Nov 13, 2007
Would the hardcore SimCity communities please put away their pitchforks and torches? SimCity Societies is definitely an extreme change from previous mainline SimCity titles - did developer Tilted Mill Entertainment ever once say that they wanted to do just another city management rehash? - but it also happens to be a worthy branching off of the unbelievably popular brand. Societies takes a cue from The Sims by keeping gameplay light and simple but also playfully open-ended.
If you've seen any coverage on this game so far, you've probably already heard the gist of it: Societies trades in the insane detail of laying sewage pipes, budgeting taxes, and other such fun tasks from SimCity 4 for a much broader "society" system wherein your city leans in certain directions based on the types of buildings you plop down.
Players are given two basic options: you can go wild and build whatever you desire and then observe what type of city emerges. Or, you can filter the choices through certain city types ranging from the clown-and-candy-filled "Fun City" to the properly 1984-esque Authoritarian regime. While these focused options are fun for a limited amount of time, the real enjoyment comes in building a city one way and then taking a sharp right turn - flooding the streets of your Romantic setting with Capitalist landmarks, for example.
A whopping eight different resources (nine if you count population) act as the requisites to expanding your city. Power and Simoleons (i.e. money) will be familiar to anyone who's touched virtually any previous city simulation game. Unique to Societies, though, are six social values ranging from Productivity to Spirituality to Knowledge. Each building expends and produces a certain amount of one or more of these values, and the more your city uses any one value, the more buildings you unlock related to that value. Greater Spirituality usage might grant you a new cathedral, while an overabundance of Prosperity could lead to bigger banks or office buildings.