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A Behind Closed Doors Look At Maxis' City Builder
by Bryan Vore on Jun 07, 2012 at 07:04 AM

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Platform PC
Publisher Electronic Arts
Developer Maxis
Rating Everyone 10+

SimCity has been out of the limelight for awhile, but now it's poised to return with many enticing features.

The first thing called out in the demo is the fact that the cities all have people and vehicles zipping about all with real places to go and things to do. The devs exhibited this by laying down a new (curvy!) road and plopped several houses along it. Almost instantly little construction trucks drove up and workers built the structure quickly. A "for sale" sign appeared and before long moving trucks pulled up with excited families inside.

For some reason, these people had no problem buying a place with no electricity. Instead of building a plant in the city, Maxis pulled out to regional view, which shows all of your online friends' cities. One friend had made an industrial-focused town with plenty of power to spare. Now it was only a matter of running power lines to the edge of the hometown and the city became fully juiced up. Once it became nighttime, citizens went home and all if the little lights flickered on one-by-one. With impressive dynamic lighting on display, the effect looks fantastic.

Back out to the regional view again, we see that another friend has a tourism-focused city. It's filled with hotels and shops, but it needs a centerpiece to really bring in the business. Maxis plopped a pro sports stadium right in the middle of town and traffic immediately spiked. Light rail stations were placed strategically around town to relieve congestion and handy glowing lines help guide optimal placement -- scaling from green to yellow to red to indicate if your network is stretched too far apart.

What could really help your friend's tourist town now that he has a stadium is an international airport. This will provide more people and resources for everyone in your friends' network as well so everyone can work together to contribute and get it built. One of the key ingredients is raw materials and that falls to the industrial town. It's was already filled with coal mines, but it needed a smelter. They put one in and showed off the new module system that allows players to add on little parts that enhance stats in certain areas.

Even though the industrial city provides an important service to the area, conditions are rough. Pollution is making people sick and crime runs rampant as evidenced by graffiti tags all over the place. For more specific readings, players can switch to a different viewing mode that turns everything white and highlights certain elements in color. This place is loaded with bright red buildings indicating heavy crime. If things go on like this for much longer, criminal activity can leak out to friends' cities. In fact, we head back to the original town and a bright red convertible is cruising down the street with a dangerous rock music blaring out of its speakers. It pulls up to a bank and tiny robbers get out to nab a payday.

Despite these problems, progress on the airport is complete and the demo ends with jets and passenger flights taking off and landing to celebratory fireworks. So far, things look simple enough for a wide audience, yet plenty deep for veterans. And I'm especially pumped for more on this community-style multiplayer system.

For more on SimCity, don't forget to check out the new screens and trailer!

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