By David Mayne
App Release: 2011
Genre: City Planning Simulation
Prepare to charge your iPads…
If you were a fan of the SimCity franchise growing up, from its simple yet complex beginnings in 1989 on Amiga and PC platforms, you’ll have undoubtedly seen it grow and do some amazing things for the city-bulding genre of video games.
While sometimes overly tedious and implicitly nerve-racking, no other game in this genre has ever come close to reinventing the same magic that SimCity brings to the table. With its insanely simple-to-understand yet tough-to-master design, SimCity has always had a warm place in the hearts and minds of both casual gamers and armchair Mayors. SimCity Deluxe HD for the iPad is more or less a remake of the timeless classic, SimCity 3000, which debuted in 1999, while featuring some new improvements and additions to the overall design.
SimCity is quite simple…in theory. You are the mayor of your own town. You decide, from Day 1, how it will grow and evolve. You are the architect, planner, policeman, politician, and deal-maker all-in-one. You decide what industry and business comes to your town and where it goes. Do you want to build a sprawling juggernaut of billowing industry, or a “greener” tech-savvy environment, where computer chips trump oil and steel? What about your workers? Do you build miles upon miles of cookie-cutter track housing for them to dwell in, or do you opt for more urban-esque, highrise cityscapes, complete with looming towers and congested traffic? Farming is always an option as well, allowing you to beat the daily grind of city life if you yearn for greener pastures. See what I did there…? You’ll install plumbing, run power lines, manage budgets, ordinances, and tax rates, all in an effort to efficiently run your city and make it thrive into the future. As years pass and newer technology surpasses old, you’ll learn to adapt, re-structure, and govern in an ever-changing world. Simply put, SimCity is the easiest hard game there is!
The first thing you’ll notice about the iPad version of SimCity is that it looks gorgeous on-screen. Textures and edges are crisp, colors are vibrant, and the frame rate is solid, not jerky. This is especially important as your city grows, increasing the demand on the iPad’s processor. Just for fun, I put the iPad screen next to my laptop, which was running SimCity 3000, and the graphical improvement in this version are noteworthy.
The signature SimCity music plays in the background; from snappy jazz tunes when times are good and your citizens are happy, to lone-trumpet-doom-gloom when the economy slows and business is bad. Building things like police and fire stations, schools, and power plants still make their own little unique sounds, and the overall atmosphere of the game’s audio is strangely relaxing.
The iPad’s touch screen perfectly compliments an interface like SimCity, and while a mouse works just as good, something about a touch screen and SimCity makes a lot of sense, especially during a frantic post-natural disaster situation where time is of the essence.
One of coolest additions to this SimCity go around are its visibly changing seasons, as well as a night & day cycle. While they don’t actually impact the game play at all, they do serve to add a bit of realism and diversity to the look of the game. The calendar also moves along at a pace that you set. When you start your city, you can decide what time period you would like to being in: 1900’s, 1950’s, or 2000’s. Although beginning in the 2000’s seems the most logical choice, in terms of new technology being available, you would be missing 100 years of “old-school” stuff like coal and oil factories, no modern water treatment, and other cool nuances you’d otherwise miss by beginning in the “future”. In my opinion, learning and mastering the basic techniques during the early to mid part of the 20th century will eventually come in handy later in the game, allowing you to get really good once the 2000’s and beyond roll around.
Overall, SimCity Deluxe HD is a wise choice for any iPad owner looking for a genuine city-building experience on the go. Don’t mistake this for just another “mobile” remake though, as it’s a full can of SimCity beans, like any of its predecessors. Prepare to charge your iPads and iPhones, you’ll be playing this game for a very long time!
Fun Factor: 9 – Crazy addicting, fun to play and experiment, easy to get into – tough to put down.
Graphics: 10 – Bright, crispy, clean graphics, great frame rate, and the advisors are straight from the Sims.
Sound: 10 – Fun jazz tunes, dreary ones for the bad times, or play your own tunes! Great sound effects, solidly done!
Control: 9.5 – Excellent. Touch screen is accurate and responsive.
Lasting Appeal: 10 – I’ve been playing these games off and on for 13 years. This game will keep you glued.