Review / SimCity Creator (Wii)

You have probably played SimCity before and if you have then you’ve played SimCity Creator. It is, bluntly put, SimCity on the Wii with a few more bells and whistles and a bit of MySims thrown in for good effect. That however, does not make this Wii game pointless, because there is a large audience out there who never played SimCity and it is to them that this game is directed, but not tailored. I say this because despite the obvious introductory nature of the game it still has all the deep robust features of SimCity, if not more.

Does this combination of casual and hardcore work well or is one side left completely in the dust by the dominance of the other? More importantly, and far more likely, if you’ve already played SimCity (or are still playing it) is SimCity Creator even worth buying? I’m not sure I can answer that latter question as it’s a matter of taste, but after playing the game for the past couple of days I can tell you what works, what doesn’t and what makes SimCity Creator different from all those before it.

I’m going to gloss over the gameplay here because most players know it. Build a city, make sure it functions and get lots of money has always been the idea behind SimCity and it hasn’t changed here. Players can construct three different kinds of areas for their city: commercial, industrial and residential. Build roads and power lines to power it and make sure everything runs properly and no houses burn down. Those familiar with the franchise will be happy to know that they can now build curving roads. In fact players can build any kind of crazy road they’ve ever dreamed of by just using the Wii Remote like a road building pen. It may seem like a small thing for those not familiar with the franchise, but for a die hard fans like me it’s a major leap forward.

This brings me to the controls, which use only the Wii Remote and no nunchuk. Menus are accessed by pressing the A button and then navigated via the d-pad. This set-up at first seems irritating, but after some play time you realize that pointing and clicking on the icons would be far more troublesome and sorting through the different options isn’t that bad with the d-pad. Everything else is pretty much done with the pointer. Players can literally draw their building zones and roads in any shape, square by square. Players are also able to select square and oval shapes to make their zones with. Sadly the Wii Remote still is not as precise as a mouse so creating a winding road can get a little out of whack unless fully zoomed in, and “painting” a new zone takes way to much effort when you can just select the square highlight options. Thankfully the designers also made the 2 button undo so that a player’s worst mistakes can be quickly corrected. It’s clear the game does the best with what it has but it’s hard to champion the controls over a mouse and keyboard.

So players sacrifice the pinpoint accuracy of a mouse but they do get some new to stuff to make up for it, not least of which is one of the best ways to introduce someone to the greatest simulation series ever. Jumping into SimCity has never been easier. There are incredibly basic tutorials, model cities to start people off on and a cheat mode that makes city design less of a challenge and more of something fun to do. The menus are also a bit simpler to operate, with friendly pictures that are pretty obvious and all the city’s advisors are characters from MySims. Sounds terrible to the hardcore fans out there, I know, but remember the game still offers the same SimCity gameplay you love just with this added layer.

It also offers up some new features that haven’t been in previous iterations. Beyond curved roads, the game now has a few new ideas. The coolest is probably the inclusion of Hero Buildings. Hero Buildings are special buildings that players place in their city that influence the architecture around them. If a player places an Asian looking Hero Building in their city, the architecture of the buildings around that building will slowly change to the same style. Players can have two Hero Buildings on a map, meaning their city can look completely different from one end to another. While the inclusion of Hero Buildings is cool, it’s also relatively pointless. Aside from the look of your city they do little. It would have been cool if sections of the city that looked different performed differently or if one side of town started disliking another because of its look, but maybe these things can show up in the sequel. Besides, if the Sims franchise has taught us anything it’s that people like to mess around with how things look.

Speaking of looks, the graphics for the game are on par with what one would expect from SimCity. Players can zoom in to a pretty solid detail and things look great. In fact, looking around at all the building types is way more fun than it should be, and as more get built, players can collect them in a sort of Smash Brothers like trophy section of the game that you can access in the main menu.

Another interesting added feature that does actually lend some depth to the game is the flying mode in which the player can climb into a variety of flying vehicles and cruise around their city. The planes control by tilting the Wii Remote left and right and are a fun little distraction from the main game. They also offer up a few missions in which the player will have to save a child or transport a dying person to a hospital. Mostly though it’s just kind of fun to be able to fly around the thriving city.

The game doesn’t stop at just city construction though. In order to collect new Hero Buildings players must complete a series of challenges in the challenge mode. Challenges range from destroying an entire city to making sure traffic decreases in a certain area and vary in difficulty level from absurdly easy to aggravatingly difficult. They’re fun to play but also easily avoided if all a player wants to do is design a city. There are also 30 online challenges. Yes, online features! While the challenges won’t ever be getting an update they will have constantly changing leaderboards and information, so the online challenges shouldn’t get too old if the game stays popular. Obviously, I was playing before anyone else had the game so I’m not sure how well it all works but I don’t see it being that big a hassle.

Like I said in the beginning, it’s kind of hard to tell people what to think about the game. It’s SimCity so you probably already know what you think about it, the real decision comes with whether or not the new features and easier gameplay attracts you. Don’t be scared away by the obvious “casual gaming” influences though. SimCity Creator is just as deep and complex as any SimCity before it, it’s just friendlier now.

So that concludes this revie…what? I forgot something? I talked about almost everything though. What could I forg…oh yes. Let’s destroy some cities. I’m pretty sure destroying cities in SimCity Creator is the best it has ever been. Not only do you get the regular city destructions like earth, wind, fire and Godzilla but a new random option which spits up a completely absurd, usually motion controlled way to destroy the city. Sometimes a bunch of hands will appear and as you wave your Wii Remote up and down they’ll trample the ground below them. My personal favorite though is the giant ball from space which the player can roll around, destroying the city like Katamari but without the insanely catchy music. So there, best city destroying ever. Guess that settles whether buying the game is worth it or not.

+

  • It’s SimCity
  • Best city destruction ever
  • Great for newcomers and old timers alike

  • Controls are as tight as they should be
  • Not as easy to manage as on a computer
  • Not a very robust online
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