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Review: Sim City Deluxe - What's In A Name?

August 5, 2010


It's your job to create a deluxe city from building the infrastructure to maintaining everyday life. Being a city planner isn't the most luxurious job, but there is plenty of power in doing all the behind the scenes tasks for a bustling city. Sim City may be the most popular sim franchise, and the iPhone version is now deluxe where EA has tried to improve on the mediocre original.


You can start your own city from scratch or use an existing city either complete with population or just the infrastructure. There are seven cities already formed that are based on current or historical famous cities. There is also one scenario for each city to play for specific tasks like preparing England for the Olympics in 2012.

The Good

Sim City Deluxe is a definite upgrade on the original, which isn't saying that much, but it's a great change. The city design at every stage is much easier, and the game is more user and iPhone friendly. It's simple to drag in roads, zones, utilities and more to get your city up and running in no time. The game makes it easy to expand quickly, and it is constantly informing you of potential problems in any management aspect. It's great to see your city grow from humble beginnings to a large metropolis as you manage every aspect overseeing the whole thing. The game always offers something to do, and as you move from task to task the automation in the background builds up the city while you’re working. Building one city from scratch it completely engrossing, and you can find yourself spending a number of hours with it and not even realizing. There is plenty of replayability because there are so many choices that you can change when you play through it again. Then there are the seven scenarios requiring specific challenging tasks to focus on, and you can always start with a pre-built city. The game is really nicely designed to pack all the detail and scale from the typical computer game on to the iPhone screen. As your zones are built up you see each stage of the process, and many of the final buildings are different, and all are bursting with finite detail. There are a number of zoomed ranges that all look good except for the closest one where the objects look a little blurry. The city is constantly animated whether it's the cars, trains, or billowing smoke from industry. Then there are all of the disasters which are especially worth seeing on the pre-built cities. It’s great to see some of the most famous landmarks around the world, and nice that you can incorporate them into your own city. There is a long soundtrack with plenty of variability so that you don't notice the eventual long loop.

The Bad

One problem is that it's very difficult to earn money so you will deplete your initial reserves quickly, and will get a loan to keep expanding. The main way to make money is through taxes though the max you can get is about 8% which doesn't keep up with the cost. The only other ways are through specific initiatives, but they don't pay off very often, and not much of a profit over the cost. When you play you will want to always be expanding, but it simply isn't possible without loans. As you get more people, businesses, and industry you can earn more tax revenue, but they cost even more to keep around. If you cut any of the monthly costs soon you'll have a problem area on your hands, and still only have a monthly profit of at most $100. This just isn't simply enough money to keep expanding your city, but even with a loan that will increase monthly costs even more. There simply isn't a proper revenue stream to keep up with costs of building a city from scratch. The best thing to do is just ignore the money, and have fun with your city because it's all imaginary money anyway. The controls are still problematic which is especially apparent when you're trying to use any type of expandable item. You can't move the camera much if at all when placing those items. It's also very tedious to get it placed just right at the right size, and usually takes a retry to get it just right. The menu system is a bit convoluted, but after playing for awhile you'll know where everything is though there are a few layers to go through every time. Another issue is that Sim City is a large scale game that doesn't play the best on the iPhone, though EA has done a good job of making it manageable. Fingers crossed they can get this game to the iPad with a native version.

The Verdict

Sim City Deluxe is thankfully redesigned, and gives a much more enjoyable experience. Sim City is a classic game that didn't feel right on the iPhone in its first incarnation, but it feels right at home in this version. The game is designed well in most regards, and gives you tons to do in a streamlined form. This version of Sim City truly is Deluxe, and worth it for $6.99 so how will you build your city?

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