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SimCity rebuilds the sandbox game

Nate Ralph | March 14, 2013
SimCity is a visually striking homage to a classic series that takes city building in bold new directions, but troubling business decisions and technical snafus spell trouble.

The SimCity experience is also ultimately tied to EA's whims. I'm not talking about the all-but guaranteed torrent of downloadable content we can expect to arrive in the coming months. No, it's all about the online-only experience: even once the troubled launch is behind us, the future of SimCity lies in however long EA is willing to support it. At some point in the future, SimCity will inevitably be shut down--and your cities and regions will disappear alongside it. While this is simply a fact of life in the brave new world of cloud gaming, SimCity has always been the sort of gift that keeps on giving--there are still legions of fans playing SimCity 3, SimCity 4 and even SimCity 2000.

Is SimCity worth your time? It depends. I'm having a blast: the last week has not been without its share of woes, and the focus on playing with others coupled with server issues necessarily limits the thrill of carving a thriving metropolis out of digital soil. But there's potential for a singular experience here, once you've found a solid circle of friends or strangers to work with. But it's out of reach until the server situation is sorted, and after a few necessary bug fixes. And it's gone once EA decides to kill the servers.

Bottom line: EA and Maxis haven't rested on their laurels here. Their risky experiment in bringing a classic franchise into the future is bold, and fun. But if you can't stomach the crippled single-player experience, and don't want to leave so much of your entertainment power in a company's hands, you'll want to steer clear--or at least wait until it's on sale. But don't let the rough launch turn you off--there's a lot to love in this game, and it's worth taking for a spin.


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