As I mentioned in my previous review of SimCity, creativity is at the heart of the long-standing franchise. Yet it’s hard to let your creative juices flow when your nagging citizen demand non-combustible housing and buses that run on time. What is a megalomaniac public servant to do? Simply strip the hard tasks away, and that’s exactly what SimCity Societies does.
Much like Sim City, you start out with an empty plot of land to build your utopia, and as such, you can customise terrain details, like the elevation. From there, you’re on your own. Free to mould a city to reflect your ideals and beliefs. The game lets you craft your ideal paradise, A capitalist Blade Runner inspired tech centre? A romantic retreat? An Autocratic dictatorship, your choice? Veteran city planners will notice a few changes. The advisors have been fired, instead, you get your feedback in terms of individual citizens and graphs with happy faces. Zoning is a thing of the past, you place buildings pre-built, and some come with their own powers. Tricky taxes are gone, with business and special venues paying you daily rates. And utility lines are built into the roads, saving you time and effort in realising your ideal city.
Your sims require buildings that provide three core aspects Jobs, Housing, and Relaxation, each building, aside from the classic simoleons, costs and generates specific currencies. Creativity is a currency, as well as others like Spirituality. Certain buildings increase a currency and certain buildings deplete, the majority do both, requiring you to take on buildings with unwanted trade-offs to finance structures like that awesome theme park you were after. This is how you unlock more advanced buildings, by fulfilling requirements, like spend 50 units of a resource, meaning that those trade-offs may be worth it.
A lot of this is realised in SimCity Societies presentation, there were times I was in awe at the metropolises I created, and as can be expected, the writing is top-notch too! Your citizens are fully realised as Sims 2 era sims, with their unique names, that are fully customisable. The game savours in letting you follow these sims around, there’s a tactical advantage too as you can follow your more dissatisfied residents and observe what part of your grand design is giving them the most headaches.
While Sim City does whittle away some of the complexity from its sister franchise, it does more than make up for it in creativity. Along with adding that tongue-in-cheek writing that made Maxis famous. Ultimately, like most of Maxis god games, serves as a reminder that things would be a lot simpler if everybody obeyed your way. Saving them, and their homes from the wrath of the disaster button.
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