previews\ Jun 12, 2012 at 10:10 am

E3 2012: SimCity preview


Heading into E3, the big news surrounding SimCity was the new multiplayer feature.  Up until now, SimCity had only been a single-player experience. Cities, however, are always part of something bigger, and that was EA’s goal with the latest installment to the long-running, popular franchise.  They wanted to make it bigger, and they wanted players to interact with other town’s mayors — trade resources, work together for common goals, and thrive off of each other’s cities — like real cities should do.

In our E3 preview, we were shown a few separate, but very distinct towns working together to create an airport, one of several major buildings that can benefit everyone.  The distinct cities, which included a friendly neighborhood, thriving metropolis, and a booming but rundown coal town, each provided the necessary resources to build this airport.  The goal was for each of them to benefit in some way from it being built. 

Outside of them benefiting from the airport, each town relied on the neighbors in some form.  Some of the examples showed to us include one city providing electricity to the other. The multiplayer spreads beyond just providing resources.  The cities relied on neighbors in other ways.  For instance, the metropolis was looking to expand its commerce and retail, but it needed people to run the businesses.  Therefore, it relied on the neighborhood which needed to increase its population to provide the necessary workforce. 

Here is where the airport enters.  In addition to the extra people it would bring in to the newly built stadium, it could help people arrive in the neighborhood suburb.  The airport also allowed goods and resources to be flown in for the coal town.  It may sound complex, but SimCity simplifies everything.

Sim City

From electricity to water pipes to public transit, SimCity says goodbye to spreadsheet numbers and introduces color-coded or other useful symbols to convey the message.  They showed us building an above-ground electrical railcar, and instead of just building tracks, a colorful line showed where traffic would be heavy for the railcar.  Green was good, yellow was medium, and red is heavy.

Multiplayer isn’t the only addition, however.  EA showed off SimCity’s new Glassbox Engine which literally simulates everything going on in the city.  From the street lamps turning on to the street lights switching from red to green, Glassbox simulates everything going on in the city and presents it as if it were real life.  Individual lighting for buildings, cars’ headlights, street lamps, and more are all present in the game.  It doesn’t only simulate lights either.  It simulates sims’ actions.  In our preview, the devs showed us a bank robbery play out as a result to crime from the neighboring city pouring in.

Neighboring cities don’t only help your town, but can also harm it. The coal city focused heavily on production and business, but lacked the necessary police stations. Because of that, the city was littered with graffiti and crime began spreading into adjoining towns. Unfortunately, that friendly neighborhood we saw was right next to the coal town.  As a result, crime began spilling into the streets and the aforementioned bank robbery occurred.

SimCity was already a fun game, but this added multiplayer component just adds a whole new level of interesting gameplay.  You can choose to help or harm friends’ cities.  And it’s not like everyone’s city is the same.  You can choose to make the city you desire.  If you want a bustling city, create it.  Just remember, you need people to work there and that is where the fun begins. There’s an all-new aspect to SimCity, and EA has done a remarkable job incorporating multiplayer.

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