SimCity looks to the future in its first expansion, preferring to forget the rocky past.
Let’s face it, the SimCity launch was mired in problems. Whilst the hardcore fans may have knuckled through the chaos around launch time, many players packed away their mayoral hats and turned to other forms of entertainment. However, the world of SimCity never stands still, and numerous patches later the game is vastly improved. So, if there was a time to come back to SimCity, it would be now, especially as the game has received its first expansion, Cities of Tomorrow, which allows players to add some futuristic flavouring to their creations.
Cities of Tomorrow introduces many new toys for armchair mayors to enjoy, but the three core additions come in the form of OmegaCo, The Academy and MegaTowers.
There is something slightly sinister about OmegaCo, the new mega-corporation that will happily share profits with the player as it changes your oil and ore into a new form of energy. Perhaps the clouds of purple smoke that rise from the factory are a clue, or the almost addictive demands of users that cry out from the city, or the increase in fires that seem to be plaguing businesses. There is no denying that getting into bed with OmegaCo is a surefire way to make plenty of Simoleons, but can you cope with the increase in crime, fire and pollution?
The Academy on the other hand seems much more benign, willing to share their futuristic technologies for the betterment of all Simkind. Working the same way as a University, players will find themselves researching all manner of swell ideas and adding additional buildings to expand into new and exciting areas of future tech. Boosters for solar or wind farms are a must, as is the sewage treatment plant that produces water.
However, all of these things rely on something called Controlnet to work. This new resource, which is beamed across the city, is generated from Sims themselves working at the Academy, with the more wealthy Sims generating more Controlnet. Maybe there is something a touch nefarious about the Academy as well…
The third major addition is taken straight from MegaCity One and seems to address the ongoing complaint that the city boundaries are too small – the MegaTowers. These massive buildings expand up instead of out, allowing the player to cram a massive number of Sims into a relatively small area. The player begins with a base level and then adds new floors as they can afford it, to a maximum of eight. The floors are themed towards accommodation, shopping or even offices for industry, or can offer something a little more specialised, such as an entire floor dedicated to education or, with drones supplied by OmegaCo, health and safety. And once the tower reaches eight floors, it can be topped off with an impressive crown, such as a solar power array or a massive roller coaster to encourage tourism.
The MegaTowers really are a game changer when it comes to the size of a city. But all three of these new additions are intertwined, with advancements for one unlocking new possibilities for the others, making all three essential, if not in each city, then at least in the same region. The options that these technologies create, such as the MagLev transport system which gets Sims off the roads, or the chance to build sky bridges to connect the MegaTowers, bring new strategies to players that are trying to make the most from the relatively small plot sizes in the games, and they are great fun to play around with.
Or at least they are fun until some giant robot comes along and stomps through the city, causing absolute chaos. The giant robot disaster is another new addition in the Cities of Tomorrow expansion, and one that only the most sadistic Mayor would want to experience.
SimCity: Cities of Tomorrow is a great expansion pack for what is a great game. It is almost as if Maxis and EA want us to forget the past and Cities of Tomorrow goes a long way to helping that happen. The biggest fault with SimCity is the limited area in which to create your city, and Cities of Tomorrow certainly helps with that. If you are enjoying SimCity, then this expansion is an essential purchase.