Sim City 5

Sim City was one of the first PC games I played when I was young. I remember enjoying the sequels I was able to get my hands on. EA recently released Sim City 5 to a largely upset audience of gamers who have turned very vocal in the last few weeks. For one, digital rights management (DRM) required single player games to still be online (or maybe it was a bad creative decision). Servers were overloaded on launch. AI pathing was more or less broken causing traffic pile ups. RCI didn’t seem to always work as expected. Zoning sizes are not as obvious as they should be. I could go on and on…

So, when a friend asked if I wanted to join and play I was understandably reluctant. Why spend money on something people seem to dislike so much? Reading reddit made the game sound worse than Duke Nukem Forever. For instance one person says the game is broken to the core. Another person noted that their legitimate copy was disabled. Even mainstream media was writing up negative articles. None of these things inspire confidence in a game which usually inspires positively rabid fans.

It took a little convincing but I eventually decided to give it a shot based on how much fun my friend was having playing the game. I figured I’d get a game session or two out of it before getting bored or frustrated from bugs. I was wrong. While I noticed some bugs (most of which were minor UI glitches) overall the game was fun and playable. In fact I spent five hours one night experimenting with industry. It’s fun! So why are so many people unhappy? There are a few reasons…

There is a simple theory that may explain why some people still rage about the game. Sim City 4 had a large modding community which expanded the game greatly. I’ve even heard some of the mods were done/inspired by people who deal in civic work making the sim even more realistic (I can not confirm this — I did not play Sim City 4 or any of it’s mods). If you try to take the young Sim City 5 and place it up against the older and more  worldly Sim City 4 then 5 won’t be much of a match.

As many people noted the game is far from perfect. While I initially noticed the minor UI bugs I later started to notice more and more wrong with the game. For instance the numbers didn’t always seem to add up which is a problem for a simulation game. Another problem was with destroying service vehicles accidentally. Or  setting up a bus station in a specific way that makes them disappear. The end result is useless mods to service buildings.

But even with these issues I still have had fun. Why? Because I believe the developers will fix the issues — at least most of them. No game is perfect. The more complex a game is the more likely there will be bugs at launch. Some of the bugs can even be fun or funny. However, if most of these bugs still exist in roughly a month I will be pretty upset. If by the end of April the game is not making big leaps forward in polish I’ll probably join in the frustration. If the game does make big movement forward then I’ll be continue to be a happy camper.

If you are thinking about buying the game I recommend waiting till at least the next patch is released. EA has offered a free game to people who bought Sim City 5 but this will be going away after today. While Amazon is selling the game far cheaper than EA I believe most players will want to wait for a more polished product even at that cheaper price point. If you already purchased this game don’t forget today is the last day you can redeem your free game as a Sim City 5 owner. If you have not done it yet, choose and download!

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