|System: PC||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Maxis/ EA/ (Various)||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 23, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: E - E10+||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Nathan Meunier
The SimCity franchise has branched off in so many directions over the years it's been difficult to keep up with all the different ways building (and destroying) a virtual cityscape or micromanaging the lives of pixelated avatars (and now even their pets) has morphed and changed. The Sims spinoff series seemed to take over the spotlight for a time on consoles, handhelds, and PCs alike, but the original SimCity line has made a comeback in various forms.
EA's decision to bundle a handful of recent SimCity-related titles and expansions into a single package is indeed a bid for more of your hard-earned dollars. However, the quality of the titles and cost-effective nature of this package will be hard to ignore, especially for fans of city life simulation. If you've passed on SimCity titles for the past few years, The SimCity Box - containing SimCity Societies, SimCity Societies Destinations, SimCity 4, SimCity 4 Rush Hour, and Sims Carnival SnapCity - could very well be reason enough to dig back into the series.
Last year, SimCity Societies reinvented the classic city management formula with mixed results. The game transitions away from a heavy emphasis on energy, transportation, budgets, and the typically bottomless level of micromanagement associated with SimCity. Instead of focusing on how big and bustling a city is, Societies lets players delve deeper into what kind of city they're making and what manner of people inhabit it. Though some money and a minor amount of energy resources are still required to construct buildings, the types of buildings you lay out determine what kind of folks move into town and ultimately the kind of city produced. Structures provide various flavors of cultural "mojo" that influence the vibe of your society.
Players are given broad flexibility to create some interesting societal landscapes in their cities. Whether your interests lean towards an authoritarian regime, a hippy-dippy farming community, a cult compound full of religious zealots, a futurist cyberpunk metropolis, or many other styles, there's something for all tastes. This streamlined style of SimCity play may not suit all, but it does make the series more accessible for players who are intimidated by the traditional gameplay. The game is easy to pickup, but it contains less depth than past SimCity titles. This can be a positive or a negative aspect, depending on who you ask.