I have played the simcity series since years back. I must say that the latest release by EA, Simcity Societies is definitely different especially in terms of gameplay. Is this difference positive or negative? Well, I would say positive for some, negative for others. It all depends on your personal likings and what type of gamer you are. I remembered back then I hated simcity games because they are simply too complicated and hard for my simple mind. When building power stations, you have to connect electrical cables in order to transport electricity to parts of your city. That is not all, water pipes etc all have to be planned properly and build in order for your city to run smoothly. I must admit that I do not have the cut to be a city planner in future. Gameovers are practically promised whenever I start a new game in whichever difficulty. The thing is, Simcity Societies is way different. Its simplistic gameplay and colourful graphics caught my attention and gave me enjoyable hours of fun. Yay for casual gamers, nay for hardcore players.
Simcity Societies presents itself as a rather happy, light-hearted and fun game. As previously simcity games, you got a building menus and have the ability to choose from different categories etc. However this time, Simcity Societies uses a filter system instead of making several sub categories. For example the broad category of housing can be filtered (not subbed. Pretty much the same still I guess) into other categories such as creative houses, productive houses etc. (sounds weird but that is the way it is. No proper name of course but it is something like that.) There are 8 types of resources in the game. First electricity, second money and the six other resources (social energies) namely productivity, prosperity, creativity, spirituality, authority, and knowledge are used for maintenance and the running of buildings. Money for the start-up, electricity for well, obvious running of city accompanying with the six other social energies as well. The game provides a tutorial that is almost useless as it tells the most mundane stuff, but it sure gives you a feel of how different it is from the previous simcity titles. Being much more simple and easier than before that is. Menus are rather simple and effective, nothing much to comment on actually. And the game provides some statistics for you to know more about your own city.
The sound and the effects it creates is easily the best of the game. You can hear your citizens shouting and screaming when they meet with ghosts on the streets, some short and sweet voices when you click on the different citizens and even the rain falling down onto your city giving a slight erm pat pat pat sound? Occasionally you will hear some effects of people beatings someone up or screaming (as mentioned previously) and that is usually triggered when a minor event is happening. When a police catches a thief or so, you will hear the police beating the thief up (if you are nearby). What you expect will eventually come out, making the game sound as realistic as possible. (a building caught fire? Expect yourself to hear the fire burning.) At menu screens you are treated to light hearted music, great for relaxation I suppose. And when different natural disasters occurs, you are in for a treat for the different sounds you are going to hear, and of course the visual effects that you are about to see (will go into next). Overall, if you are not going to enjoy the gameplay (meaning you are a hardcore player. I expect casual players to actually enjoy the game first few hours before feeling bored) you sure are going to enjoy the sound effects you are about to hear.
Colourful, bright and cheerful. Did I say the game was light hearted? That is absolutely right. With the graphics accompanied with the happy sounds, the game is a blast for people who just want a day off from hard tedious work. You know when I first played the game, all my worries seem to have washed away. Amazing but true. I cannot deny how the game has that kind of magical feel whereby it gives you a very soothing and comfortable feeling. Bright and colourful buildings with an additional night scene that is spectacular to the eyes. Not suited for those gamers looking for realism in graphics as the game only hits the passing mark for that. Cartoony, hell yeah! Still, it is not that cartoony but well, let me say a good balance between realism and fantasy? Some disaster is a blast for your eyes. Some details such as animals in your zoos can be seen moving and doing other stuff. Not much details though (the zoo is like one of the exception) but sufficient. Houses have their own variety meaning one single type of house; have 3 different designs to it. (For example. House A will have A1, A2 or A3 to it.) They do not differ much but sure it does make the game livelier and not so monotonous. One disadvantage to the graphics is that the buildings all are too colourful and bright. Yeah I praised it previously and still is but sometimes, some buildings ought to stand out for example the police station or the fire station. Fire! Oh no, you are going to spend some time finding your fire station if your city is huge and filled with buildings. One last note, I find the game too happy that even the supposing creepy haunted castles look cheerful to me.
Three words and a phrase: simple, addictive, weird and never-ending .
Simple – If you are expecting the same way you had to think deeply on how to lay the cables so as to make effective use of your power stations, be prepared to be disappointed. In this latest release, electricity can flow its way to your city and there is no need to worry for water. (It magically produces and no wait, your citizens are supermen because they do not need to drink!) Very simple and straightforward. You need people, build houses. If you need more social energies, find buildings or decorations that increases them. Need money? Build working places. Citizens feel sad? Build venues for them to visit. Yes it is that simple. No need to worry much about placing working places together with houses etc. However there is a bonus if you place different decorations with buildings together resulting in an enhanced value of property as well as revenue if it is a workplace. There is not much a learning curve here and the most difficult difficulty is still a piece of cake.
Addictive – Once you start, it will last for hours. There are many different types of buildings you can build for each of the social energy. You have to have a certain amount of social energy to unlock better and nicer looking buildings and that keeps you going on and on wanting to see all there is. Interesting as you see your city develop into the city you want. Whether is it a polluted city, a city filled with corruption and crime or even a city bustling with activities and business discussions, you choose it, and you build it.
Weird – Sometimes in the game you might start wondering why some buildings give social energies while others deducts them. It is totally illogical and I just figured out that it is best to leave it as it is. An example would be a monastery taking up spiritual energies to work. Wait, don’t they produce them? Alright, perhaps when you have spiritual energies it means you have more holy people or erm, sheesh I really do not know how to explain.
Never-ending – There are no main objectives in this game. The game can go on, and will go on and on and on. You can never lose, I suppose because whatever you do seems to be right. There is no wrong but only right in this game. Even if your citizens all feel sad and stuff, you can call your city a sad city! So there is no such thing as, “hey you have to do that and that”. What you want go ahead. However, the lack of an aim and objective soon makes me bored (and you as well). Sure I am interested in completing the achievements (those are the only well objectives in the game. Gain 10,000 population, 200 creativity etc) and when I do, I am utterly disappointed with what the prize is; A small puny statue taking one block of space. Great! Unlocking the different buildings sure gets me excited and that is what I enjoy the most. But once you unlocked them all, what next? The game will keep going on and soon you will feel bored because there is lack of a purpose. As sad before, this sure is a casual game and will always be. No serious players here, take it lightly and you will enjoy it. NOTE it is common for you to experience drop in frame rate as your city progresses, many other gamers with great computers themselves experience lag. Now, so the never-ending might even turn out frustrating.
It is definitely worthy as a casual game. Get it for the holidays, enjoy it then and you can like keep it for remembrance. Take it out once in a while and play it and you will find that the game is still as fresh as ever. However, if you are those serious gamers who want a challenge, this game is definitely not for you. Take it easy and you will enjoy. Loved the previous simcity series? No you might not like this latest release. It is completely changed and its target audience definitely switched to casual gamers. Casual, casual and even more casual.