Maxis return with another installment of their popular Sim City series. Previously, the Sim City series featured you as the Mayor of a patch of blank land with a sizable amount of cash. With this, you lay out roads and zones of Residential, Commercial and Industrial as well as schools, hospitals and landmarks.
The series moves on further with many new features in place. The major new feature of the title is Region Play. This allows you to create one city, and then work on some neighbouring cities, making it possible to concentrate all your industry in one city, or just housing. It's also possible for a friend to create a city next to yours and help each other to succeed.
Giant leaps have been made in the traffic engine. In previous titles, traffic on roads was just a visual display based on calculations to make it easier for the player. In SimCity 4, it's possible to watch a sim pull out of their driveway in a morning and drive to work, then return later, possibly in thick rush hour traffic!
Graphical advances have taken place, with a new prop system. Previously, each building was a pre-defined building on a tile with fixed trees and objects around it. This is improved upon with the objects around a building being totally different. For example, you could have two adjacent identical houses, but with radically different layouts making them look dissimilar.
Disasters are still in the series, with old favourites such as the tornado around, plus the welcome return of the volcano from the Sim City 2000 Disasters add-on pack. Some disasters have the ability to radically transform the landscape, which could impact on the layout of your city somewhat.
One of the hardest things to work out in the previous games were why some areas had problems. The new My Sims feature allows you to place a sim in a location, who will report back to you on what the area needs, like schools and hospitals. Characters can also be imported from The Sims if you so wish.
Numerous small additions to the game have taken place, such as the ability to place buildings on hilly terrain, allowing for some interesting new cities, and being able to see your city running at night with lamp posts and car headlights illuminating your city.
Maxis hope to have finished the construction of SimCity 4 for the 17th of January 2003. GamesPaper will have the review as soon as they build a road network for us to return!Buy SimCity 4 for the PC from Amazon