|System: PC||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Maxis/ EA/ (Various)||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Electronic Arts||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: June 23, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: E - E10+||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
The new Destinations expansion pack remedies some of this, by adding another layer of complexity to the game. Aside from adding new buildings, disasters, scenarios, policies, and a slew of other minor updates, the expansion turns your cities into centers for travel and tourism. By building resorts and other accommodations and providing means of incoming transport for visitors, you can attract a broad range of unusual travelers who will flock to your city to spend cash and improve the economy. Juggling between the needs of visitors and permanent residents provides an added challenge, as you'll strive to turn your city into a five-star vacation destination. Thought not amazing, it's a solid expansion.
SimCity 4 is easily the cornerstone of this package. Though the game is now five years old, it's still amazing how much of an improvement it was over its predecessor in every regard. It also looks quite good, despite its age. SimCity 4 evolved the franchise significantly with a slew of major and minor changes. A god mode allows players to meticulously sculpt the land for their city's foundation using a highly flexible editing toolkit. Once the terrain is edited, the land can be populated with all manner of flora and fauna or devastated by waves of horrendous disasters. When you get down to the city management level, SimCity 4 uses an intriguing regional model where multiple cities can be linked together. You can easily go hands-on with each of your creations by jumping around effortlessly. The game also lets you import your characters from the Sims into your city. They'll provide limited feedback, but aren't playable on a ground-floor level.
The Rush Hour expansion pack adds an immensely detailed and upgraded transport system to your city including improvements to airways, roads, rail, and water routes. Tons of new vehicles are also included, but the coolest aspect of the expansion is the ability to jump into a large array of different vehicles to cruise around the city or complete specific missions. The birds-eye third-person view isn't perfect, but it sort of feels like an isometric version of early Grand Theft Auto titles. Building certain structures will unlock corresponding vehicles that can be driven for fun or taken out to complete goals. This excellent feature offers a completely new way to experience your cities and can be useful for planning development purposes.
Rounding out the package is an oddity called SnapCity. Essentially, it's a cartoonish puzzle game that combines gameplay elements from SimCity and Tetris. Colored blocks, corresponding to the three zoning types - commercial, residential, and industrial - slowly fall from the sky. These pieces must be rotated and joined on an isometric grid to form plots that sprout buildings when enough blocks are connected. It's a great concept, but the game isn't all that interesting or challenging. Just like in SimCity, buildings must be connected with streets, and special structures also appear from time-to-time. An occasional disaster will produce brief moments of excitement, as you struggle to put out fires or quell riots. Otherwise, the game ends up being a rather dull diversion worth only a good 20 minutes of entertainment or less.
Overall, The SimCity Box is a robust package featuring some very different ways to build, manage, and enjoy your own cities. There's enough here to satisfy all manner of city simulation fans, and each of the main titles, and their respective expansions, offer dozens of hours of compelling gameplay. The package also includes a trial version of the Spore Creature Creator - bonus! At a price that's far cheaper than it costs to pick up each title on its own, Sim fans can't afford to pass this box up.
CCC Staff Contributor