SimCity: Be smart with your simoleons
That strange new online SimCity thing has been out for a couple of days in the US and will be landing on European shores tomorrow. After all the hype, and let’s face it, the prospect of a new SimCity is worthy of excitement, nobody could really be judged for gobbling it up straight away. Hold on, though, temper that excitement with a cold splash of reality.
SimCity simply ain’t ready for you yet, all because of those bloody servers. It’s the world we live in, unfortunately, where every blasted thing has to be online and we all have to be connected like some dirty, hand-holding hippie circle of love, but instead of pretty lassies with flowers in their hair, it’s angry gamers who are currently being barred from being mayors after dropping money on a game that only exists when the poor, wee servers can handle it.
Personally, I no longer care very much about SimCity. It’s one of my absolute favourite franchises, but this latest iteration seems about as far away as one could possibly get from what I adore about the series. I’m not going to make any judgement calls about whether it’s “good” or “bad”, as I’ve yet to play it, having not launched on these glorious shores, but I know enough to be aware that it’s not my cup of tea.
I like my cities big and robust, not tiny and filled with named Sims that I can follow around. I don’t want a doll house, I want a metropolis. This shift from a macro perspective to a micro one is strange for a city builder, but certainly not strange for a product being squeezed out by Yig, the Father of Serpents, or, as it is more colloquially known, EA.
You lovely readers are likely smart enough to already know this, but I think it bears repeating: Don’t, whatever you bloody do, trust early reviews of games with substantial online components. I was appalled to see how many outlets shoved their reviews out in time for launch, which, of course, made them not reviews at all.
It only takes a few minutes to see that these journalists reviewed the game in an unrealistic vacuum on servers untaxed by the unwashed masses. They were completely unable to measure the quality of the online service EA provided, while also not really being able to test the impact of hordes of other players, as they were only experiencing the game with other writers.
It means more to these outlets that they get their reviews out first, ensuring all those wonderful hits, than providing honest critiques. Have no doubt about it, these reviews were not there for you, you weren’t being informed, it’s all about business. A horrible, muddy business. At least some made changes after witnessing the completely unexpected server issues. Polygon, a site on the cutting edge of games journalism and narcissism bravely deducted 1.5 from their initial score of 9.5. So, a poor launch is 1.5 less than a good launch, apparently. Numbers, they fucking rule! (Edit: And now they’ve knocked it down to 4. I love these guys.)
So be smart, if you do buy SimCity – and I’m certainly never going to tell anyone what the hell they should or should not buy, as I’m not your mum, and if you are a child, go read something with less swearing and anger — go in with your eyes open, wide open. Use matchsticks if you need to. If I was you, which I’m bloody thankful that I’m not, I’d wait a week before I read any reviews, let alone picked the game up. I’m me, though, which means I’m playing Anno 2070 and Tomb Raider (review impending) because I’m awesome.