|System: DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Electronic Arts||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Electronic Arts||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: June 19, 2007||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Jonathan Marx
The SimCity series will forever be known as a gaming classic. Will Wright developed a tremendous simulation concept in 1989 that started him down the path to becoming a gaming industry giant. His magical little city simulator has been re-hashed and re-visited on various platforms over the years. Despite all of the effort to refine the game, its core gameplay has remained largely the same; build the best city you can by manipulating and balancing tools such as budgets, zoning, monuments, parks, and transportation systems.
The PC and Mac versions have always been the best because of their pinpoint control scheme. Console and handheld versions have struggled because they were simply unwieldy; making them about as fun to play as your Aunt's Barry Manilow albums. I wasn't too worried about this fact when I picked up this title, however. Why? Because it's a DS game, and I knew that control problems of the past would be a non-issue due to the use of the stylus.
My first impressions of the game were mixed. The controls are solid, and made it easy to manage my city. The graphics are poor, however, and detracted from the overall presentation. The amount of menus and information I had to manage was also daunting. It was a good thing that there is a 15 part tutorial to help walk you through the basics of the game. Soon the menus start making a lot of sense, and you'll refer to them constantly to help you decide how to spend your precious funds. As you become savvier with the tools at your disposal and the effect that each municipal building, zone, or park has on the formation of your city, the more fun you will have and the more rewarding the experience will be. It's very important to keep the appropriate balance between residential, commercial, and industrial zones. A mini-bar will help you with this balance by showing you the demand for each zone. Some of the other indicators at your disposal are data overlays and graphics that help you to assess which areas have the highest crime rate, or are prone to fires, or are suffering from water shortages. By constantly referring to this data, you will know exactly where to place your next police station, firehouse, or water tower. Also, if you really want to be a good mayor, it's important to master the placement of flora, parks, stadiums, libraries, museums, and so forth in order to increase the quality of life your citizens have. The more desirable the city is, the more likely Sims are to flock to your town. You've also got to keep your Sims happy once they've moved there. In order to achieve this, you need to manage and fund a healthcare system, a transportation system, a school system, and a fair and lucrative system of taxation. As you can see, there are a ton of facets to this game for you to master. If you like strategy games, then this will definitely be a good game for you. There are many challenges at every level of difficulty. The game will provide just about anyone with hours of addictive and rewarding gameplay.
I loved this game in most regards. There are two glaring issues, however, that hamper the final score greatly. They are the graphics, and the single save slot. As I mentioned, the graphics detract from the game. Having Sims flock to your city is rewarding, but creating a gorgeous city that truly reflects the attention you have lavished upon it is necessary. Unfortunately, you will have to deal with blasé sprites that only marginally compensate you for all of your hard work. The addition of monuments are a nice touch to make your city stand out, but gifts like the post office, mayor's mansion, and courthouse just get lost in a sea of pixels. The other issue that must be addressed is the fact that there is only one save slot. That's right, I'm not joking, there is only one slot to which you can save. This limits you to creating one city at a time. If you get bored or frustrated with your city, you'll have to scrap it entirely in order to start fresh. Additionally, if you share games with your little brother, or wife, or some other game hog, you're going to have to wait till they've gotten all the joy out of their own city before they will relinquish the cart to you.
Luckily, the game is pretty cheap and you will actually be rewarded for picking up the second copy. There is a minor online component to this SimCity version. You will be able to open up unlockables by sharing your city with others. Or, if your cheap like me or don't have the patience, you can refer yourself to our cheat section and open up anything you want. This game, like its predecessors, is full of unlockable items.
The sounds are superb for SimCity DS. You're going to love the little tunes that the cart kicks out. Like all of Will Wright's brainchildren, SimCity DS has the kind of music and sounds that really bring the gamer into the experience. You won't even realize it, but you'll be tapping your feet while laying down track and roadways. The music is truly conducive to the tasks at hand. I couldn't ask for much more out of any game.
There is another mode of play besides the standard city builder. You can Save the City if you would like. I found this to be a nice diversion, but not nearly as good as the core game. Saving a city will have you, as mayor, making all the tough decisions to get a formerly great city back to glory after some kind of natural or economic disaster. There are time limits involved, and they are, all in all, pretty short. However, there are some steep challenges involved and saving the cities will definitely improve your mayoral skills.
Overall, this is a really fun game that will keep nearly everyone occupied for many hours. The gameplay is addictive, and the controls are about as good as the PC and Mac versions. The graphics are painfully lacking, but don't make it difficult to play, they just make it less rewarding. If you don't have to share the game with anyone else, or if you are O.C.D. and simply won't put the game down till you've made one perfect city, then the one save slot may not bother you. However, if you fall into a different category, then you will be frustrated and saddened by the fact that you're stuck with one city, or that you'll have to scrap all of your hard work just to start anew. Glaring faults aside, this is a good game that will help pass many a long car ride. Just don't let your bratty little sister get a hold of your precious cart or you'll be very sorry indeed.
CCC Freelance Writer