Maxis has been working on SimCity Buildit for an awfully long time, going so far as to scrap their initial design and start again. And while it’s not substantially different from its predecessors, there’s enough new stuff here to satisfy mayor-wannebes everywhere. Rendered in beautiful 3D, SimCity Buildit lets you interact with neighboring cities, gaze at new monuments, and face a host of new challenges. It’s all great fun, displaying the same addictive qualities that have made this series such a success. This is a must-have.
First you’ll notice the revamped graphics. The new buildings are stunning, adding nice variety to your city as each area assumes its own identity. When full assembled, the skyline looks more like a real city, and less like a mass of squared-off Lego neighborhoods. The water flows, the train systems run, and you can follow sims as they go to and from work, go shopping, and enjoy the recreational facilities you have so thoughtfully provided.
The core of the game is still city building, however, and there, everything you’ve come to expect from the series is back in spades. You must deal with power, water, transportation, and zoning; all of them can be taken care of on separate interfaces. Clicking through the various interfaces is exceptionally easy, and placing anything from a tree to the last piece of your intricate subway system takes only a quick touch of the mouse. The only exceptions to this rule are the freeway on-ramps, which are way too hard to manage and build. Unfortunately, these connections become extremely important later in the game, which adds to the frustration.
Managing the needs of your city with financial concerns is once again the backbone of gameplay, and adding to the intrigue this time out is the ability to interact with your neighboring cities. This is a great way to fill the city’s coffers, as you can sell excess power and accept payment for taking others’ garbage; be warned, however, that these deals all carry a possible downside, with stiff penalties for failing to fulfill your side of the bargain.
Other cool additions include monuments, so you can build landmarks like the Empire State Building in an effort to jazz up your skyline. In addition, an easy-to-use building editor is available, which lets you design and create your own buildings; these can then be incorporated into the game. And finally, Maxis has included geographical and building sets, which will let you recreate metropolitan areas like New York City and San Francisco.
When it’s all said and done, SimCity Buildit is not substantially different from the previous games. It maintains the same addictive gameplay style, and adds new several new touches that help keep the series fresh. Both veterans of the series and newbies will find a lot to enjoy.