Before the abysmal 2013 version of SimCity and Colossal Order took over the crown for making the best city-builder with the wonderful Cities Skylines, Maxis were kings of the genre and Sim City 4 was top dog. From building a utopian mega-city that real-life city planners can only dream of, to knocking it all down again with thousands and thousands of disasters, SimCity 4 had it all.
First of all, the game let you terraform the map to your heart’s content. It was easy enough for me to just waste half a day trying to make a cool volcano island for the hundredth time. But really the freedom in being able to shape the landscape, from mountains to rivers, was a fantastic feature and so it was a terrible mistake for Maxis to not include it in SimCity.
The freedom in being able to shape the landscape was a fantastic feature.
After that of course you had the building of the city. Starting off first with roads, before zoning some residential, industrial and commercial areas as well as putting in a few utilities and services, then all of a sudden you had a steady base from which to grow your city. From building a sleepy farming village in the mountains to a gigantic city of New York-size proportions, the world was your oyster.
Another fun feature of SimCity 4 came from the Rush Hour expansion pack which let you control vehicles, like trains, helicopters and buses, and complete some missions to unlock reward buildings quicker. One of the missions which I still remember to this day was taking a medical helicopter and giving Jenny “a hand and a heart”, as the game put it. Helicopters were always the most fun thing to control, because of the freedom in being able to look around your city – as long as you dodge any skyscrapers. Road-based vehicles were a lot more difficult to control and travel around in, normally because you messed up when haphazardly placing your roads. With bad planning it was easy enough for the traffic became such a nightmare that you often ended up going off-road in frustration, crashing your car into the river, and failing the mission.
Seeing the population number plummet as you thump your town with a ton of meteors could bring an immense sense of joy, which is kind of disconcerting when you think about it.
Of course, though, half the fun of the game is to destroy your city. Just a click and boom a volcano has just enveloped your neighbourhood. Seeing the population number plummet as you thump your town with a ton of meteors could bring an immense sense of joy, which is kind of disconcerting when you think about it. But nevertheless, until disasters were added recently into Cities: Skylines they were a big miss.
Now taking the nostalgia glasses off, while the game was a blast to play it did have a few issues, normally with the performance on even a semi-decent PC. Nothing was more annoying than for your cities’ progress to vanish after your game crashed. Although at least you can load the game back and calm down by taking your frustrations out on the city as you destroy it.
Despite these issues though this game will always be fondly remembered by me for the chance to play god and just do what you want to do.