SimCity Societies & Destinations
There is some speculation about a new SimCity game on the horizon, though it hasn’t been confirmed yet. I personally can’t wait…the last SimCity game to have been released was back in 2007. Not many would call that particular game, SimCity Societies, hardcore however. Many were turned off by the dumbed down, kiddie version of the series. Those who hated it are still playing SimCity 4 which was released in 2003. Sure, you have games like Cities XL to fill the void, but any SimCity fanboy (and fangirl) knows that there just isn’t a substitute for building a great empire and then laughing manically as you tag team Godzilla in to wipe it all off the face of the planet.
SimCity Societies, in all respects, isn’t a bad game. As I mentioned above, it’s a dumbed down version of SimCity but does add new features never seen before in the history of the franchise. In SimCity games, you normally start with a power plant, building residential, commercial, and industrial zones to jumpstart your economy. Eventually you build schools, police stations, fire stations, hospitals, roads, and other things a normal city would have. The kind of buildings you can build are clearcut and serve a very specific purpose.
SimCity Societies does away with your three basic zones and replaces them with hundreds of different buildings that do various things. You do have power to maintain, though there is no need for electrical lines. Plop a power plant down anywhere and boom, instant power up to its capacity, anywhere on the map. You have three main types of buildings…housing, workplaces, and venues. You build houses to bring people to your city, you build workplaces for them to work (you make money this way), and you build venues to keep your residents happy. There is a day and night cycle as well as a weekly cycle with your standard Monday thru Sunday schedule. Different workplaces have different business hours…for example, building a lot of office workplaces will net you your profits during the typical Monday thru Friday schedule. Building a ton of farms that operate every day of the week, including weekends, can be beneficial to your budget. You’ll quickly discover you have a LOT of different buildings to choose from and they all do different things. Some even have special abilities you can activate after an elapsed period of time.
Along with the three main building types are six different “societies” for lack of better term. They each have their own resource pool. Some buildings generate that particular society resource and some consume it. Having a negative resource pool of that particular society will mean some of your buildings of that style will not function. Each society has their own theme and have different effects on your city. The six societies are productivity, prosperity, creativity, spirituality, authority, and knowledge. Each society has their own versions of housing, workplaces, and venues. You can mix and match or concentrate on one or two society types, which result in changing the overall look of your city. Some societies do things better than others…for example, prosperity workplaces can earn you a lot of money. Productivity can too, but some buildings are “dirty” and pollute big time, affecting your city’s CO2 levels.
The Destinations expansion, released in 2008, adds a tourism feature and more buildings to accommodate said tourists. Some of your venues will have orange ticket values under their cost to show you how much a tourist will pay to use that building. To be successful, you’ll have to satisfy a wide range of tourists who prefer different things. Different venues provide different kinds of satisfaction.
It sounds like a lot of work but really it’s not. There are multiple levels of difficulty and even a sandbox mode so you can build to your heart’s content without worrying about money. There’s a strategic mode, which I prefer, that adds a maintenance cost to your buildings, making you have to work and plan out your city to make sure your budget stays out of the red. There are also achievements you can earn, one per map. When you reach one of the requirements for an achievement, you’ll be offered the choice to accept it or decline it. Accepting means you can still play, you just won’t earn any more achievements on that map. The achievements often reward you with decorative statues that provide money or a positive resource on one of the six societies.
My son, who is ten years old, enjoys building a city filled with buildings that have a chance to spawn a ghost when visited. He’ll sit back and laugh as sims go about their business and then scream and run for their lives from the ghosts that wander the streets. Another thing he likes to do is build up a decent city and destroy it with various disasters. The UFO disaster seems to be a big hit with him. I, on the other hand, prefer playing multiple times in strategic mode to see if I can get every achievement possible. If I’m feeling particularly cruel, I’ll build nothing but sleep tubes for my housing (basically a few thousand hamster cages in one building that can fit a human per cage, barely) and put a bingo parlor every other workplace building. Bingo parlors create addicts when visited so I usually end up with thousands of disgruntled people who have a crippling bingo addiction. Why? Because…SimCity Societies.
All in all, it’s a fun romp if you don’t mind a light city builder. It gets the creative juices flowing, and when you think about it, isn’t that why we play city builders in the first place? “My Shuno!”
Final Verdict: 8/10
You can check out video play sessions here: