It's been a long time coming, but Maxis' next step into the PC gaming realm is here. With more than nine years since the last game in the franchise, SimCity is set to use the full power of modern technology in bringing a digital society to life like never before. The game was officially announced at this year's GDC with a brand new trailer, concept artwork and gameplay details to boot.
As opposed to another numbered or subtitled sequel, naming this game simply SimCity gets the point across: this is a new standard for the series, and for fans, hopefully the beginning of a new chapter for the franchise. The early leaked images and details implied that new levels of simulation and social behavior would be incorporated into the established city-building formula, and the official announcement only confirms those suspicions.
Before we delve into the potential for new depth of simulations, take a look at the announcement trailer now:
In case the intricacies of that trailer managed to escape you (the different industries resulting in different buildings and citizen recreation) the development team has provided a more in-depth description. Series creator Will Wright may not be helming this quasi-reboot, but Creative Director Ocean Quigley and Lead Producer Kip Katsarelis are making it their goal to raise the SimCity brand to new heights in more than a few ways.
Along with the announcement trailer come this 'Insider's Look' from the team at Maxis. If the thought of unleashing a tide of toxic waste to destroy your friend's blossoming metropolis gets your gaming blood pumping, then you're in luck:
The amount of multiplayer interaction that was taking place in the announcement trailer will likely be lost on most viewers, but what's being shown is extremely promising. Toxic waste leading to power plant explosions, leading to blackouts, leading to protests, culminating in cooperation between two different players? That's the kind of online gameplay that SimCity fans have only dreamed of.
The official site for the game has also brought new concept artwork and details on how the standard and online modes of the game will offer new gameplay features. The new approach to buildings as physical objects to be dropped in the environment is clear from the trailer, but it seems the exact location of certain buildings will result in different effects. These kind of tweaks should grant players even more control over the look and function of their cities, along with new changes like curving roads and zoning restrictions.
Working together in online regions can allow massive projects to be undertaken, but the antisocial online gamer may choose to throw environmental laws to the wind and watch their pollution make neighbors ill. It isn't hard to see how many new behaviors, citizen demands and social philosophies can be brought into the formula of city planning, and that looks to be the exact goal of the team at Maxis.
The artistic direction is certainly impressive, but until actual game footage is seen, concept artwork will have to suffice:
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SimCity may have become relegated to a supporting role given the monumental mainstream success of The Sims, but the time couldn't be better to breathe new life into the original simulation series. With 2011 showing that PC gaming has every bit as strong a following as any console, seeing a new and improved SimCity that is truly relevant to current multiplayer desires and depth could be a dream come true to many.
With more than a year until a possible release, there will be plenty of time for the skeptics to be won over. Unfortunately, that also means that fans will need to be patient. However, even knowing that one of the most beloved computer game brands is being given the time and energy it deserves is comforting.
SimCity is scheduled for a release on PC in 2013.
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