|System: PC||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Tilted Mill Entertainment||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: Nov. 13, 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 Travis Fahs
Every so often, we find a game that is a clear victim of troubled branding. The latest example is Tilted Mill's pitiable spin-off, SimCity Societies. Here we have a game that is clearly not attempting to ape the existing games in Maxis' famed SimCity franchise, but is still ostensibly similar, without any clear label to illuminate what makes it so different.
If this were some kind of Grand Theft Auto clone, EA could call it "Streets of SimCity" and people would understand. Had it been a flight simulator, it could have been "SimCity Skies" and the packaging could have made everything clear. But a quick perusal of the back of Societies' box reveals that this is, in fact, a city building simulator, with the titular distinction being the ability to create cities according to different themed "society" types.
But all is not as it seems in the house that Will Wright built. Societies offers a take on city building that much more closely resembles the many popular amusement simulators like Roller Coaster Tycoon and Zoo Tycoon. No longer do you view the action from a distant god-like view, and no longer are you concerned with taxing your citizens, organizing large zones, or other managerial matters.
Instead, players are presented with a closer view of the action and find themselves responsible for the happiness and safety of the many little people bustling about, the familiar and lovable Sims. These Sims visit various venues to pick up their moods, they go to work when they're feeling productive, and they'll suffer if their needs aren't met. A happy and productive population is the key to continued success.
You'll need to build your city from the ground up, placing individual buildings, and laying out road ways. Each unit you place will drain or produce a certain amount of resources from any of six categories, as well as producing money and various other effects. Different societies will rely on different primary resources, and this will affect the types of units you can build and the look of your city.
All this customization is complimented by a more intimate view of the city. There are a ton of units to choose from, and it's possible to build some very diverse looking cities and even individual neighborhoods with their own personality and flavor. The graphics are fairly detailed with a cartoony style very much in line with The Sims, as is the audio and particularly the gibberish language that the locals speak. Unfortunately, as the cities become crowded and developed, performance becomes a major issue, even on beefier systems, and those toeing the minimum requirements may wish to approach with caution.