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SimCity (2013)

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SimCity (2013)
250px-SimCity 2013 Limited Edition cover.png
If you make a game that makes something as mundane as "offline play" to be talked about in trailers and commercials, then you're doing something wrong.
Genre(s): Simulation
Platform(s): Microsoft Windows
Mac OS X
Release: March 6, 2013
Developer(s): Maxis
Publisher(s): Electronic Arts
Series: SimCity
Predecessor: SimCity 4

SimCity is a 2013 city-building and urban planning simulator game developed by Maxis and published by Electronic Arts. It is the fifth installment in the eponymous series, and is considered a reboot of the franchise (not that this means anything in a series of games that do not have plots). The game was released for PC in March 2013, with an OS X (now called macOS) version released six months later.

Why It Sucks

  1. At release, the game required a persistent internet connection to play, despite being a single player game. This lead to lots of people trying to connect to the servers only to end up being unable to play due to network outages, making the fans very unhappy.
  2. Maxis claimed that an offline mode couldn't be added, which was undermined by the addition of said mode in 2014, because a modder had found it in the game's files.
  3. Every region you build is exclusively stored on the server you played it on, so if the server you normally use is down, you will have to either wait or start an entire new region on a different server.
  4. Everything has to be connected to the roads of your city; this includes even simple things such as parks and trees.
  5. The game doesn't feel as realistic as previous entries due to some factors of the city building being simplified; you no longer need to worry about pipelines or power networks because the roads have those covered. Even major features of modern city design such as subways are absent.
  6. The ability to zone for agriculture has also been removed, so you can forget about building a sleepy little farming town.
  7. No ability to pass ordinances to influence your city.
  8. The land plots for cities are tiny compared to previous games and other city-building titles, being more like districts. Specifically, the maps are 2.048 kilometers (about 1.3 miles) on a side, and so have an area of 4.194304 square kilometers (roughly 1.6 square miles). For comparison, the large map tiles in SimCity 4 are just over sixteen square kilometers (6.2 square miles), and Cities: Skylines, which came out two years later, has a limit of thirty-six square kilometers (13.9 square miles), and even Cities Skylines' limit can be exceeded with mods.
    • All of the land plots are also exactly the same size. Modders have managed to increase plot size, but this only really proved why Maxis didn't: the game is extremely glitchy and runs very poorly with these mods.
    • Cities of Tomorrow tried to fix this issue, but did it in an extremely lazy way by just introducing single super-buildings that can artificially increase a city's population count without increasing the plot size.
  9. The region is also set up so that land plots all have a greenbelt and the map is mostly unusable space, making the cities players build look very odd. They also have a mandatory pre-placed highway onramp the player is not allowed to move or alter.
  10. It takes away the spirit and charm of the fourth game, one of the worst examples is that there is no way to terraform or modify the areas of your city to your liking.
  11. The game now saves automatically to the cloud, so if you experiment with a disaster on your city, there's no way to go back to the save prior to that point. This eliminates the desire to trigger disasters when you're not in sandbox mode. It is also impossible to turn off disasters, meaning that at any point the game can screw over your entire region on a whim
    • Even then, the process of saving doesn't always go accordingly; your city can even have to get rolled back to a previous state or disappear entirely if something goes wrong while saving.
  12. It's impossible for a city to become self-sufficient due to the focus on multiplayer. The system of unlocking special buildings also means the player is more or less forced to build several specialized cities just to meet the unlock conditions for all the structures associated with a particular industry.
    • That said, in the release version the RCI dependencies were so messed up that it was readily possible to build a self-sufficient residential city with millions in the bank and a perfectly happy and educated population despite nobody having anywhere to work or shop, while commerce or industry-based cities had such high operating costs and low tax revenues that they basically had to be funded by the nearest residential city.
  13. This is also complicated by the fact that raw material resources are finite, and are typically exhausted within about ten years, forcing the player to change the entire layout of their cities. While this would be nice as an option, it isn't great when it isn't one.
  14. The AI used for agent-based functions simply does not simulate how a city operates, and instead reflects a weird collectivized pseudo-communist society.
    • Citizens do not have a specific job or home: instead, each morning they will go out and look for a job at their own wealth level, and each evening they will go and look for a home at their specific wealth level. This even applies to more minor examples: you will, for example, notice that when a stadium empties out, each Sim tries to go to the nearest car rather than the car they arrived in.
    • A result of this is that Sims is frequently headed-off by another Sim getting to the place they were going and filling in their spot, forcing them to change their destination. It is entirely possible for a Sim to spend their entire life driving towards destinations they never arrive at.
    • This also affects most other systems in the game: for example, it is not unusual to discover Sims are getting sick due to an enormous blob of sewage which is constantly being pumped in circles because it keeps being headed-off by other sewage going to the treatment center it was going to.
  15. The traffic AI is also limited; traffic always takes the shortest route rather than the fastest route. In the release version, it was also possible for vehicles to become permanently stuck while turning, which would often result in huge problems because all of a city's utility vehicles were tailed back on a "dead" road.
  16. The above was only made worse by the fact that it is impossible to demolish a road without also demolishing the buildings along that road, so correcting a "dead" road required the demolition of an entire area of your city.
  17. It is very easy to grief a multiplayer region by deliberately messing up a city, and it is not really possible to "take back" such a city to fix it.
  18. Constant server stability issues resulted in a prolonged period where the highest speed setting was disabled.
  19. Overpriced object DLCs.
  20. Dr. Wright, the assistant of the SNES version of the original game, isn't seen or mentioned in the game itself.
  21. It killed the SimCity franchise along with SimCity: BuildIt which is an even worse freemium mobile game. Cities: Skylines has taken the throne for city simulation games since then.

Redeeming Qualities

  1. Excellent music.
  2. Wonderful sound effects and city ambiance.
  3. Beautiful graphics.
  4. Freely controllable camera.
  5. You can add modules to your buildings to make them more efficient.
  6. Citizen requests add an element of risk-and-reward.
  7. If it were not mandatory, the idea of being able to optionally build a network of interdependent cities that supply each other with materials and services would have been great.
  8. It is the first and only SimCity game to have the ability to create curved roads out of the box.
  9. While Cities of Tomorrow was not the add-on the game actually needed, the futuristic buildings were certainly nice to look at.
  10. Free patches did later fix the server stability issues and inability to save offline, and also reworked how the agent AI and traffic functioned to make playing the game more bearable.



Before the game was released, there were the trailers and gameplay, the game was well-received by critics and the fans of the series, making the fans hyped-up for the next game scheduled for release in March 2013.

On release

SimCity received mixed reviews from critics with a 64/100 "mix or average reviews" on the PC version so as a Cities of Tomorrow with a 61/100 rating, but an mixed to negative reviews from the fans of the series, reaching a 2.2/10 user score rating on the PC version, By July 2013 it sold two million copies, though this does not appear to have met EA's sales projections.


  • Paradox Interactive only greenlit Cities: Skylines after SimCity flopped: prior to this, they had feared the new SimCity game would dominate the market and totally overshadow any other city-builder.
    • The reveal trailer of Cities: Skylines also made fun of the "always online" aspect of SimCity when it showed a line saying "Play offline."



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