When it was released on January 14, 2003, sim city 4 he had his problems. Its huge cities would swallow even decent PCs, for example, and its traffic simulation looked completely broken.
Twenty years later, thanks to faster PCs, the Rush Hour expansion, and a huge modding community, SimCity 4 is the best of all SimCity games. If it’s simulation, scale, variety, and beauty of urban sprawl that interests you, it’s also the best city builder.
Medieval and fantasy variants aside, the template established by the SimCity series remains the expectation for most city builders. As the mayor of a fledgling city, you divide commercial, residential, and industrial districts, position amenities and services to satisfy residents, and try to balance the budget as your city begins to take on a life of its own. Then, when you’ve built a sprawling metropolis and gotten tired, you’ll unleash some natural (or unnatural) disasters and start over.
SimCity 4 did nothing to change this formula, but continued its logical progression. It has crisp, clear 3D terrain and sprite art buildings, which are one of the reasons it still looks great today. It allows you to build huge cities and then trade resources with neighboring cities you built earlier. It has a day/night cycle, so you can see your skyscrapers glowing in the dark. You can drop off individual Sims in your town (The Sims 1 released in 2000) and then track their lives as they commute from your polluted suburbs to their awful job, then move out of town or die.
Perhaps most importantly, SimCity 4 included BAT, the Building Architect tool, which allowed modders to create their own buildings and place them in-game. Custom buildings, maps, and mods have greatly extended the life of SimCity 4, and as of this writing, there are over 21,000 files. available on the Simtropolis community siteincluding several new uploads in the last 24 hours.
The mods are the reason why I am confident in calling SimCity 4 the best city builder of all time. More specifically, it’s thanks to the Network Addon Mod. NAM was established in 2004 to fix SimCity 4’s traffic issues, and as of its last update in September 2022, it has been expanded to include new UI tools, types highways, light rail. and much more. Since all of today’s city builders are inevitably reduced to modifying road networks and mitigating traffic jams, NAM is essential.
To tackle the skyscraper in the room: I love Cities: Skylines and if you’re new to this genre, Paradox’s SimCity smoothie drinker is where you should start. However, if you’ve been playing Cities: Skylines and you’re tired of playing, or if you don’t want to spend money on the next piece of downloadable content, then you should upgrade to SimCity 4. SimCity 4 Deluxe Edition (which includes the Rush expansion Hour, also released in 2003) is on Steam Y GOG. Given that 2013’s SimCity was a bomb, and Maxis’ original studio in Emeryville closed in 2015, we may never see anything like it again.
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