Maxis is taking back the reigns.
Will Wright hit it out of the park with the concept for SimCity. In many ways, it was the first real-time strategy game, but not in the way we know them today. There haven’t been many copies of the series (certainly not any good ones), much like other developers try – and fail – to copy The Elder Scrolls or Legend of Zelda series.
At the Game Developers Conference (GDC) in San Francisco this week, Electronic Arts pulled up the curtain on their latest iteration of the franchise, simply known as SimCity. Due for release sometime in 2013, that’ll put it approximately 11 years after the release of the last entry in the series. Thankfully, however, EA has given the franchise back to its original curator, Maxis, to ensure the title’s success. It’s also running on their latest engine, called GlassBox, to ensure cutting edge visuals and the smooth-as-butter scrolling that is so important to this type of game.
Let’s not forget that these games can look incredible, even with their traditional viewpoint. Just take a look at Halo Wars. The detail and fidelity on that game was incredible, and it was released almost five years ago.
It breaks my heart to see the statement at the end of the video saying “images not representative of actual gameplay”, but let’s be honest, when you’re playing the game from skyscraper heights, the amount of detail to render that low to the ground would be ridiculous. And completely unnecessary.
Now let’s bring it back to the original series. I didn’t really play the first two iterations of the series. But I fell in love with SimCity 3000, and even further in love with SimCity 4 and its expansion pack, Rush Hour. These games managed to capture me in a way that no game had before, and I get a sense of childish excitement when I hear about the latest instalment in the series, much in the same way I feel about a new Zelda or Mario title.
The reason these games are so successful are because they are realistic but they don’t take themselves too seriously. They let you play, and you can play as much or as little as you want. By that, I mean, you can build up your city in a ridiculous way and then tear it down with tornadoes and alien attacks, or take things real slow, build up a thriving metropolis, expand into the suburbs, and become a powerful municipality.
If you haven’t peeped the trailer above, please do so, because the amount of creativity shown in it bridges the gap between SimCity and The Sims in some ways. If Maxis can pull it off – and I think they can – they stand to have an incredible series here with an incredible amount of depth.
Electronic Arts has also managed to confirm that, yes, there will be curvy roads! Say goodbye to cities that look like they’re built on a graph paper!
SimCity launches sometime in 2013, and we’re hoping we get a new trailer and hopefully some hands on time with it at E3 2012 this year.