In February, I was invited to play the near final version of Simcity. It was a blast getting to chat with the developers while learning the secrets behind the game.
I had the opportunity to play a 16 player region called Viridian Woods. The region itself is split up among four clusters of cities. Each city within a cluster can immediately share services with each other. The North and West cluster are connected by railway. The rest of the territories will have to be connected through a ferry (as long as the city itself is not land locked.)
Even though my city resides in the Western cluster, I couldn’t volunteer my firemen to cities in the Northern cluster. This is because only four cities within a cluster share highway access with each other. (This does not apply to all regions.)
Similar to neighbor deals in Simcity 4 and 3000, you can opt to purchase a portion of your neighbor’s power, water, and sewage treatment. These resources are available automatically once the game determines you have enough to share with the region. It takes around 60 seconds to 2 minutes for a city to sync up with the region, though this number is being worked on as we speak. Once you purchase a utility, your city will only pay for the amount they need and nothing more.
As your city grows, you’ll automatically pay more and more to accommodate the needs of your city. But be forewarned, a neighboring city might stop sending power and you’re stuck in a situation where your entire city might be left in the dark!
Aside from those utilities, you can volunteer emergency or garbage disposal services to other cities. These services include, garbage, recycling, fire, ambulance, and police. It will take some time for these vehicles to travel from one city to the next. It’s even possible for them to get stuck in traffic!
You can also gift resources to other cities in the area, like money, oil, computers, and processors, among other things. During my playthrough, one of the Devs mentioned how an armored truck is dispatched when you transfer money to another city. This truck travels to the City Hall in the recipient’s city. If you’re strapped for cash, imagine how long it takes if the armored truck gets stuck in traffic.
Each one of us decided upon a role our cities should take, this can be done through a feature known as City Specialization. City Specialization lets your city focus on Tourism, Oil, Electronics, Trade, or Mining. You don’t have to focus on just one specialization, and it’s a completely optional feature.
Specialization comes in handy when creating Great Works. Since Great Works require a large investment of money and resources to build; a city that focuses on a particular type will have an easier time donating resources for that project.
I started out with a high density main avenue with branching medium density side streets. The intent was to eventually have all traffic flow in one direction in and out of the city. I tried my hand at building some curved roads off to the side for a residential community. Well… the plan didn’t turn out as great as I though, so I decided to spruce it up by planting happy little trees all around the city.
I realized quickly that a majority of my Sims were sick due to air pollution. Oops! I forgot to take into account the wind direction when placing industrial zones. I tried to amend the problem by moving the industrial zones closer to the entrance of the city. However, it appears pollution was drifting from another city, further impacting the health of my citizens.
The only thing you can do to remedy this situation is to build a health clinic and plant more trees. It was a little surprising in this installment to see trees cost 50 Simoleons to plant. Their only major function other than beautifying your city is to remove pollution. Parks on the other hand help to increases land value. If you want medium and high-class Sims to move in, Parks are your best bet.
I decided to try my hands on Education and tourism. Once my city Hall was built, and more citizens moved in, I upgraded it and added a Department of Education.
When you add departments to your City Hall, they will unlock modules and buildings for other cities in the region. One of the benefits of multiplayer is to have everyone build a different department so you can quickly gain access to almost every ploppable building in the game.
Each department in brief:
- The Department of Education unlocks High Schools, Community Colleges, and University.
- The Department of Transportation unlocks Train Stations, Municipal Buses, and the like.
- The Department of Finance allows you to tax different brackets of wealth individually.
- The Department of Safety unlock the Hospital, Police Precinct, and Large Fire Station.
- The Department of Tourism allows you to set Tourist locations within your city.
- The Department of Utilities unlocks Recycling, and Water Pumping station.
The Department of Eduction is nice enough that you can build it separate from the City Hall! Now with that in place, someone in the region educated enough Sims that I was allowed to build my University without needing to place a grade school.
The University is a great tool to unlock several of the high end modules for power plants and emergency services buildings. This is done through the completion of research projects. Each research project requires a certain “School” to be placed near the University. You’ll need to educate a certain amount of students before you can upgrade the university to build the rest of these modules.
University Research Projects
- Concentrated Solar Array for Solar Power Plant (School of Science)
- Solar Farm Great Works (School of Science)
- Vertical Turbines for Wind Power (School of Engineering)
- Gen II Thermal Reactor for Nuclear Power (School of Science)
- Fast Neutron Reactor (Requires Gen II Thermal Reactor Research)
- Clean Coal Generator for Coal Power Plants (School of Engineering)
- Clean Oil Generator for Oil Power (School of Engineering)
- Surgical Center for Hospitals (School of Medicine)
- Detective Wing for Police Precinct (School of Law)
- Space Center Great Work (School of Engineering)
Each of these research projects require a large sum of cash.
Since Sims travel across the region to attend the University, it will quickly generate a lot of traffic. With the added benefit of the University educating your sims, you’ll start to see High Tech industry spawn, and solar panels on rooftops.
If you happen to have a School of Law and complete the Detective Wing research project, your Police Precinct will allow you to have detectives patrolling the city. When you place this module next to your Police Precinct, detectives will park their surveillance cars outside homes to catch criminals at large! They’re much more useful compared to the Police, since Police can only arrest someone while a crime is taking place.
Speaking of Police, I was one of the first to try out Maxis Man; he fights crime and saves injured Sims. I wasn’t able to see all of his actions, but the first option lets you rescue the injured for 500 Simoleons. It seems Maxis Man is kind of shady, what kind of superhero charges us to save the day?
One of the neighboring cities [Simcity Hall] unlocked Dr. Vu, generating tons of criminals. This can spell disaster when criminals travel across the region.
If an arsonist happens to spread fires around your city, you can try to take the proactive approach by building a large fire station. It has two very helpful modules, “Fire Marshall Office” which makes buildings immune to fire for several days; and “Fire Helipad” which spawns a helicopter dousing fires around the city. This helicopter requires water towers to be placed around your city. Now while the helipad may be useful, the expenses it incurs can really drive you into bankruptcy. I ran out of money in no time and had no choice but to close the fire station. (Tip: You can bulldoze expensive modules in the building’s edit view!)
Thanks for reading! Now that Simcity is coming out, I plan to post informative articles about every major feature! In the meantime, the next few posts will highlight my trip to Maxis studios with an exclusive interview with Ocean Quigley!