SimCity 4 Rush Hour Review

SimCity 4 Rush Hour is a tale of two SimCities, one good and one not so good. Overall this expansion is transportation-themed, but the changes it brings to SimCity fall into two main categories: city enhancements and U-Drive-It. The city enhancements are sure to please most mayors out there, but the U-Drive-It feature that lets you take the controls of many of the vehicles in the game proves to be disappointing.

The label tool is back ... and now you can even name your streets.

In SimCity 4, your transportation network is vital to your cityís success. If your sims canít get to work and industry canít deliver its goods to market, your city will soon fall on very hard times. Unfortunately the game does not give you a lot of feedback on your transportation network outside of the scene of cars backed up on crowded thoroughfares. Without knowing who is trying to get where, your only real course of action is to build more roads or add public transportation until the problem clears itself up. Rush Hour addresses this issue by providing you with the tools to thoroughly analyze your transportation network and with plenty of new options for alleviating traffic problems.

One of the new tools at your disposal is the route query tool. With this tool you can click on any structure and see the traffic coming into and leaving it. Being able to see the routes taken by your citizens is a huge help in developing your road networks as it lets you know where building roads will do your city the most good. The tool will also show you all routes passing through a particular area which is a good way to find the chokepoints in your network.

Knowing where the problems lie is just half the battle. Luckily, Rush Hour includes new features that will let you do something about them. The first thing that you can do is increase the width of your roads and therefore their capacity by turning them into wide avenues. You can also use the trick employed by big cities everywhere for controlling traffic through crowded downtown areas, one way streets. To move larger volumes of cars at higher speeds you can now create ground-level freeways.

Auto transportation is not the only means of conveyance to get upgrades. Elevated trains can move passengers around your city and even hook into your subway network. Monorails can move people above your streets at even higher speeds. On water, ferries can carry loads of commuters across rivers and lakes.

In addition to the new transportation options, the game also includes 10 new styles of bridges and lets you set each bridgeís height when placing it. There is also a new modern European building style set to help give your cities a continental feel. Veterans of prior SimCity games will be happy to see the return of the labeling tool. You can add signposts to your cities to flag neighborhoods, monuments, and buildings and give your cities a bit of character. The label tool has been updated to also allow you to apply labels to streets and land features as well. No you can recreate your favorite city right down to the street names.