I’ll be honest here, which is the least you can expect from a game reviewer. I’m still playing this add-on as I write the review. In fact I’ve started a new city and I’m at 1,400 residents. Not only have I played it myself but I’ve watched others online and I feel I’m now at a stage to review this add-on to the most recent SimCity iteration with as little hypocritical finger pointing to be directed at myself.
Why hypocritical? Because I actually really like SimCity and without spoiling other articles like the fantastic games of the year feature, I am a big fan of the game in itself. However, I feel has been sadly overshadowed by the almost comically poor approach to launch and consumer satisfaction management from EA, that seems to be a problem not just exclusive to SimCity (Battlefield 4 anyone?).
Which is why I’m ultimately left feeling utterly disappointed. I’m from a generation where an add-on pack costs £15. It gives you new levels, it improves upon features that the main game had just got a bit wrong. It basically extended the playing life of that game. SimCity – Cities of Tomorrow tries to do that. It really does try. But I feel it ultimately does not succeed. Here’s why:
Firstly, it doesn’t really bring you anything new to the game. This is partly because additions have already come to the game. They’ve been trickled out slowly and have sweetened a deal that was originally seen as a bit sour. The additional maps and potential buildings that would make this a proper package have already been released. So while there is an excuse for how little this add-on has, it does raise a question of a justifiable price for it.
To explain these additions a little more, the game has gone all high tech. Now there is an additional element in the game you can make called “Omega.” This can lead you down two roads: filthy industrial development and mega income, or a clean high-rise educational utopian vision. There are a few things that have been “futurised” as well. You get to build new Megatowers which are constructed in blocks of different game areas (commercial, residential, industrial, educational, etc) and these correspond to whichever path you decide to go down. Other new buildings include water pumps, cleaner energy/waste disposal and a neat high altitude road for connecting the “Megatowers” you construct in whichever vision you choose.
Which is where I come on to a second point. Visually, the game has always been very good. The Megatowers look stunning. The High wealth academy towers look like beautiful futuristic havens of success, almost like they are right out of the movie Elysium. But personally, I feel they pale in comparison to the dirty, high industrial Omega franchises, which have a air of Blade Runner about them. Dark, dingy buildings splattered with neon and look incredibly imposing and dystopian once put together. Visually the futurised areas also change. New house, industry and commercial building models appear, the roads have a texture that you could use to play Blockbusters on and it all looks rather swell. Even the low wealth houses with laser fences that look like dinosaur pens from Jurassic Park.
The problem though is that this is where the fun ends. Not enough of the game has changed for these really to make a difference to the overall gameplay, or to reinvigorate the gameplay sufficiently. After nearly a year playing the game that has been heavily criticised for its limited scope in building and creating the vast metropolis’s it’s famed for, all this add-on really does is give a slightly fresh lick of paint and another few buildings to try and squeeze in to an already busy and tricky economical system. Cities of Tomorrow integrates in to the existing framework so you start the game, region, road layout, city planning and everything else just like you already would. You then do the slow process of waiting to grow, timing your expansion and how to substitute the wealth factor of your residents. Overall there is zero difference between how you play the game in either the add-on or basic game. At least not enough in the early stages to warrant it being a useful part of the game and even then, it just solves some problems later on at a cost of potential building space.
Which leads me to my final gripe and it’s a gripe for anyone who’s ever heard the name Dr.Vu… You STILL can’t turn it off. Of all the additions that have been released, there is no option to deselect them from your gameplay, this included. Once you’ve installed it, you won’t be able to go back. Of course you can just not select anything from the add on, but the bubbles will pop up, your GUI will be changed and you’ll forever be clicking “No Thanks” while screaming “I DON’T GIVE A FLYING MONKEY’S MATURING INVESTMENT PORTFOLIO ABOUT DOCTOR SODDING VU!”
I’m now at 2,300 residents. The game has also made me demolish a whole row of abandoned houses, which doesn’t seem to be repopulating. My residents are unhappy, sick and I can’t get enough money because the Omega is costing too much in imported materials to produce. I’m stuck in a rather boring looking grid system town with a few trees, a couple of parks and some flat looking shopping areas… I might as well have just visited Milton Keynes.
An outrageously overpriced add-on pack (unless it’s on sale) that adds very little to the game except a lick of paint and a new resource challenge. Completely devalued by the constant release of additional content for free, although it does look rather cool.
– Make your own Blade Runner city
– Rather satisfying clean energy and a few fresh building models.
– Very little change to the game
– Makes other game strategies a bit redundant
– Can’t turn it off
– Too much money.
Why a 5?
Because even though I love the game a lot, even I can’t justify the price for the lack of content and small gameplay life extension it gives.