SimCity 4 A First Look

The venerable SimCity series will soon be back in a new incarnation, SimCity 4.  Before you even build your first city, though, you'll see that it is not your typical SimCity.  SimCity 4 will include a landscape sculpture tool that will give you more control over the site of your future city than ever before.  Instead of simply setting the individual elevation of grid points, you'll be able to sculpt mountains, carve gorges, plant forests, and more.   You'll be able to create places for future bridges to span or ideal sites for isolated mountain suburbs before a single brick is laid in the creation of your new city.

Once your city begins to take shape, you'll find that SimCity 4 has taken great strides to make your cities come alive.  You'll see construction crews at work, commuters on their way to and back from their daily grind, and the party crowd hit the streets after dark.  Traffic patterns will change as your city grows, and as each day progresses.  More than ever, you'll feel that your city is a living, breathing creation.

Your cities in SimCity 4 will also be able to speak to you.  You'll be able to see problems reflected in your city itself.  Whether going through a boom time or suffering from neglect or decay, your city's buildings will change to reflect what is happening.  Its a great way to give you immediate visual feedback on your city and saves you the trouble of pouring over statistical charts to look for problems.

In SimCity 4, you'll also be given greater control of your city.  Place skyscrapers together to form a downtown, and build mansions in the foothills overlooking your city.  You'll so have the power to set local budgets, insuring that redevelopment funds go where they are needed.  You'll be able to dispatch police cruisers to crime scenes and fire trucks to infernos ... and watch them arrive on the scene and perform their duties.  You'll even have your own personal mayor's limo now, so you can go and check things out for yourself.  More than ever, you'll be an active participant in the growth and life of your city.

Previous SimCity games were all known to throw a disaster or two at your city during play, and SimCity 4 carries on that tradition.  The difference this time around is that you'll have a chance to try and contain the disasters as they are happening.  For example, you'll can try to cap a volcano as it is erupting - just be wary that you may cause the lava to come up elsewhere.

It would have been pretty easy to take the old SimCity series and provide it a graphical facelift, but the game's designers are going much further than that.  Expect SimCity 4 to be far more a city simulator than the real estate management focused prior games in the series, and expect a far more personal experience this time around.  If you think that you fell in love with the cities you created before, just wait until you play SimCity 4.