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Review: SimCity

December 18, 2008
Overview SimCity Players - remember SimCity 3000? Pretty much everything you had in that game, you’ll have in this one. Go have fun. For those of you unfamiliar with the Sim series, you’ll be taking the reins of a burgeoning city. You zone the land for residential, commercial, or industrial construction, build roads, power grids, waterways, and more. It’s a great deal of fun, and fairly easy to pick up the basics of. I flat out loved this game.


  • (Multi)Touch Controls
Whereas on a computer you had to point and click, on your iPhone you just have to point. The controls work marvelously for this game - any unintended zoning can be edited before you confirm the construction. Pinching to zoom is also possible.
  • Great UI
The Menus are laid out in such a way that they don’t take up a large amount of screen real estate. Every option is only a few touches away.
  • Sim Sense of Humor
One of the hallmarks of Maxis games is the somewhat silly sense of humor lent to all the text and dialog in-game. This is intact in the iPhone version. I chuckled every few minutes due to the ticker at the bottom of the screen.

  • Save Often... Or Don't
No matter what happens, it seems that whatever you’re doing will be autosaved when you exit SimCity and your game can be continued from the Main Menu. If you’re about to embark on a risky social experiment with your sims, though, there’s a standard save feature.


The Good: This is essentially a port of SimCity 3000. This is a good thing, as SimCity3k was incredible and was what got me into the Maxis line of games. The better news is that it’s a GOOD port. They’ve completely overhauled the UI to work on the iPhone and the results are good stuff. Controlling the game, getting around the map, and navigating the menus is a breeze. This is the first time I’ve seen a game made for another system made into a functioning, fun-to-play game for the iPhone. The fact that this has been done opens up a ton of possibilities, and I’m looking forward to them.

For the SimCity uninitiated - this game is incredibly full-featured. Various city advisors will offer their advice, petitioners will annoy you about city policies they want changed, disasters will randomly strike (don’t worry, this doesn’t happen that often) and you’ll be tasked with balancing the budget to the best of your ability. If most of the games you play are on your iPhone, you might be a little overwhelmed by this game at first, but there’s a helpful tutorial that’ll get you on the right track.

I have always enjoyed the aesthetics of Maxis games - the music is usually great and the menus and graphics usually look fantastic. This one is no exception. One of the things I’m so happy about with this game is that it made it to the iPhone with its spirit intact, which I imagine must have taken a little work. The gameplay is the same mix of strategy and planning as the original, and it is still just as hard to avoid spending your way into a deficit. The Bad: There is some slowness when navigating the menus. This didn’t detract from the gameplay much, but it was there. Users on the app store have mentioned some crashes and bugs like buildings disappearing, but this seems to be infrequent. I did not experience any problems like that. To be honest, there’s not much that I experienced in my time with this game so far that I really disliked.


The $10 price tag may steer the more casual iPhone gamer away. Let me assure you, it’s well worth your $10. This is one of the best, most impressive games I’ve played on my phone to date. The sheer amount of content and replay value here are enough to warrant a purchase, and the fact that it’s really fun should seal the deal. Get thee to the app store, and if you have any tips on keeping a new city in the black, let me know.

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