As card carrying members of the greater society of internet reactionaries, we here at Loaded Dice wanted to hold off for a bit on the whole SimCity thing. Last night on the cast, it was about to be discussed, but we thought it was best left for some bloggery. Here it goes:
I want to start with an apology, because I have very clearly done something wrong, which likely affects you. I pre-ordered this pile of sewage. The Deluxe Version. The $80 version. Like a true, recividist idiot. I even crowed about it on the podcast when we talked about how this is a different case than Aliens:Colonial Marines. I ignored the warnings about always online DRM, I bought into the carefully tailored marketing message. I hungered for videos on the game, thinking they were a gift to me, rather than a carefully designed illusion to part a fool and his money. So now, EA gets to stuff my $80 in their pocket and can say to themselves "Welp, we got that going for us, which is nice." I'm sorry for encouraging them. You have my word, I won't do it again.
I'm pretty sure the internet at large is by now aware of the initial wave of problems with this game. The launch week (month?) issues associated with the forced always online nature of the game led to a debacle that made Blizzard's incredibly blunderous launch of Diablo 3 look like a well executed professional production of Swan Lake in comparison. As of this writing they are still trying to strip out all the glorious functionality that made online play so "key" to this installment in the series, (regional trading! Worldwide Marketplace! Online Leaderboards!) so their servers can handle the basic tasks of scanning your retinas, probing you through the orifice of your choice and whatever else they can do to ensure their game is not falling victim to the wanton tender attentions of internet pirates.
The irony, of course, is that as of this writing, their ingenious DRM equivalent of trapping Batman and Robin in a giant clam has somehow failed. SimCity, despite EA and Maxis' most sincerely delivered protestations that due to the ultra complex nature of the simulation (more on that juicy one later) could not possibly be contained purely on your puny several thousand dollar gaming PC, and simply must be simultaneously run on whatever duct tape constructed weevil infested pizza box farm that they call servers, has been hacked to run in offline mode successfully, as well as any number of other basic pieces of functionality that we were told were clearly impossible. See HERE for some evidence, and see this Blue's News rundown for further info. It should be noted that Rock, Paper, Shotgun has been all over this story from the beginning.
Are you ready for the fun part? Because here comes the fun part (After the break):
Once you Frodo and Sam your way into Mordor you find out the game is fundamentally broken.
First, let's take a moment to review the basic functionalities that have been present in Sim City Games as of the last installment, from a decade ago, that have been cut to make room for the marvelous wonders that Sim City 5 holds for us:
- CITIES! (The gamespace provided is town sized at best. Space is at a premium, and despite adversity being a crucible for creativity, ultimately you just end up with tiny, weird looking cities on a giant map that you can't put anything on.)
- Ordinances (Coming soon to a $10 DLC near you soon, no doubt).
- Subways (Not a big loss, because it's not like you can build a big city, amirite?)
- Terrain editing (Less space! More filling!)
- Saving your game. Want to experiment in your City Simulation? NOPE!
Now, let's take a moment to review some of the more fascinating parts of this new "Simulation" that has been bestowed upon us:
- Traffic Simulation and pathing are fundamentally broken. This is pretty groovy, because the entire game is based on traffic simulation and agents traveling on roads. Imports, exports, police, fire, workers, all depend on getting through traffic to make your "City" function. Enjoy these monuments to stupidity. (HT: RPS)
- Your city will become flooded with busses from neighboring cities who do not pick up your citizens or transport them anywhere. They merely clog up your traffic, block your services and make a mess of things. The optimal solution:Bulldoze your bus depot to improve traffic! INTUITIVE AND SATISFYING!
- Water becomes a problem in this game, which, I suppose, is fine. What is not fine is the apparent optimal solution: Feed your residents shit back to them. Yes, please place your water tower directly next to your sewage outflow, stick down a "Filtration Plant" and ENJOY! You will never run out of "Water!"
- The City Specialization for Tourism and Gambling is actually a city specialization for burning Simoleons. Casinos are broken and lose money. Hotels pop up and quickly turn your city into a post apocalyptic Detroit themed wasteland as your budget plummets. Ooops, I guess that didn't work, I guess I'll just go back to my last save....NOPE CITY FUCKED MOVE ON. ...If you can escape!
- Your SIMS are actually a roving pack of particularly stupid and frightened donkeys. Work getting out? Prepare for a horde of ravenous baboon people who don't know where they live running towards the same place like the Black Friday sale in Walmart is on bad whiskey labeled with a mossy oak pattern. Tastes like invisibility and the slow death of western society!
- The optimal solution to building a highway network for your metropolis? NO INTERSECTIONS, EVER! Seems good, Maxis.
- Your firemen have OCD. "Quickly! Everyone to the fire!" And so goes every fire truck in your city, to the first fire that happens. 4 more fires breaking out? Well...gotta finish this one first. Definitely, Definitely.
- Disasters are like Raptors. They hunt in packs. Numerous reports of cities unmolested by disasters for hours, only to be hit in rapid succession by all manner of insane acts of Divine retribution and extra terrestrial stunts. It's like Jerry Falwell was right this whole time, and it just took God a while to figure out where all the gays were hiding. YOUR CITY. Clever girl.
- Oh, and then there's this: What? I don't even. How does this? I need an adult!
So, in conclusion, fuck you very much EA and Maxis. You've taken another good thing in the world, run it into the ground, and charged us 60 to 80 dollars for the privilege. Eventually, you're not going to have to worry about that piracy thing anymore, because no one is going to want to pirate your games.