art style. It’s certainly not hyper-real, but the design team has admitted that they were going for a look that would make the town appear like a scale model set, rather than like an actual city. Personally, I like the look, but some call it bubbly or cartoony. That’s all a matter of taste, of course.

The real feature to be looking at here, however, is variety. The game strives to recreate the classic SimCity mechanics, sure, but with much more granular decision-making on the player’s part, and with a more detailed engine which can produce a wider set of possible circumstances to challenge the player.

Players of this new game will be able to drill down into individual residents’ lives, and each one is independently simulated, rather than run by algorithm.

For example, in past games, if you had only one road between the residential and industrial segments of town, the game would use its formulas to determine that the section of road should be congested during certain times of day, based on the population of the town, and the percentage who are employed in the Industrial sector, which is in turn based on the education level of the population and their ages.

In the new game, each resident will move in and search for a job that matches their skills, and then, if they find a job, they will actually walk out to their car, and drive into work - or take the bus or subway. If too many people are going to work over the same roads at the same time, it will become congested naturally.

It’s an entirely different way of approaching city simulation, and every aspect of the engine functions at this level of detail; something we’ve never seen before. Now we just need a reboot of SimTower using the same methods.

SimCity is slated to hit the shelves in March 2013. EA’s Origin will be required to play. The game can be preordered now over on amazon.