Sim City DS Review - 26/07/2007

Sim City moves in on the DS, is it here to stay or will it be evicted from the cartridge slot?

Sim City has been going for a long time it seems and with each iteration it appears nothing has changed too much, it's that old adage if it's not broken, don’t fix it. This game does add some variety and it's all down to the touch based controls, having most of the options on the touch screen makes things a lot simpler - well almost.

Because the touch screen is very sensitive when moving the cursor around the map you'll end up using the d-pad for most of the time, although all other options such as choosing to view the individual graphs and stats all work well when selected with the stylus.

The game is modelled on the best Sim City game, Sim City 3000 and it looks slightly more retro than if Sim City 4 was used as the template - besides I think the fourth game would have been too complex for the DS to handle, but as it is the DS copes well with what can be a very demanding game for processors to handle, and while the limitations of memory do show up now and again, for example loading or saving can take a while and some options from the full version have been omitted, it still remains the Sim City we all know and love.

Your first task is to gain an advisor, you are helped in this matter by answering questions about yourself, and this determines which character you receive in game. You then choose a name for your city along with of course a name for yourself as the mayor. A map is presented to you to ideally place your new town, and each area is suitably different; choosing a square places the level of difficulty put upon your game. Most areas either have a small amount of water or quite a bit, due to hardware limitations, there are no raised or mountainous areas, just flat ground or water - it's just one of the simple ways of making the game functional and it saves a lot of time having flat ground, so you could in fact call it an improvement.

Building your city is a case of putting the usual residential, commercial and industrial areas into well thought out areas, all this is done with the stylus and is fairly accurate unless you have a wobbly hand like me, more often than not I was bringing out the bulldozer, speaking of which, in a bit of an oversight as there is no undo button, meaning if you go a bit crazy with the stylus: it's curtains for your buildings.

There are loads of landmarks to unlock for your city along with the usual airports and casinos and things, it's all been sandwiched into the cart, there really isn't much missing at all from the main game, new additions are few and far between, and while a wifi option is here, it's a bit of a wasted opportunity as it only allows you to send messages to fellow Sim City users - it would have been nicer to have sent whole cities across the airwaves, but hardware limitations wouldn't have allowed this in all probability. Speaking of which you can only save one city on this game, which is a real problem, after spending hours making the ultimate utopia you have to keep it or start again from scratch.

One mode that really excels however is the mission mode, it sees you taking on failed cities around the world, normally involving rebuilding a disaster filled city or making sure a city stays on its financial track over a set period of time, and while these make up for a lack of choice elsewhere, it would have been nicer to have two save slots and less of these scenarios, but you cant have everything.

The game presents itself with its own problems it seems, after all the DS is for travelling with and this game takes a while to get into, so unless you're on a long train trip its probably not a game to play in short bursts. Special mention also to the music, it will make your ears bleed in pain, I suggest turning it off completely, and the sound effects are decent but nothing special.

Despite all the limitations of the hardware and software, this is a smashing game and quite rightly carries on Sim City's great name, long may it continue.

- Emerald



EA Games
EA Japan