Reviews// Sim City Deluxe HD

Posted 24 Dec 2010 13:28 by
Simcity has been knocking about in some form or another for 21 years, so itís hardly a surprising that it found itself on the iOS platform in July of this year. In December however EA launched the iPad enhanced version.

Called Simcity Deluxe HD, it does its best to make the most out of the iPad platform by increasing screen resolution quite considerably and hence improving the playerís interaction with the game. That being said, does Simcity sit well on Appleís tablet PC? Or does it play in a similar way it did on the Sega Saturn say, e.g. very badly? Well Iím not going to tell you here now am I? For that would spoil the review!

Stupid is as stupid does
A question that has been asked of me on a few occasions has been: "What is the most stupid thing you have ever done in a video game?" The glib answer I give to this query is, "I started playing World of Warcraft". My real, non satirical answer is: " build a fire station at the end of the runway in Simcity 2000".

Why do I say this? Itís because back in 1994 I was playing Simcity 2000, the grandfather of Simcity Deluxe HD, and Iíd just managed to create an airport in my beloved city. As I did so I remember reading a tip somewhere that said you should have a hospital and a fire station nearby to ensure what when a plane crashes, the emergency services are on hand to put out the resulting fire quickly.

So, I did this, not realising that the positioning of said fire station was quite important and that putting it on the end of the runway was a very bad idea. Sadly, I learned this lesson the hard way by watching a plane smash directly into my lovely fire station and gag in horror as half of my precious city was razed to the ground. All thanks to my abject stupidity. Having said that, it did make me marvel at the level of detail Simcity 2000 had. It is for this reason that the Simcity games are so compelling to play.

We built this city on an iPad
For the uninitiated, Simcity requires the player to create a city using a passive method of Ďzoningí. Each zone comes in 3 types; residential, commercial and industrial. Each of these zones has in turn 3 different densities varying from low to high.

The greater the density, the larger buildings can be constructed within them. This increases the revenue the player gleans from the city via state taxes. The player is also required to create roads and rails to provide transportation to the ĎSimsí that dwell in their city. These form the web around which the city grows, for if a zone that does not have access to a road and/or rail, nothing will be built upon it.

The city also has to be fed with power and water, so these must be provided by installing power stations and water pumps. All of this has to be carefully measured against demand and available budget that is at the command of the player. Yes this sounds incredibly complex, thatís because it is. Thanks however to some very clever game design mechanics and a shallow learning curve, itís very easy to pick up.

Donít say the ĎAí word
Simcity is such a long running franchise that is not likely to go away any time soon. Its premise seems mundane and tedious in the extreme; to manage a cityís infrastructure and growth by balancing budgets and zoning parts of it to maximise the land the players has available.

All of this is done using the age old axioms of risk/reward mechanics that are a key component to any game. Should you get a loan out to buy a stadium to increase the prestige of the city, or should you be frugal and invest in a new school instead?

Simcity is all about making these decisions and living by them, for good or ill. Thatís why you play as the mayor of this fictitious metropolis. It is also why the game is so compelling to play. Thatís right, I said compelling! Weíre not at home to the ĎA.d.d.i.c.t..." word in this review, oh no sirree bob.

Disaster alert! My city is being attacked by a giant thumb! Oh no wait, false alarm; itís my own.

Simcity Deluxe HD is a port of Simcity 2000 with a mix of 3000 thrown in for good measure. Most of the features found in those games are present in this iPad port, but with some notable omissions. There are no neighbouring cities to interact for example.

This is especially odd considering the fact that the iPad is no slouch when it comes to processing power. Despite that the game does come with a lot of features over and above its iPhone/iPod Touch brethren thanks to its interface. It allows the player to Ďfinger paintí their city by drawing on roads, rails and zones by swiping their digits across the screen.
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