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Sim City 4 Rush Hour Print E-mail
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Written by Shigamoto   
Saturday, 19 August 2006
With Sim City 4 Maxis incorporated 3D graphics and a few other interesting features, was it enough to keep the fans at bay? Read on to find out.

The most noticeable change in Sim City 4 is the 3D graphics. They had been on Maxis to do list for quite some time and were first set to be launched in Sim City 3000. You can now zoom in and watch individual citizens walking around on the streets. A bad neighborhood has citizens with trashy clothes, and you can even see crimes taking place and police making arrests (when you send them there). The police intervention graphics were removed in the Rush Hour expansion pack. In a good neighborhood you see proper dressed citizens walking on nice clean streets.

Another graphics feature is that you can set the time of day in your city. During night you will see all lights from the highways and cars, can be really beautiful. However there are still no seasons and weather, no snow or heat.

Fundamentally Sim City 4 has not changed much compared to previous games. It’s as always a matter of balancing taxes with service and growth. Lowering taxes will give you less income but more growth and the other way around. You can still choose to tailor taxes after income and zones (such as industrial or commercial).

A lot of Maxis fame during this period of time came from “The Sims”. In Sim City 4 they made it possible to insert Sims from the game or create your own ones. At first one might think of it as a marketing ploy to get people to buy two games, but there is more to it than that.

Another interesting feature that Maxis marketed heavily is that cities are now part of regions. A region is a tile map with different connected cities (which you develop). So one city can be focused around an airport while another one might be farmland. Each city is then connected and works like a whole region with Sims traveling between the cities.

Instead of having your usual advisors yapping away about taxes and crime you will actually see the life of real people in your city. It’s a very powerful tool to create better public transport, health care and schools in certain areas. The Sims also adds a bit more depth and personality to an otherwise scientific and data dense simulation.

Maxis also improved the advisors and the advice they give for Sim City 4. The advisors are still just a tool for the early stages of the game, their advice don’t change much.

If you disregard the graphics and eye-candy developed for Sim City 4 it’s pretty thin. Maxis tried to evolve the game even more by releasing the Rush Hour expansion pack in September 2003.

The Rush Hour pack added a lot to Sim City 4 and focused more on transportation. You could add ferries to your city, moon-rails, commuter trains and much more. Rush Hour also made it possible for the player to drive around in the city freely using a car, boat, helicopter or plane.

Part of the Rush Hour expansion pack is that you are given different missions. You can be called to stop a robbery, pilot an ambulance helicopter or drive a bus. The mission feature is not very well developed since driving in Sim City 4 is quite hard and oncoming traffic often make strange moves when driving with a siren.

With the Rush Hour expansion Sim City 4 can be crowned as the best Sim City game so far. It has depth, lots of options and is engaging and fun to play. Without the expansion the game is pretty much like Sim City 3000 with better graphics, not a big leap forward. Sim City 4 is also educational and you don’t feel like you are wasting time when playing.


Related: Sim City for Windows, Sim City 2000, Sim City 3000, Sim Tower
Developer: Maxis
Website for Game: http://simcity.ea.com/
Publisher: EA
O/S: Windows 98/ME/2000/XP
Year of Release: 2003

Requirements:
Pentium II/III 500 MHz, 128 MB RAM, 32 MB VRAM, 1.4GB HDD
Tested on:
Pentium 4 2.4 GHz, 512 MB RAM, ATI Radeon Graphics Card, Windows XP





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