SimCity 4 Deluxe

Reviewed by Kyle Bell, Posted on 2009-03-31


Developer: Maxis Publisher: Electronic Arts
Release Date: September 22, 2003 Available On: PC

I have a new gaming addiction. Actually, it is more of a case of video game relapse. You see, I used to play a lot of Sim City 2000. But that was back in the 1990s on my old IBM brand computer running Windows 95. Several years after the release of Sim City 4 (it was released in 2003), I finally broke down in 2009 and purchased Sim City 4 Deluxe. I wasn't very surprised that I immediately got hooked. The addiction is back on.

For those of you not familiar with Sim City, the franchise is a city building simulator that involves various elements of making a city such as economics, politics, infrastructure, social services and so on. Sim City 4 expands on this by adding a fully customizable “region” that is broken up into various squares for players to select to build their cities. The region concept allows for you to connect cities and expand into the hinterland.

Basically if you want a megalopolis with distinct cities, you have more than enough tools to do just that. At the root of the game is a supply and demand system which affects everything from labor to residential, commercial and industrial demand. As your city grows in population, undoubtedly the people will want a steadily increasing job market as well as office space and storefronts. Eventually your city will have towering skyscrapers that develop as demand increases (more on that later).

Before you do anything you will need to provide the most basic city services. Electricity is a must, so you will need to build a power plant. Keep in mind that while you have a large number of power plants to choose from, it is your job to weigh the costs and benefits of any given power plant. Coal is cheap, but extremely dirty. Medium and high wealth homes will not develop around it and neither will businesses. On the other hand you can go completely green with wind turbines and solar power plants, but they generate relatively little energy.

The best solution to your energy needs is a neat trick where you can build a power plant in a neighboring city, connect a power line to your city and a neighbor deal can be struck. This is also true for water and trash. Connecting roads, highways and public transportation routes (i.e. bus, trains, elevated rail, etc.) to nearby cities will also affect demand for labor and goods. For instance, a highway connecting your city to a neighbor that has a surplus of industrial jobs will see your citizens commute for work if a better alternative is not present in your city.

Of course energy is not the only service that a city provides. Water, garbage collection, recycling and recreation, are all required if your city is to succeed. Aside from these, Sim City 4 also gives you the option of funding ordinances to reduce ills in the community such as crime, provide better fire protection, CPR training, a reading program and so on which complement the more expensive police stations, fire stations, hospitals, schools and libraries.

As everyone knows, nothing in life is free. You start off with a limited amount of funds depending on your difficulty level. This can get you off the ground towards building the infrastructure necessary, but you will eventually need to build a tax base. You do this by zoning for residential, commercial and industrial (Sim City 4 also has an agricultural zone) and taxing based on an income bracket. There are low, medium and high wealth residential and commercial, as well as the equivalent for industry (dirty, manufacturing and high tech). You can tax these brackets at different rates to both bring in revenue by raising taxes and attract new development by lowering taxes.

The final basic thing that you need to know in order to build a successful city is to zone properly. It's a no-no to put residential developments near high pollution zones like industry or coal power plants. Instead of wasting your money on trying to attract tall office towers in a city of a couple thousand focus on building your tax base first. You need to build out before you can build up. You can build low, medium and high density zones with high density zones costing you more money per square. Low density zones limit development to single family units while high density zones have the potential to develop into towers and condos, but will likely start off as low density houses.

I could go on and on with the mechanics of Sim City 4. It truly is a magnificent simulator of how to build, run and manage a city. That is not to say that Sim City 4 Deluxe is perfect. I ran into a few bugs and the game crashed a few times on my laptop. If you can get past these frustrations, you will enjoy this game immensely. There are a lot of different elements that you have to put together in order to grow and prosper. Sim City 4 gives you all of the tools that you need and more. The basics are there, as well as dozens of special buildings like stock markets, hotels, stadiums and monuments. If you want the best of the best then Sim City 4 Deluxe is the only way to go.

Graphics: 9.5
Sound: 8
Gameplay: 9.5
Creativity: 9
Replay Value/Game Length: 10
Final: 9.3
Written by Kyle Write a User Review

Reviewed by Kyle Bell