SimCity's offline play is the perfect definition of "too little, too late"
Offline play is coming to SimCity, almost a year after the game's less-than-stellar release. Better late than never, right? Wrong. For me, and I'm sure many other gamers, this is coming too late. It's something that should've been in the game from launch, but Maxis and EA insisted upon the always-online requirements due to cloud-computing needed for the game's features, when in actuality it was all a lie.
SimCity could function offline. EA and Maxis chose not to have it offline. After one of the worst launches for a game that I've ever experienced -- one that included taking features away to stablilize the game, only to point to more flaws with AI, traffic and the design itself -- it's taken this long for EA and Maxis to start to make the game what it should've been to begin with -- a single-player game offline with the option to play online in multiplayer.
The problem is that I've moved on. When I bought SimCity, I expected to be able to play a game. And for weeks I wasn't able to. Even when I was, there were so many bugs that the game wasn't even fun. It was impossible to manage traffic because of logic flaws. Maxis had so many problems on their hands -- including unstable servers -- that I started to look at other flaws with the game. My biggest problem was that it wasn't the SimCity I knew. It was a SimCity built to battle video game piracy. I could no longer have a huge metropolis that was the shining beacon of what a massive city could be. No -- I was restricted to a specialization and forced to play the game a certain way. It was a SimCity that lost its identity as the city-management game that tons of gamers loved, shifting into a role as a multiplayer, multi-city reliant sh*t show of bugs with nothing but excuses thrown at consumers for why there couldn't be an offline mode.
See that burning building, this is the metaphorical start of SimCity's problems...
Back in the middle of all of these issues, Maxis general manager Lucy Bradshaw said in an interview: "An online interconnected world has been part of our design philosophy since day one," she said. "It's the game that we've been wanting to create since SimCity 4 as we've wanted to explore the dynamics between cities as they exist within regions. Real cities don't exist in bubbles; they specialize and trade resources, workers and more.
"With the way that the game works, we offload a significant amount of the calculations to our servers so that the computations are off the local PCs and are moved into the cloud. It wouldn't be possible to make the game offline without a significant amount of engineering work by our team."
Kotaku, however, debunked that claim when they were able to play the game in offline mode without check-ins. And a Maxis insider told Rock Paper Shotgun that a server was not necessary for actual gameplay.
And this is the current metaphorical state of SimCity's problems
Through the lies, excuses and constant issues, as well as gameplay that I felt was generally not enjoyable due to design choices, I stopped caring about this game. For me, SimCity never happened. It isn't installed on my PC and just sits away gathering digital dust in my Origin library. There's so many more games I'd rather play and dedicate time to than SimCity, which broke my heart and was an utter disappointment. Even with offline play, I've moved past this game. I'd rather wait for a new SimCity that doesn't have limitations on how big your city can be and what it can do.
But, like all of you, I'm most interested in seeing how this will affect Polygon's -- what is it now, fifth? -- review of the game.