…but alas, I got an email saying that I was invited to take part in the Simcity beta test, and that’s where the afternoon went.
Here’s a sample of what things will look like:
Now, the beta version wasn’t that pretty: low quality graphics and some glitches, but that’s to be expected. But the gameplay is pretty interesting. The utilities (power, water, garbage) are easier to manage, and the city starts to turn a profit very quickly, unlike the earlier versions of Simcity. Zoning is a bit different, as you don’t do it in blocks. Instead, zones are placed around roadways.
The roads features are really nice, too: you can build nicely curving roads, circles (yay! traffic circles!) and upgrading a road to a higher density is easily done. Upgrades to health clinics and schools are easy to do, too, and when you build fire and police stations, you can upgrade those to add extra patrols and vehicles.
Also interesting: it appears that you can annex land as your city is growing. I’m not sure if that’s a bug or an aspect of the gameplay, but since the simulation is meant to be more in-depth, it makes sense. You have to play it online, though – that will turn a lot of people off. The idea, I think, is that you are more reliant on neighbouring regions for export and import deals (you can even extend ambulance and police coverage to local regions). Your neighbour could focus on tourism, if they want, and you’ll find your citizens heading there for vacations. That sort of thing.
The music is really nice, too. Very low key and subtle, and it doesn’t feel too repetitive.
A very interesting demo. Couldn’t take screenshots, as that’s not allowed in the closed beta test. It played really nicely…I suspect I will be buying a copy when it comes out (I’m hoping there will be a beta test discount…we’ll see!).