- Platform: Windows 98 / 2000 / Me / XP
- ESRB Rating: Everyone
- Media: CD-ROM
SimCity 4 functions much like its predecessors. You've got the power to zone land as residential (green), commercial (blue), and industrial (yellow). You control the budget. You decide where to place crucial services like police, fire, medical, and even utilities like power and water. You place schools, parks, roads, water towers, and scenery as you accede to the many demands of your Sim citizens. Do a good job and your city will grow and the money will flow into your coffers. Do a bad job and the people will pack up and move away, leaving your city treasury in horrific debt and landing you what the game cheekily considers to be a far easier job: senator. The game requires a balancing act that takes both planning and a persnickety nature. There are charts to read, reports to watch, and, above all, needs to juggle. It's rewarding when it all comes together, and frustrating when you fail, once again, to build anything worthwhile.
That's why I wish the game came with a better manual. The included book glosses over most major information and then neglects important aspects, such as the RCI indicator (which explains zoning needs) and parts of the budget. At the very least, the manual should include tips on handling debt. There are two tutorials which cover the basics, but again, they won't help you get out of trouble once you get in too deep. You can find this information in the strategy guide, which is sold separately, but you really shouldn't have to go that route.
The graphics are amazing, showing a vibrant metropolis with scurrying traffic, wandering Sims, smoking chimneys, and sparkling lights when night falls. Fireworks reward each year of service. And wait until you see the cool disasters you can unleash if the mood strikes you--fire, lightning, tornado, volcano, and giant robot. Oddly, there's a significant performance hit even on fast systems. Thankfully, the stuttery scrolling and slow-to-respond zoom don't hurt the game too much since you can pause it at will or fast forward if you need to wait for your cash reserves to build. The most significant flaw is that the game only offers one save slot, which discourages experimentation.
Despite minor imperfections SimCity 4 is an awesome game. You can build several cities next to each other on the map and make them dependant on each other. (You can build the greater L.A. area, in other words.) You can even import your Sims from The Sims to live in your city. Such familiar characters can tell you a lot about what your city needs. Put simply, city planning has never been this fun, this challenging, or this deep. --Andrew S. Bub
By playing style, "SimCity 4" Follows the same patterns in a lot of ways like the SimCity 2000 games. You lay down zones; let it be industrial, commercial, and or residential. You also have to manage the city's fiscal status as well, by making sure your city doesn't fall into the pits of debt, passing ordinances that benefit the city...at a cost, and making it thrive by fighting crime through police stations and jails, fighting fires by building fire stations and dispatching fire engines, and educating your citizens with schools, colleges, and museums along with numerous other things.
On a positive note this game is a HUGE quantum leap forward from SimCity 2000 in almost every way. There are two main reasons for this. First, the actual details are stunning! Now buildings, and houses look like real structures and the street systems are much more realistic instead of looking like a hodgepodge of shapes like some of them did on SC 2000 from many years ago. The landscape looks so incredibly amazing too. Now it looks like a real actual landscape whether it be hilly, a peninsula, or plains, it's absolutely amazing! My favorite is elevated plains (I.E. Texas Panhandle) right next to large mountains (Going from Amarillo to around central New Mexico). Absolutely amazing!! The best part of this game too is not only the improvements on the graphics and landscapes but the background music. Although some may write it off as background music but some of the music for this game is so good that I would go the distance to say that it's actually rip-worthy! I never thought computer music would actually sound this good!! It sure sounds light years above the cheap pop fluff that most corporate recording studios seem to throw out like hamburger packaging. The sound effects too are absolute amazing to listen to as well.
Unfortunately, "SimCity 4" suffers from some serious problems some of which eat away at the ratings I give this. The manual instructions are very inadequate, and only scratch the surface of the scope of this game. Also the game itself runs incredibly slow, even on the more advanced computer systems. The best way to temper this problem is to set the details to "low". The greatest fault I have with this is how some of the streets actually lay out. For example, It's a real pain trying to get a good street system because of problems trying to make them diagonal. Plus trying to get certain railroad crossings is absolutely a pain in the neck! the other one is the appearance of those much dreaded "No Job" tags that appear over my buildings (Indicated by a suitcase in a red slash circle) and I had to unleash a tornado to wipe them out as oppose to see them go neglected and abandoned. I don't mean to sound like a "Twisted Metal" game maniac but I'd rather see a whole neighborhood reduced to total debris from tornadoes or burned down to the ground than to sit there with those exasperating "No Job" zots hanging over the structures.
The disasters are the usual although there are a couple of new ones. My favorite is the "Robot Attack" where you can send down a ten story alien robot on your unsuspecting Sims when they start getting out of dodge and throwing giant explosive dinner plates. It's especially a riot when the exploding dinner plates actually fly off the edge of the city and crash wwwaaay down below in some unknown dimension!! The other new disaster is the volcano. Hey if you love the 1997 movie "Volcano" you will love this one too!!
I have come to really understand the anger that this game has inflamed due to the massive memory requirements for this game to run and let me tell you, this game has had problems even on the most state of the art home computer systems and even a friend who got a brand spanking new computer for this game had problems with the game running at a cold molasses pace even when other programs were dumped off the computer. The same problems are what killed "Civilization III" for me after the dynamite "Civilization II" which I thought was and still think is a really awesome game. I've had the same problems with this game to the extent that I can't help but feel rather disappointed with this because the unacceptably slow pace just takes the fun out what otherwise have been the greatest game in the universe.
A Great, and the only, city simulation game for the computer. This latest installment boasts the best graphics and special effects in the series, as well as more detail in the area of micromanagement.
Graphics, sound, music, dynamic visualizations, disasters
Awful terrain editing machine, railroads do not operate properly, streets and railroad tracks cannot bridge over each other or cross at odd angles on the city grid (although this problem should be corrected in Rush Hour), seaports and rail connections are a pain to get working properly, city areas are much smaller than in previous versions.
Overall a great game, but not much better than Sim City 3.