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    cjvitek's Avatar
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    Default Review: SimCity Deluxe for the iPad, by Electronic Arts

    SimCity Deluxe for iPad, Electronic Arts
    $6.99, ***1/2


    • Based on SimCity computer game!
    • Fun turn based strategy game to control city
    • Nice graphics on large iPad screen


    • Complex game
    • Bug that causes the scenarios to crash

    Back in 1989, when I was a freshman in college, a new game was released that no one thought would do well. After all, who wants to be a city manager in a computer game? But SimCity did well, and aside from spawning it’s own sequels, it gave rise to the whole “simulation” style strategy games such as SimEarth, Civilization, and most recently the Sims. SimCity was ported to the iPad last December – so how does it stack up?

    Well, first of all, this is not the original version. This is more similar to the SimCity 2000 version that was released which was a little more advanced, a little more complicated. I was sort of disappointed to see this – the original version was elegant in its simplicity, an easy game that you could just start playing. The later versions, while having more advanced gameplay and better graphics, were also more complicated, meaning it was more difficult to just sit down as start playing.

    Having said that, the basic idea of the games is the same. You are a city manager, and you job is to build up a city from scratch into a thriving, bustling metropolis. In that process, you have to keep the people happy, keep them employed, keeps costs low, watch crime and fires, make sure natural disasters don’t ruin your city…well, you get the idea. You can control all physical and financial aspects of the city – what to build, where to build it, how much to charge for taxes, how much to pay policemen, etc.

    If it sounds complicated, it can be. You have to balance all these aspects – if you don’t pay the police enough, they can’t keep the crime down, which makes people unhappy. But if you raise taxes to much to pay them, that also makes people unhappy. It is a difficult job keep a city happy and moving right along.

    The controls in SimCity Deluxe for the iPad are pretty straightforward. On the right side of the screen you have your various controls – zoning for building, types of buildings, power plants. You also have access to various city advisor who can make suggestions as to how to improve the city (along with a streaming ticker along the bottom in case there is a severe issue – like no power!). You can even do things early on like adjusting the terrain, adding water, trees, mountains to the land where you will be building the city.

    The controls are very easy to use on the iPad – they have been made into large buttons so that even people with big thumbs like me can play with ease. The game itself is fun to play – the large screen lends itself to the city view, and the touch screen really makes it feel like you are manipulating the city.

    In addition to building your own city, you can also have the option of playing various scenarios – situations where a city is in dire straits and you need to fix it. These can be fun for an more advanced player, but I don’t recommend them for someone who is just starting – first, get an idea how the game is played. There is a tutorial available to learn some of the basics, such as how to zone an area and alos provide it with electricity and water. The scenarios include things like too much traffic, too many natural disasters, heat wave, etc.

    This brings me to my original complaint. SimCity Deluxe is fun, but I wish they also had the “simpler” version of the game, the original SimCity. It was easier to pick up, and much easier to play. This one, it seems like there is so much you have to learn, you can’t really just pick it up and start building a city. There was also a serious bug in the game. Every time I tried to play any of the scenarios, the game would crash on my. I tried deleting and reinstalling the game, but the same issue came up. I don’t know if this is from a recent update or not, but hopefully it will get fixed soon.

    All in all, this is still SimCity, a classic simulation game that has now come to the iPad, and it is just as fun to play now as it was then. The increased complexity means you just need to devote some more time to understanding the intricacies of the game, that’s all. If the crashing bug gets fixed, the scenarios should also be enjoyable for more advanced players. At $6.99, it isn’t a cheap game, but if you are a fan of the original, or a fan of simulation games, I strongly recommend it. Due to the bug, however, I can only give it three and a half out of four stars.

    Rating scale:

    * = No redeeming qualities or features, probably not worth it even if it is free
    ** = Few redeeming qualities, or is simply isn't worth the price
    *** = Some good features but also some clear flaws.
    **** = A solid app, worth the money if interested, a few flaws or problems or slightly overpriced
    ***** = Top of the line app, no problems or drawbacks.

    Price is factored into the ratings. Ratings are lowered if I feel the price of the app outweighs the benefits/enjoyment/features it provides. Likewise, an app that is a good value for the money will have a higher rating. Please comment on these reviews. If you own the app, tell me what your opinion is. If the review prompted you to buy (or not buy) the app, let me know why. If you want more information about the app, go ahead and ask.

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