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Welcome to YourCity
If you've never played a SimCity game before, the premise is simple. You are the mayor of a soon-to-be-great city, and you have to help it grow. You start out with nothing but a bare landscape, and you're expected to build everything a modern city needs. This includes roads, homes, commerce, industry, parks, and so much more. When the SimCity games first started out, it was fairly complex. Things like taxes, pollution, and traffic had to be taken into consideration as your city grew. SimCity 4 continues that tradition, but there are many more aspects of city management you'll need to pay attention to. But as far as a storyline goes, the story is simple - grow your city into a Metropolis, keep your citizens happy, and you'll be the most favored Mayor in history.
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The Tools Of City-Building
In comparison to earlier versions of SimCity, this edition gives you a wealth of tools to build your city into a metropolis. There are the usual things like roads, residential sections, commercial sections, and power plants. But the number of choices within each category has multiplied exponentially. You have the ability to add parking garages and bus routes so your citizens can commute to work properly. There are vast levels of parks you can choose from that include everything from a gazebo to a basketball court to a large flower garden. Then there are the different forms of railway you can lay down, either for commuter trains or freight trains. Then there are the subways and the water lines, and the power grid to maintain. I could go on and on about the incredible number of options, but just understand that this is a truly complex game with a lot of choices to be made.
Some noteworthy additions to this version include a much more well defined Mayor panel, a board of advisors who will help you guide your city to positive growth. These advisors are better than ever, providing helpful tips and cautioning you when things are about to be a problem. Certain milestones can provide you with civic rewards or business deals. This feature can really help your city out, but be aware that many of the business deals have a catch you may not like. There are also landmarks you can add to your city, such as the Eiffel tower.
One other fun aspect of the game is the minigame-like quests where you self-drive or self-fly to accomplish quick goals. This is because the expansion pack SimCity 4 Rush Hour is included in the Deluxe Edition, which is a nice bonus. Little icons will appear over cars, the helicopter, or the train. You can then click on these to launch a quick mission, which ranges from flying the hospital helicopter to save "Little Jenny" or getting "Johnny" to school on time. Succeeding at these tasks will grant you all sorts of rewards or new options, particularly when you help noteworthy visitors get around.
The controls for the game are fairly intuitive, but if you get stuck there are some great tutorials you can walk through that will make your first city a snap to get started. These tutorials cover everything from the basics to more advanced topics, and its highly recommended that you walk through them, even if you've played a SimCity title in the past. The number of options in this game make it a juggernaut, so you'll want all the help you can get. Lastly, there are some freebies to be had online that will enhance your game as well.
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Whats Your City Look Like?
SimCity has never really depended on breathtaking graphics, because really the focus is on management simulation as opposed to an in-depth storyline or combat. Having said that, this edition of SimCity still looks really good. You have the ability to zoom in anywhere and take a good look at the actual citizens wandering around. The movement of all the activity is constant, as you would expect from a city. But it never becomes so energetic and frenzied as to distract you from your main task - managing your city and helping it grow. This edition features a nighttime view as well (unless you change that option, which you can do), and the city functions and activities change accordingly. The graphics are fairly crisp and well drawn, and its pleasing enough to the eye rather than detracting from the experience.
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The Sounds Of Success
The sounds of SimCity are not anything to make you stop and take notice. But this isn't really the focus of the game either, so its unfair to count this as a negative. You can hear various activities from time to time as you go from one point in the City to another, and it does help draw you into the experience of being the head honcho. Just don't expect to be blown away by them. It is sometimes helpful in fact to kick off some music in the background via Windows Media Player, since the game itself is fairly quiet.
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Here's What You Need
Running SimCity4 Deluxe Edition will not tax your personal computing budget too harshly. The minimums are exceedingly low, and even the recommended are probably lower than most PCs out there at this time. Here's what you need:
- 500Mhz PIII or better
- 128MB RAM
- 16MB Video card
- DirectX 7.0 compatible sound card
To really run it with no problems, you should expect to bump the processor up to a 1Ghz or better, have at least 256MB of RAM, and have a 32MB video card
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The Sum Total
SimCity 4 Deluxe Edition does what it sets out to do, and it does it well. There are enough management tools here to make any Mayor proud, and although there is a great deal of complexity to the game, it should keep any simulation-minded individual happy for a long time. Replayability is great, since you can start over with a new city whenever you want. The graphics and sound are good enough, though of course they're not going to thrill you beyond all reason. The addition of the Rush Hour expansion also makes this edition well worth the purchase price. Lastly, there are quite a few freebies available online to keep your gaming experience fresh and new. If you haven't picked this one up yet, you need to go get it right away. You won't be disappointed.