Visual: Free-roaming camera
Gameplay: City building / construction simulation, Managerial / business simulation
Published by: Broderbund Software
Developed by: Maxis Software Inc.
Sometimes I wonder how much we lose by not being able to look at things with the eyes of a pioneer. We will no longer be surprised by the miracle of the telephone, we will not be impressed by the "Arrival of the train", but once a live picture was something from the realm of fairy tales! Even the former symbols of progress - a car or an airplane - are unlikely to amaze us. Here is this exhibit too ... "a banal urban simulator." Is it possible to go back to a time when this genre had no name - for the simple reason that it was only represented by this game? When was the very idea of building roads, houses, power plants and ports with airports on a computer screen still fresh and original? Well, it's not easy, but you can try!
So, it's 1989 in the yard. A personal computer at home is: “Wow! You are an engineer?". And a computer game is a curious curiosity of the form: “Wow! Will you show me?" A person is able to admire some monochrome checkers only because a thinking machine is playing with him. Super Mario rumbles in the world (the man runs, jumps, there is music!), people play text quests with almost no pictures (like a book, only you are the hero!), and sixteen colors are very beautiful graphics!
And then it comes up for sale. SimCity, a game in the God-sim genre (what else: in a couple of years the first RTS Dune II will be released, so it will also be called God-sim. God of harvesters. Heh ...). On the screen we see land, forests, water. Everything is clear, beautiful and recognizable. On the left is a visual control panel: press the "road" button, move the cursor over the map, and the road is being built! We press the "wires" button ... hmm ... and there is also a power plant. You can do everything that the mayor's office usually does in the city, for example, create transport and energy infrastructure, lay out parks, mark the land for commercial, industrial and residential development (these three zones are marked in blue, yellow and green respectively - the color legend will survive to this day ). What exactly will be built on the plots will be decided by the invisible inhabitants themselves (depending on the level of crime, traffic and the proximity of other buildings). At first you will see only small houses, then, if the city develops, the houses will grow to skyscrapers. The needs of the residents must be listened to, and the graphs will always show what type of development is needed most now. Among other things, the city needs the police and the fire department: a high crime rate and uncontrolled fires do not bode well for either the city or the mayor. Over time, residents will ask for an expensive stadium, industry for ports and railways, and commerce for an airport. The construction and maintenance of facilities draws from the funds of the city, which are replenished in only one way: property taxes. Taxes can be raised at any time, just do not get carried away - the inhabitants will scatter. It should be noted that not all buildings will be available to you initially: the new game starts in 1901, so don't be surprised if you can't build an airport or a nuclear power plant right away. They will be invented later. Disasters also happen in the city: either a fire, or a flood, or a tornado will rush, or a plane will crash. But the only thing you can really influence is the speed at which fires are extinguished (it depends on the efficiency of the fire department), so for the most part, disaster management will be reduced to eliminating the consequences. But here it is in the year 2000, the city has turned into a huge metropolis, the worst problem of which is no longer the budget, but traffic jams constantly arising on the roads from small blue cars. What's next for the mayor? Did you notice the DISASTERS menu at the very top? Yes, even if SimCity is not a pure god simulator, but something divine is available to us. So, a bored mayor can arrange a couple of arsons in the city, cause a tornado or an earthquake. And if it becomes completely boring, you can pick up Godzilla himself from the nearest river and watch him crawl around the city, solving the problem of traffic jams in a radical way. Sometimes this spectacle fascinates no less than urban planning.
There is no goal as such in the game, and it is impossible to win in it. However, there are time-limited scenarios with a specific task (this will also be adopted by subsequent series). It looks like this: here is the city of Detroit in 1972, here are the problems of "crime and industrial stagnation" and the task of "solving these problems in twenty years." Depending on your results by the end of the term, the computer will decide whether you won or lost. Most of the cities here are real, but the events are divided in half between real and fantastic. So the bombing of Hamburg in 1944 and the earthquake in San Francisco coexist with the appearance of Godzilla in Tokyo. There is even one mission where you have to cope with the consequences of the accident at the Boston nuclear power plant back in 2010. The date itself smacks of fantasy: they say that then everyone will have video phones at home, and we will carry portable communicators with the computing power of a modern laboratory supercomputer (don't ask why). And it will be possible to call a person even from the bus! And there will be a worldwide computer network. Imagine, it will be possible to play chess, say, with a Tokyo man! Western science fiction writers, what can you take from them? Tomorrow they will say that by the year 2001 the Union will fall apart into republics, and we will have President Vladimir Vodkin ... no, no, Dmitriy Medvedev!
Summary: It's hard to rate the great-grandfather of the genre. SimCity was the start of a whole galaxy of successful games with the prefix "Sim-", and much of what he brought to the gaming industry, we have long taken for granted. The graphics are ancient EGA, but the models are carefully made and more than beautiful for their time. Sound is the granddaddy of the "PC speaker"... but SimCity isn't played for all that. In general, the game can be recommended to a contemplative gamer for whom the process is more important than the result. SimCity is simple and unpretentious, it does not load the player with a lot of indirect data, and perhaps this is the secret of its popularity.