If you’ve got half a strategising bone in your body, you’ve loved the SimCity (SC) series all these years. Each game is practically timeless—I could even pick up SimCity 3000 (released more than ten years ago) even today, and not have a complaint beyond the slightly dated graphics. I couldn’t help but expect the universe from SimCity Societies now, could I?
Instead of continuing with the original manage-a-large-city theme, SC Societies takes a leaf out of the book that Caesar III wrote so well. You don’t assign residential, commercial or industrial “zones” anymore—you now have the freedom to choose which structures to build where. Even the focus of the game’s changed—instead of strategically managing a city, the scale of the game narrows to managing societies and their values. As someone who’s played the previous SC games for days on end, I can tell you that this departure from the original can be a little disorienting—if you’re a fan, you’ll have to keep an open mind while playing this.
So here’s how the game works: you’ll be managing small urban settlements (on the scale of your locality, if that helps) and building structures that contribute to, or consume various “energies”—Creativity, Authority, Prosperity, Spirituality, Knowledge and Productivity. You could build an Authority-heavy totalitarian regime, a stainless steel IT powerhouse, or your own little artists’ village depending on the buildings you choose. On paper, this is a brilliant concept, but it falls apart in the game.
For some unfathomable reason, building energies only affect other buildings! So if you decide to be Big Brother and take joy in oppressing your Sims, you’re in for a nasty revelation—as long as they’ve got a home, a job and a little recreation, they’re sickeningly happy. Which brings me to the second thing I don’t like about this game—it’s (ugh) easy. Unlike the previous games where you’re always caught in a battle to keep your Sims happy without running your city into debt, it’ll take some serious effort to muck up in Societies. In some cases, even if you build structures based on their energy rather than their function, you’ll survive.
What I could get used to, however, is how visually wonderful this game is. You can choose from various architectural styles—cartoon-like, Cyberpunk, glass-windowed towers—the variety is ridiculous. Building animations are sometimes very cool, and attention to detail throughout the game is impeccable.
|Ratings : 6/10|
Developer : Tilted Mill Entertainment
Publisher : Electronic Arts
Distributor : Excel Interactive
Contact : firstname.lastname@example.org
Maybe I’ve been a bit unfair—in the first few hours (even days) that you play the game, SC: Societies is wonderful—even if it’s only because you’ll need all that time to explore what you can do. Checking out all the buildings and their effects is mesmeric, and gets addictive. It’s only later—when you’ve started to invest time in serious city-building—that you realise that the gameplay isn’t exactly the cat’s meow. It’s a game that you need to experience, but that can wait till it becomes a 500-Rupee EA Classic.